FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The fourth-ranked Arkansas baseball team scored six times in the bottom of the first and cruised to an 11-5 win over Villanova on Friday afternoon in front of 6,317 fans at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks got the bats going early, scoring nine runs in the first four innings of the game. The 11 runs put up by Arkansas were the most runs on opening day since the 2005 season when the Razorbacks scored 13 times against Dallas Baptist.
Arkansas improved to 42-11 in season openers since the 1960 season and has now won 18 straight regular season openers.
Nine different Razorbacks recorded a hit in the win, including three players that had multi-hit performances. Matt Reynolds led the way, going 3-for-3 with a RBI and two runs scored. Jacob Morris added two hits, including Arkansas' first home run of the season, a no-doubt blast over the left field wall. Morris added three RBI and scored twice. Tim Carver went 2-for-3 with a RBI and a run scored.
Preseason All-American DJ Baxendale got the season started on a strong note, throwing five shutout innings to earn the win. Baxendale struck out three and allowed just four hits in his outing.
Nolan Sanburn pitched a perfect ninth inning to close the game, striking out one.
Villanova starter Kyle Helisek took the loss after giving up nine runs, five earned, on nine hits and striking out two in 3.1 innings.
Marlon Calbi, Matt Fleishman and Connor Jones each had two hits to lead the Wildcat offense. Fleishman drove in four runs, all coming on a seventh inning grand slam.
Arkansas jumped on Helisek from the outset, scoring six times in the opening inning. Bo Bigham doubled to lead off the bottom of the first and moved to third on a single to center field by Reynolds. After a ground out by Dominic Ficociello moved Reynolds to second base, Sam Bates laced a double into right field to score both runners and put the Razorbacks in front 2-0. A passed ball advanced Bates to third. Derrick Bleeker then hit a ground ball to second. The second baseman's throw to first was dropped, allowing Bates to cross home plate for the third run of the inning. With two outs and runners on the corners, Morris hit a triple to the left-center field alley, scoring a pair of runs to make the score 5-0. Carver closed the scoring with a RBI single to center field.
The Razorbacks added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Morris led off the inning with a homer into left field to put Arkansas in front 7-0. Carver then singled to center and moved to second on a stolen base. After a strike out by Bigham, Carver then stole third. A double to left field by Reynolds brought home Carver. A pair of wild pitches scored Reynolds to make the score 9-0.
Villanova got on the scoreboard with a run in the top of the sixth. Fleishman led off the inning with a double to right center and then moved to third on a ground out by Connor Jones. A ground out by Kevin Wager allowed Fleishman to cross home plate for the Wildcats' first run of the game.
Arkansas stretched the lead to 11-1 with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Brian Anderson was hit by a pitch to start the inning and then moved to second on an infield single by Jacob Mahan. A four-pitch walk to Ficociello loaded the bases with nobody out. Jimmy Bosco brought home the first run of the inning on a fielder's choice ground out to second base. Michael Gunn then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Mahan.
Villanova closed the scoring with four runs in the top of the seventh. With the bases loaded and two out, Fleishman cleared the bases with a grand slam over the left field wall to cut the lead to 11-5.
The Wildcats were unable to get any closer as the Razorback bullpen retired seven in a row to end the game.
Arkansas and Villanova continue their three-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. Sophomore righty Ryne Stanek will get the start for the Razorbacks, while sophomore right-handed pitcher Pat Young will start for the Wildcats. Single-game tickets for Saturday's game is $10 for reserved and $8 for general admission. Saturday is Cox magnet schedule day at Baum Stadium. All fans in attendance will receive the 2012 Arkansas baseball magnet schedule.
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