FAYETTEVILLE In a game Arkansas struggled to manufacture runs, quality defense and solo home runs allowed the No. 4 Razorbacks to defeat Binghamton 4-0 on Friday at Baum Stadium.
Pitching in place of usual Friday starter DJ Baxendale, who started last Sunday, Ryne Stanek won his sixth straight start by throwing seven shutout innings, striking out six batters and allowing only two hits.
“(Stanek) had an outstanding breaking ball and had some velocity on his fastball. He didn’t locate it like he wanted too, but I thought he had good stuff and if he located that fastball a little better he would have had great stuff,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. ”I thought he was impressive. He threw a lot of strikes and had a plus breaking ball going today.”
Stanek had his biggest struggle in the seventh inning when the defense bailed him out of a jam. The Bearcats had two runners in scoring position with only one out when Binghamton second baseman Jordon Smucker flied out to Arkansas center fielder Jacob Morris, who threw out the runner tagging from third.
“The ball was hit on a line a little bit, he came up and had a little bit of a running start, caught the ball, did a great job of transferring the ball from his glove to his hand and made a perfect throw to the plate,” Van Horn said. “It was right on the money and the inning was over. We pretty much shut them down right there.”
After hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning to give the Razorbacks a 2-0 lead, Derrick Bleeker hit his second home run of the game with one-out home run in the seventh inning.
Morris followed with a home run of his own in the next at-bat, giving Arkansas (12-2) a 4-0 lead.
“I’ve been struggling at the plate lately and I came in (after the double-play) and one of the coaches said ‘Hey, big-play out there, now let’s get a big hit,’” Morris said. “He hung a curveball and I hit it pretty well.”
All four of the Razorbacks’ runs were home runs hit by the outfielders. Right fielder Sam Bates hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the second inning.
With the outfielders struggling at the plate, Van Horn said he tried Bleeker in the eighth spot in the batting order to try and spark the bottom of the lineup.
“I was going to play (Bleeker) no matter what. (Matt) Vinson’s back has been bothering him, but I had (Bleeker) in the lineup,” Van Horn said. “I wanted to give him some at-bats and see what he could do. He has made some adjustments at the plate and he’s been swinging the bat well. We needed some production from our outfielders and today, we got it.”
Arkansas left-handed pitcher Cade Lynch closed out the game by pitching the final two inning, allowing one hit and striking out three batters.
Binghamton starter Mike Augilera pitched six innings for the Bearcats (0-4), allowing two runs on four hits. Both of Arkansas’ runs in the seventh inning came off reliever Chris Nagorski.
The two teams will meet again Saturday in a doubleheader, beginning at 1:05 p.m. Baxendale will start the first game for the Razorbacks, while Randall Fant will start the finale.