Hogs take care of mid-week foe in a doubleheader.
FAYETTEVILLE — Recording a career-high 10 strikeouts in just four innings before the four relievers after he whiffed two each totaling a school-record tying 18 Arkansas sophomore left-hander Kacey Murphy of Rogers completed the Razorbacks’ doubleheader sweep over the Grand Canyon University Antelopes Wednesday evening at Baum Stadium. Coach Dave Van Horn’s Razorbacks, 24-6 going into this weekend’s 3-game SEC West series against the LSU Tigers starting Friday night at Baum, won Murphy’s game, 6-1 after winning 11-2, Wednesday afternoon’s first game which actually began Tuesday night but was suspended during the second inning until Wednesday because lightning and heavy rain. Wednesday’s double dip defeat dropped GCU of Phoenix, Ariz., and the Western Athletic Conference to 12-16. Arkansas lefty reliever Weston Rogers of Springdale Har-Ber, taking over in the third inning as Tuesday night starter Barrett Loseke wasn’t returned to Wednesday’s mound, was credited with the win in Wednesday’s first game with relievers Jake Reindl and Angus Denton finishing the final three innings without yielding a run. “I thought our pitchers did a tremendous job all day,” Van Horn said. “The second game I didn’t realize we (Murphy, Evan Lee, Josh Alberius, Matt Cronin and Brenden Heiss) had struck out 18 batters until the game was over. I thought it was like 15 or 16 max so that’s pretty impressive. Obviously, Murphy got us off to a good start. He struck out 10 and got out of a couple of jams when it was tight.” With Arkansas leading 2-0 on two Tuesday night first-inning bases-loaded walks, Wednesday’s first game resumed with Arkansas batting with the bases loaded and one out in the second. The Razorbacks tallied on Luke Bonfield’s sacrifice fly for a second-inning run and via home runs by Jared Gates leading off and Eric Cole’s 2-run home run after Carson Shaddy was hit by a pitch powered a 3-run third setting the tone for both games. Gates and Shaddy, drawing Tuesday night’s first-inning bases-loaded walks, each had two RBIs in the opening victory over the Antelopes and pounded Grand Canyon again in Wednesday’s nightcap. Shaddy homered leading off the second inning of the second game, and Gates whacked a 2-run double in the fifth. “Gates hit the ball hard today,” Van Horn said. “It was good to see him hit that home run and that double in the second game jumped the lead up from 3-0 to 5-0. That was probably the biggest hit of the game.” Starting Wednesday’s second game, senior backup catcher Alex Gosser of North Little Rock went 2 for 3 with two RBI on a double and sacrifice fly. In Wednesday’s first game, Bonfield and Razorbacks teammates Jax Biggers and Cole each knocked in two runs while freshman designated hitter Evan Lee of Bryant went 3 for 5 with two singles and a double. Also a pitcher, lefty Lee pitched the fifth and sixth innings of Wednesday’s nightcap and struck out two though he was struck for GCU’s lone home, a 1-out home run over center by Garrison Schwartz in the sixth. Each working an inning, Razorbacks Josh Alberius, tuning up for his Sunday start against LSU, Matt Cronin and Brenden Heiss each struck out two completing Murphy’s start to tying the Razorbacks strikeouts record set in 2009 against Missouri State. “It’s something we can look back on as a high achievement,” Murphy said. “Something cool to talk about.” But Murphy, Shaddy, Gates and Bryant’s Blaine Knight, the Friday night starter against LSU, now are all about this SEC weekend against the Tigers. “I was raised to hate LSU,” Shaddy, a Fayetteville High grad whose father, Chris Shaddy, lettered from 1980-82 with the Razorbacks and was the ’82 shortstop when Van Horn was Arkansas’ second baseman. “It’s a big deal for my me and my family. You’ll see a lot of passion this weekend.”