Outfielder Dominic Fletcher nearly completes the cycle in the nonconference win.
FAYETTEVILLE — Ever so briefly Tuesday night before 3,155 at Baum Stadium, the Memphis Tigers celebrated a 3-0 first-inning lead over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Andy Bowman’s 3-run home run. Then Dominic Fletcher made the celebration all about him. The Arkansas junior center fielder, 3 for 5 with four RBI including a leadoff double in the Razorbacks’ 3-run second, a bases-loaded 3 RBI triple in a 4-run third and a RBI single in Arkansas’ 4-run fifth preceded a 5-run Razorbacks sixth that would complete the scoring in a 16-7 Arkansas rout. The victory ups Coach Dave Van Horn’s nationally 14th (USA Today Coaches poll) Razorbacks to 30-8 overall going into tonight’s 6:30nonconference rematch with Memphis at the Arkansas Travelers’ Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock. The Razorbacks, leading the SEC West at 11-4, visit SEC West rival Auburn for a 3-game series Friday through Sunday at Auburn, Ala. Memphis of the American Athletic Conference falls to 21-16. After his double, triple and single, Fletcher had flyouts to right in his last two at-bats, the last he said, trying to go for the home run that would have made him the Razorback to hit for the cycle since Kyle Harris for Norm DeBriyn’s 1994 Razorbacks. “Yeah that last at bat I thought I could take a couple of free swings and get some backspin on the ball and see if I can hit one out,” Fletcher said.” That would have been pretty cool.” Fletcher was free to swing for the fences because his three hits had already fenced in the Tigers, Van Horn said. “His bases-clearing triple he hit down the right field line, that was a huge swing,” Van Horn said. “He had a tremendous at bat. He almost hit for the cycle. His last two at-bats he got himself out on two high pitches but he did a tremendous job helping get us the lead.” Other Hogs belting out a big batting night included Chad Spanberger, 2 for 4 and 4 RBI, Jake Arledge, 2 for 5 with 2 RBI, and Luke Bonfield, 1 for 4 and 2 RBI. Though outhit 15-8, the Tigers did Tuesday’s only home runs. After Bowman’s blast over center off Arkansas starter Barrett Loseke, Tigers center fielder Tyler Webb homered leading off Memphis’ 4-run fifth against reliever Jake Reindl. After giving up a double by Zach Schritenthal scoring three runs charged to Reindl, left-hander Matt Cronin extricated Arkansas from the fifth inning jam. Cronin was officially judged the winning pitcher upping his record to 2-0 while striking out two and was unscored upon for his 1 1-3 innings. Arkansas freshman lefty Evan Lee of Bryant pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth and sidearming freshman right-hander Angus Denton pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. “Cronin gave up the hit to the lefty which was disappointing but other than that he pitched pretty good,” Van Horn said. “I thought Evan Lee was really good tonight and had a good breaking ball to go with his fastball. And it was really nice to see Angus Denton in the ninth fill the zone up and get ground balls. That’s what you need to do when you are a sidearmer. He probably earned himself another opportunity tomorrow and we might even take him on the road with us.” Loseke, in what Van Horn had called an “audition” to be the eventual third SEC starter behind Bryant’s Blaine Knight and Trevor Stephan, didn’t pitch himself out of the running but didn’t pitch his hat in the center ring, either charged with three hits, three walks and three runs despite three strikeouts in three innings. “Just OK,” Van Horn said of Loseke. “He had trouble getting ahead of hitters. It was a command thing always working from behind. He had a pretty good second inning but ran into trouble again in the fourth. Reindl got out of that jam but obviously didn’t have a good inning in the fifth.”