FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas drew a school-record 19 walks and scored a season-high in runs to beat Alabama A&M 20-2 Tuesday at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks initially took the lead in the fourth inning when freshman Isaac Hellbusch put the Razorbacks ahead with a two-run home run. He came through later in the inning with a two-run single to total four RBIs in the fourth. Tyler Spoon had an RBI walk and Brian Anderson added a two-run single in Arkansas’ seven-run inning.
“It was good to get going,” Hellbusch said. “I chased a couple of pitches I shouldn’t have swung at, but all throughout the lineup, we did really well. We got people on, moved them over and scored them.”
Arkansas (12-5) totaled six bases-loaded walks in the game, including five in a nine-run seventh inning. Hellbusch got his fifth RBI with one of the bases-loaded walks in the seventh.
“I thought we did a good job of taking a walk,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “Seriously though, they did a good job of making the other team throwing strikes and they didn’t do a very good job of it. We had a chance to build up the lead and got a couple of big hits to put the game away.
“A lot of times when you’re scoring runs and the game is pretty much in hand, you’re going to go out of the zone a little bit more. And we did go out of the zone a little bit and fouled some off, but we did a pretty good of being patient for the situation.”
Spoon’s 16-game hit streak came to an end, but he drove in three runs. He drove in runs on a bases-loaded walk and another on a fielder’s choice in which the shortstop made an error, to go along with his sacrifice fly.
Colin Poche started the game on the mound for the Razorbacks, but did not last long. The freshman had not allowed a run entering the game, but allowed his first of the season in the second inning when he walked in a run, leading to his replacement. He walked three, struck out three and allowed one run and three hits in 1 2/3 innings of work.
Brandon Moore took over in the second with the bases loaded and led Arkansas out of the jam. Moore pitched two hitless innings, striking out four batters, but Thomas Altimont retired the final batter in the top of the fourth and earned his first win of the season. Altimont (1-0) tossed 2 1/3 innings, allowing one run on one hit and striking out two batters.
Redshirt freshman Landon Simpson closed out the game for the Razorbacks and earned the save by tossing three hitless and scoreless innings and striking out five batters.
“It was good to see a guy like Landon Simpson come in, even though we had the game under control, he came in and did a very good job,” Van Horn said. “To me, he looked like he really wants to pitch and I like that.”
Arkansas fell behind in the second inning, but Jacob Mahan scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Spoon to tie the game in the third inning. Mahan had walked earlier in the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Dominic Ficociello made his Baum Stadium season debut and went 1-for-5 in the game with three RBIs. The switch-hitter has been battling an oblique injury that has prevented him from hitting left-handed and he continued to bat right-handed once Alabama A&M (2-16) replaced its southpaw starter, Sanchez Tucker (1-2), with right-handed Caleb Bowen.
“It was good to be back,” Ficociello said. “I felt pretty good and I was seeing it well. I think I’m just a little bit off, still. I felt comfortable and even on the right-on-right at bats, which is something I haven’t done in a while, it was not as bad as I thought. I had done it before, but it had been a while. I felt pretty good and like I said, I’m happy to be back.”
In addition to Hellbusch’s two-hit, five-RBI performance another pair of true freshmen, Jordan Farris and Willie Schwanke, led the team with three hits each.
“You add up all the hits from the freshman and you had 9 or 10 hits, so that was good to see,” Van Horn said. “It was good that they got to play and they did a good job.”
Arkansas hosts Alabama A&M again at 3:05 p.m. on Wednesday for the final game of the midweek series. Sophomore right-hander Chris Oliver is slated to start the final game against the Bulldogs.