Chris Murray: Eric Fisher Heating Up at Right Time for Razorbacks


The Arkansas Razorbacks hit the midway point of the Southeastern Conference baseball season at one game under .500 in league play (7-8), but there are strong signs that things may be starting to click in time for a stretch run.

With that said, the Hogs (23-15) lost two of three at LSU last weekend. They avoided the sweep with an offensive explosion on Sunday. Arkansas’ weekend starting pitchers – Trey Killian, Jalen Beeks and Chris Oliver – were steady once again. Even in losing the first two games, the Hogs scrapped, fighting back from four-run deficits to make it close.

The Tigers got to Killian early on Friday, taking a 4-0 lead after three innings. Eric Fisher smacked a solo home run in the fifth for Arkansas’ first run. LSU got that run back in the seventh, but Brian Anderson’s two-run double allowed the tying run to reach the plate for the Hogs. Joe Broussard worked out of trouble for LSU as it took the opener, earning his eighth save.

On Saturday, Arkansas fell behind 4-0 early. The Hogs tied the score at 4-all, chipping away until a double steal and throwing error allowed Clark Eagan to race home with the tying run in the seventh inning. It wasn’t enough, though, as the Tigers got a walkoff single from Mark Laird in the bottom of the ninth.

Freshman catcher/designated hitter Blake Baxendale blasted a grand slam in the first inning on Sunday. That set the tone as the Hogs cruised to a 10-4 win. Oliver earned the win, pitching seven solid innings. Baxendale finished with five RBIs, while Fisher homered for the third straight game. Now that he is healthy, Baxendale is forcing his way into the lineup.

Eric Fisher Heating Up at Right Time for RazorbacksFisher’s pop was the big revelation from the weekend for the Hogs. With a home run in each game of the LSU series, Fisher now has five for the season, with 22 RBIs. The junior first baseman came to the team with expectations of great power. Up until recently, that had not really happened.

Shortstop Michael Bernal had three hits and three RBIs as the Hogs dropped Stephen F. Austin 7-2 on Tax Day at Baum Stadium. Baxendale added another pair of hits, while Colin Poche got the win with three innings of scoreless relief.

Arkansas hosts no. 11 Vanderbilt starting tonight at Baum. The Commodores present the Hogs with another chance to improve their RPI and NCAA resume by taking a series from a quality SEC foe. Tonight’s game is set for 6:35, with Saturday’s at 6:05 and noon on Sunday.

* * *

Arkansas State maintained its lock on second place in the Sun Belt Conference with a series win over South Alabama this past weekend in Mobile. After getting shut out on Friday, the Red Wolves bounced back to win 7-6 in 14 innings on Saturday. Matt Burgess’ sacrifice fly proved to be the game-winner. ASU scored a pair of runs in the eighth to draw even, and the two teams went scoreless until the 14th. Tanner Gaines earned the win with 6.1 innings of two-hit shutout baseball. South Alabama took two of three games from Arkansas at Baum Stadium in a pre-conference series.

The Red Wolves then earned the series win on Sunday, taking the finale 3-2. Zach Maggio doubled home the winning run in the ninth. ASU remains two games ahead of third-place Texas State and Texas-Arlington at 10-5 in league play. UL-Lafayette is streaking at 14-1, 34-4 overall.

UALR was swept by the Ragin’ Cajuns in Lafayette over the weekend. The Trojans continue to struggle at 3-12 in Sun Belt play, but did defeat Louisiana Tech on Tuesday to improve to 14-20 overall. The Trojans host Troy this weekend. Arkansas State, which defeated Memphis on Tuesday, hosts UL-Monroe starting tonight.

UCA fell to 7-8 in Southland Conference play, losing two of three to Nicholls State over the weekend. The Bears (18-15 overall) host McNeese State for three games starting tonight. McNeese is in a three-way tie for first with Northwestern State and Nicholls State. The Bears are three games back, among a logjam that has nine teams within three games of the lead.

With the Razorbacks, Red Wolves, Trojans and Bears all at home, this weekend provides ample opportunities to see quality baseball across the Natural State.


Tags: , , , ,