FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Joe Serrano and Matt Vinson each drove in a pair of runs, while Barrett Astin worked five solid innings on the mound as the No. 1 Arkansas baseball team defeated Western Illinois, 7-2, on Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
The victory clinches the series for the Razorbacks, who improve to 2-0 on the young season. Western Illinois falls to 0-2 with the loss.
Astin (1-0) earned the win on the mound for the Razorbacks, throwing five innings and allowing one run on three hits with three strikeouts. Jalen Beeks made his Razorback debut out of the bullpen and struck out four and allowed just two hits in three shutout frames. Thomas Altimont also made his debut in an Arkansas uniform, pitching the ninth and giving up a run on three hits with a strikeout.
Western Illinois starter Tyler Willman (0-1) took the loss after allowing seven runs, all earned, on seven hits with a pair of strikeouts in 5.1 innings.
Brian Anderson and Vinson each had two hits to lead the Razorbacks at the plate. Vinson drove in two runs, while Anderson scored twice. Serrano also drove in two runs and scored twice, while going 1-for-3 at the plate. Jake Wise and Brett McAfee also contributed an RBI each. Jameson Henning had two hits to lead the Leathernecks offensively. Brent Turner accounted for Western Illinois' only RBI of the game.
After a scoreless first inning, Arkansas took the lead with two runs in the second. Jacob Mahan doubled to the alley in right-center field to begin the inning and Serrano was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. After a fly out to center by Wise, McAfee grounded out to first to advance the runners to second and third with two out. Vinson was able to get a clutch two-out, two-RBI single into right field, plating both runners and giving the Razorbacks a 2-0 lead.
Western Illinois cut the lead in half with a run in the top of the third. Neil DeCook drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a groundout by Joey White. Turner then went to the opposite field and singled to left, scoring DeCook from second base.
Arkansas got the run back in the home half of the fourth. Anderson started the inning with a single to left and then stole second. A fly out by Mahan moved Anderson to third and a ground out to short by Serrano brought Anderson home to make the score 3-1.
The Razorbacks put together their biggest inning of the day in the sixth, scoring four times. Eric Fisher started things with a leadoff walk and then advanced to second when Anderson singled on a line drive that hit off the pitcher's leg. A sacrifice bunt by Mahan advanced runners to second and third. Serrano then singled into left, scoring Fisher. Anderson was also able to score and Serrano reached second after the WIU left fielder committed an error by bobbling the ball. A double down the left field line by Wise plated Serrano to make the score 6-1. After Wise stole third, McAfee drove in Wise with a RBI ground out to third.
Western Illinois was able to get a run back in the top of the ninth. Jake Moore led off the inning with a double down the right field line and Mark Garton singled to right to put runners on the corners with no out. Tanner Glore grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to score Moore and make the score 7-2. The Leathernecks were unable to get any closer as Altimont struck out White looking to end the contest.
Arkansas and Western Illinois conclude the season-opening three-game series Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Redshirt senior southpaw Trent Daniel (2-0, 5.06) will start for the Razorbacks, while the Leathernecks will counter with sophomore righty Mason Pingel (0-0, 5.00).
Chad Crunk: Arkansas Media Relations