FAYETTEVILLE – Over three years the Gonzaga Bulldogs, better known as Zags played Arkansas four times and won them all.
The Razorbacks atoned for all that in four days. Arkansas’ 9-5 victory on a chilly, drizzly Sunday that 1,582 of the 7,615 that purchased witnessed completed a 4-game sweep at Baum-Walker Stadium upping Coach Dave Van Horn’s Razorbacks to 7-0.
Arkansas zigged the Zags, 7-5, 9-3 and 5-0 Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Even on a Sunday when 10 of the 11 Razorbacks batting accounted for 14 hits, including solo home runs by Christian Franklin and Casey Martin, and Matt Goodheart going 3 for 5 with three RBI, and freshman phenom Robert Moore, 2 for 2, adding two more RBI totaling nine RBI for the series, middle reliever Marshall Denton most stood out,
From unscored upon yet struggling starter Caleb Bolden, bailed out by inning-ending doubleplays in the second and third, the one in the
third a liner that shortstop Martin snagged and doubled the runner off second, Denton in the fourth inherited a 1-0 lead with runners at first and second on successive singles with nobody out.
Cleanup hitter Ryan Sullivan then Stephen Lund and Gabriel Hughes awaited.
Denton, the fourth-year junior sidewinding right-hander from Beebe struck out the side and logged the win.
“Denton’s outing was outstanding,” Van Horn said. “He came in and went through, 4, 5 and 6 in the order somewhere in there and got three strikeouts. That was big-time for us.”
Just what he expected said Martin, a Lonoke native who played both against Beebe’s Denton and with him on travel ball teams before joining him at Arkansas.
“I’ll tell you there wouldn’t be another guy I would rather put in that situation,” Martin said. “He came in and did his thing.We need more guys like him. He put it to them. He threw a lot of strikes and that’s all we could ask. We need more guys like him.”
Former Razorbacks ace DJ Baxendale of Sylvan Hills, now back as a Razorbacks student coach after pitching professionally, was Denton’s sidearming model he patterned himself after, Denton said.
Denton said he went after the Zags in “attack mode filling up the zone.”
Actually, though, he killed them softly.
“Off-speed pitches,” Denton said. “That’s what we’ve being going with all week and they weren’t hitting it well.”
The Zags sure couldn’t hit Denton, Zags Coach Mark Machtolf opined.
“Their guy came in , the slider guys, the slinger guy,” Machtolf said. “And we didn’t adjust to him at all.”
The Zags did net 11 hits and scored three off reliever Blake Adams and one each off Kole Ramage and Zack Morris before Zebulon Vermillion retired them 1-2-3 in the ninth.
After Denton struck out the side in Gonzaga’s fourth, Franklin homered leading off Arkansas’ 4-run fourth that included RBI singles by Moore and Goodheart and a throwing error.
Martin homered in the fifth. The Hogs scored three in the sixth.
Moore, the 17-year-old second baseman who graduated high school in December to join the Hogs, for the series went 8 for 12 with nine RBI, a home run, a double and four walks while scoring four runs.
“ I feel like I kept the same approach as did last weekend,” Moore said of going 1 for 12 in a 3-game sweep over Eastern Illinois. “I got a few to this week drop which helped.”
The Hogs, nationally No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches poll, hit the road for the Shriner’s Classic at the Houston Astros Minute Maid Park Friday through Sunday against the Oklahoma Sooners, Texas Longhorns and Baylor Bears.
Gonzaga…000 031 100 – 5 11 2
Arkansas…010 413 00x – 9 14 2
Troglic-Iverson, Kempner (4), Spellacy (6), Vrieling (6) and Rando; Bolden, Denton (4), Adams (5), Ramage (5), Morris (7), Vermillion (9) and Tamez, Opitz (6).
HR-Arkansas: Franklin (1). Martin (1).
W-Denton (1-0). L-Troglic-Iverson (0-2).
Gonzaga…000 000 000 – 0 2 3
Arkansas…010 220 00x – 5 9 0
Jacob, Gomez (6), Larson (8) and Lund; Wicklander, Monke (7), Kopps (8), Trest (9) and Opitz.
HR-Arkansas: Moore (1).
W-Wicklander (2-0). L-Jacob (0-1).
Gonzaga…000 012 000 – 3 5 2
Arkansas…000 142 20x – 9 9 2
Lardner, Haas (6), Spellacy (8) and Lund; Noland, Denton (7), Morris (8), Burton (9) and Opitz.
HR-Gonzaga: Hughes (1).HR-Arkansas: Opitz (1).
W-Noland (2-0). L-Lardner (0-1).
Gonzaga…002 120 000 – 5 11 0
Arkansas…023 000 00x – 7 8 0
Knueppel, Naughton (3), Rutherford (7), Vrieling (7) and Lund; Ramage, Kopps (3), Monke (6), Trest (8), Vermillion (9) and Opitz.
HR-Gonzaga: Harris (1).
W-Monke (1-0). L-Rutherford (0-1).
Photos courtesy of Craven Whitlow, CW3 Sports Action