Eric Fisher went 2-for-4 with three RBI, including his first collegiate home run, while Ryne Stanek, Trey Killian and Tyler Wright combined to allow just one run on three hits as No. 1 Arkansas defeated Western Illinois, 9-1, in the 2013 season opener on Friday at Baum Stadium.
With its win, Arkansas improved to 43-11 in season openers since 1960, including 19 straight victories in regular season openers.
Eight of Arkansas' nine starters recorded at least one hit for the Razorbacks with three different players having two hits each. Fisher led the way at the plate, driving in three runs on a pair of hits. Fisher had a two-RBI single in the bottom of the first and followed that up with a solo home run, the first of his collegiate career, in the bottom of the third. Brian Anderson reached base all five times he was at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a RBI and drawing three walks. Jacob Mahan was also a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate, with an RBI and a run scored. Jacob Morris reached base four times, drawing three walks and going 1-for-2 with two runs scored.
Ryne Stanek started and picked up the win in his season debut, throwing four innings and allowing a run on two hits with four strikeouts. Freshman Trey Killian made his collegiate debut in relief of Stanek and retired all nine batters he faced with one strikeout. Tyler Wright closed out the victory with three strikeouts in two innings.
Western Illinois starter Nick Smith was saddled with the loss after giving up seven runs on seven hits with six walks in three innings.
The Leathernecks had three hits in the loss. Dan Dispensa hit his first home run of the season, while Manny Reyes and Matt Risdon also contributed a hit each.
Arkansas jumped out to an early lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first. Matt Vinson and Morris walked to begin the frame and a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Spoon moved each runner into scoring position. Fisher brought home bought runners with a single into right to give the Razorbacks a 2-0 edge.
The Razorbacks broke the game open with a five-run rally in the home half of the third. Fisher took the third pitch of the inning over the right field wall and into the visitor's bullpen to stretch the lead to 3-0. Anderson then walked and stole second, while Willie Schwanke walked to put runners on first and second. A bunt single by Jake Wise loaded the bases for Mahan, who ripped a single up the middle, scoring Anderson. Brett McAfee brought home Arkansas' fifth run of the game with a sacrifice fly to right. An RBI single by Vinson to center field allowed Wise to trot home and make the score 6-0. After a walk to Morris loaded the bases again, Spoon drove in a RBI on a fielder's choice to stretch the lead to 7-0.
The Leathernecks got on the board in the top of the fourth as Dispensa led off the inning with an opposite field home run to left field to cut the lead to 7-1.
Arkansas answered back in the bottom of the fifth with a run. Morris reached on an infield single to lead off the inning and then advanced to single on a single to left field by Spoon. After Fisher flied out to left, Morris stole third to put runners on the corners. Spoon was then picked off of first base for the second out, but Morris was able to score during the run down to make the lead 8-1.
The Razorbacks closed the scoring with a run in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Spoon walked and then came around to score on Anderson's two-out triple to center field to make the score 9-1.
The Razorbacks and Leathernecks continue the three-game series on Saturday with first pitch set for 12:05 p.m. Junior right hander Barrett Astin (3-5, 1.99) will start for Arkansas, while Western Illinois will counter with sophomore righty Tyler Willman (1-1, 7.71). Single-game tickets for Saturday's game are $10 for reserved seats and $8 for general admission and may be purchased on gameday at the Baum Stadium ticket office.