FAYETTEVILLE — Freshman Jordan Farris drove in five runs while junior pitcher Ryne Stanek shut down Texas A&M for a 12-2 win Saturday at Baum Stadium.
With the win, the No. 12-ranked Razorbacks snapped a four-game losing streak. Arkansas hasn’t won back-to-back games since first weekend of April against Alabama. The Razorbacks will try to end that streak today at 1 p.m. in the final game of the SEC series.
On Saturday, Farris got the offensive explosion going early in just his 11th career start. He drove in two runs with a single in the bottom of the first. Then he cracked his third career homer for another two RBIs in the third. After drawing a walk in the fifth, Farris singled in another run in the seventh. His only nonproductive at-bat was a groundout in the eighth as he had three of the Razorbacks’ 15 hits, which was a season high in an SEC game.
"I’m seeing the ball very well, working hard and just being aggressive," Farris said. "(I’m) looking for a good pitch and putting a good swing on it."
Farris has come on strong the past few weeks, even as Arkansas (26-15, 10-7 SEC) has stumbled through a stretch of losing seven of the last nine games. For the true freshman from Ventura, Calif., the five-RBI night is just another game.
"We had a couple of tough losses before this, getting this win under our belt feels pretty nice," Farris said. "I have a lot of confidence and I try to keep that up at all times. I’m not going to let my highs get too high or my lows get too low and just stay balanced and keep working."
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said Farris brings the right attitude to the ballpark.
"He brings energy every day, he’s always got a smile on his face," Van Horn said. "He likes to play and I like his mentality. He’s tough and popular amongst his teammates."
While Farris’s performance was a bit unexpected, Stanek’s was not.
Stanek (5-2) entered the game with a 1.64 overall earned run average and he hadn’t given up a run since a loss to Mississippi State on March 30. He entered the A&M game riding a 14 2/3-inning scoreless streak that included wins against Alabama and LSU. He continued to baffle opposing hitters on Saturday.
"Ryne came out and gave us some great innings and the offense kicked it in and scored some runs," Van Horn said. "A&M battled though, they got his pitch count up a bit. I would have liked to have thrown him another inning or two."
The junior from Overland Park, Kan., pitched six complete innings, gave up five hits and two walks but struck out a season-high nine batters. His scoreless inning streak ended at 18, but Stanek’s winning streak stretched to three consecutive SEC games. After the A&M game, his ERA in SEC games dropped to 0.70.
"I threw a lot of pitches and wasted a few too many, they battled and got my pitch count up (to 114)," Stanek said. "My stuff was pretty good, but my command was just solid. But it was good enough."
Pitching with a lead allowed Stanek to be aggressive on the mound.
"I was able to throw a lot of pitches over the plate and try to induce contact," Stanek said. "They took a lot of pitches, so it was harder for me to work a lot of quick innings."
Arkansas didn’t waste any time getting a lead for Stanek.
In the bottom of the first, Alma’s Matt Vinson doubled down the first-base line. Van Buren’s Tyler Spoon followed with a looping hit deep in the infield, but close enough for A&M shortstop Blake Allemand had a play on it. But Allemand wasn’t able to make the diving catch which allowed Vinson to advance to third. Brian Anderson followed with a double off the fence in left-center that scored Vinson. After the second out of the inning, Jordan Farris drove in Spoon and Anderson with a single as Arkansas led 3-0.
In the second, Joe Serrano singled with two outs and stole second. Vinson followed with an RBI single for a 4-0 lead for the Razorbacks.
Farris struck again in the third. After Dominic Ficociello’s one-out single, Farris launched a two-run home run over the left-field bullpen and five rows deep into the bleachers for a 6-0 lead. It was the 10th homer of the season for Farris and his 12th and 13th RBIs in 44 at-bats.
After A&M (22-18, 7-10) got on the board in the top of the fourth, Anderson drew a leadoff walk in the bottom half of the inning. Ficociello then hit a rocket over the 365-foot sign in right center that gave Arkansas an 8-1 lead. It was his second homer of the season.