FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Four Arkansas pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout, while the Razorback offense broke open a close game with seven runs during the seventh and eighth innings as Arkansas defeated Delaware State 10-0 on Sunday afternoon in front of 5,207 fans at Baum Stadium.
“We learned a lot about our team this weekend,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “We did a lot of things well but we also made mistakes that we will learn from and work on this week and try to get better for next weekend.”
The Razorbacks, now 3-0 on the year, posted a season-opening, three-game sweep for the third time in the last four years. Delaware State fell to 0-3 with the loss.
Arkansas continued to set new attendance records for a season-opening series on Sunday. The final game of the series saw a paid attendance of 7,188, with an estimated actual attendance of 5,207. For the weekend, the Razorbacks set a new opening series record in both paid attendance (24,326) and actual attendance (20,443), breaking the previous marks of 16,428 actual and 23,678 paid set against Washington State in 2009.
The Razorback pitchers capped an impressive weekend on the mound with the second shutout of the series. It marked the first time since the 1988 season that Arkansas had posted multiple shutouts in a weekend three-game series. Arkansas blanked Northern Iowa in back-to-back games on March 21 and 22, 1988. For the weekend, Arkansas pitchers allowed just two runs on 13 hits, while striking out 37 Delaware State batters.
“What our pitching did is we threw strikes,” Van Horn said. “It’s early and it doesn’t matter whether we are playing the number one ranked team or a mid-major, it’s the first weekend and usually it can be that you have a little bit of the jitters or are not real relaxed, but overall I thought we did a good job.”
Making his collegiate debut, Brandon Moore earned the win on the mound, tossing six shutout innings and giving up just two hits, while striking out four. Trent Daniel, Barrett Astin and Randall Fant each threw a scoreless inning to preserve the shutout.
Matt McClain took the loss for the Hornets, allowing three runs on six hits with two strikeouts over 5.0 innings.
Kyle Robinson continued his solid opening weekend at the plate, finishing with a career-high three hits and also driving in a career-best five RBI. Matt Reynolds went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Jarrod McKinney also added two hits and scored twice. Bo Bigham hit Arkansas’ first home run of the season in the eighth inning and Collin Kuhn scored a team-high three runs.
The Delaware State offense was limited to just three hits for the second straight game as Cameron Cecil, Ryan Haas and Aaron Nardone each had a hit for the Hornets.
For the second consecutive game, Arkansas struck early, plating a run in the bottom of the first. Kuhn reached on an infield single to start the inning and then stole second with one out. A fly out to the center fielder by Reynolds advanced Kuhn to third. Robinson tripled to the wall in center field to score Kuhn and give the Razorbacks a 1-0 lead.
Arkansas tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the third, scoring both runs with two outs. McKinney started the rally with a single to center field and then raced to third on a double down the left field line by Reynolds. Robinson drove in both runners with a bloop single to center to make the score 3-0.
The Razorbacks put the game away with three runs in the seventh. Ficociello singled to left field to lead off the inning and moved to second after Kuhn drew a walk. McKinney loaded the bases with a single to right field. Reynolds drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to right field. Robinson nearly cleared the bases with a liner ticketed for the right-center field alley, but Delaware State center fielder Troy Drummond made a fantastic diving catch for the out as Kuhn came into score on the sacrifice fly. McKinney scored the final run of the inning on a wild pitch to put Arkansas in front 6-0.
The Razorbacks closed the scoring with four runs in the eighth. Bo Bigham led off the inning with Arkansas’ first home run of the season, a line-drive shot over the bullpen and into the left-field seats. With one out, Kuhn drew his second walk of the game and came into score on a double to the left-center field alley by Jacob Morris. Reynolds traded places with Morris with a double down the left field line, scoring Morris for Arkansas’ ninth run of the game. Robinson drove in his fifth run of the game with a single to right field to score Reynolds.