COLLEGE STATION, Texas. – Senior Aaron Murphree connected with the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the ninth inning from Louisiana Tech closer Aaron Lorio for a two-run, walk-off home run to straight-away center field that gave Arkansas a 9-8 win.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth inning Brett Eibner drew a walk from Bulldog reliever Andy Bradshaw. Tech then went to the bullpen for Lorio (0-1), who surrendered his first runs and hit of the season.
“I thought it had a chance off the bat,” Muphree said. “But I knew it needed a little help from the wind too. I’m glad it got out of the ballpark because we really needed to get this win.”
The win improved Arkansas’ record to 5-0 on the season and dropped Louisiana Tech to 6-1. It was the Razorbacks’ first walk-off home run since Craig Gentry beat Tennessee on April 2, 2006. The Hogs next opponent is host Texas A&M on Saturday at 6:35 p.m. at Olsen Field.
Travis Hill (1-0) earned his first win of the season by recording the third out in the top of the ninth inning. Hill replaced Cliff Springston who pitched 1.2 innings, allowing just one hit with two strikeouts.
The Bulldogs rallied to take the lead in the eighth inning off UA reliever Eibner. Tech scored three runs on four hits to go on top 8-7. The big blows for Tech came from catcher Matt Combs, who delivered a two-RBI single, and pinch-hitter Alex Richard’s RBI single that put the Bulldogs on top. Eibner, who came on to pitch in the seventh inning after starting the game as the Hogs’ center fielder, was charged for three runs on three hits.
The Diamond Hogs’ offense turned in their best game of the season with nine runs on 13 hits. Ben Tschepikow led the way, going 3 for 4 with two runs scored while Murphree, Logan Forsythe and Ryan Cisterna all had two hits apiece.
Louisiana Tech Luke Burnett worked six innings and allowed six runs – five earned – on 10 hits and 107 pitches with two walks and three strikeouts. Jamey Bradshaw worked 2.1 innings out of the bullpen, surrendering two runs on two hits.
Tech scored one run in the top of the first inning to take an early 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs had runners on first and third base with two outs and the runner from first broke for second and got in a run down as the runner at third base scored.
Forsythe quickly gave the Razorbacks the lead back in the bottom half of the first inning at 2-1 with a two-RBI double that one-hopped the right-center field wall. The double scored Chase Leavitt, who led off the game with a walk, and Tschepikow, who lined a single back up the middle.
The Bulldogs got a run on three hits in the top of the second inning as Patrick Thomas tied the game at 2-2 with a two-out RBI single up the middle. Tech then took a 3-2 lead in the top of the third inning when Jones lined a two-out, two-strike RBI single into right-center field.
The Diamond Hogs scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning to put Arkansas back on top at 5-3. A throwing error on Tech’s Burnett plated UA’s first run and Eibner drove in the next two runs on a 0-2 single to center field.
UA starter Dallas Keuchel worked three innings before exiting for right-hander Justin Wells. Keuchel surrendered three runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
The lead went to 6-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning when Cisterna hammered a 3-1 offering from Burnett over the right-field wall for an opposite field solo home run. It was his first home run of the season.
Louisiana Tech made things interesting in the top of the sixth as Chris Kersten drilled a 2-0 offering from Wells off the batter’s eye in center field for a two-run home run that cut the Hogs lead to 6-5.
Eibner moved to the mound in the top of the seventh inning for Wells and worked a 1-2-3 inning. Wells worked three innings, allowing two runs on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.The Razorbacks pushed the lead back to two runs at 7-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning on Murphree’s RBI double down the left-field line.