FAYETTEVILLE— Arkansas’ overwhelming environment got the best of Southern Miss in a 10-2 loss on Saturday night. Arkansas’ starting pitcher Kacey Murphy helped the Razorbacks control the game while its offense put together 13 hits.
“Murphy really pitched well,” head coach Scott Berry said. “I thought he mixed his pitches, used both sides of the plate, he was really in control of us. Offensively we hadn’t been held down that way for a long time this year. That’s how good he really pitched. I was proud of how our guys battled there at the end.”
The mayhem started early for Southern Miss as starting pitcher Stevie Powers experienced the worst start of his season. In the first inning, Powers gave up two hits that allowed Arkansas to put runners at the corners but got out of the inning with a strikeout and a groundout.
Powers’ early troubles carried over in the second inning after he gave up two, two-run home runs and an RBI single. Mason Strickland was forced to pitch in relief and gave up a two-run RBI triple. In just two innings, Powers allowed seven runs on five hits, walked three, hit a batter and struck out two.
“Stevie just didn’t command the secondary I think,” Berry said. “Arkansas had that momentum going, of course, the atmosphere with however many thousand people were there really energized their hitters and it really showed.”
“They really hit a lot of fastballs in advantage counts because he wasn’t really able to command that breaking ball and that changeup,” Berry said. “I wish he could have got that changeup a little bit more to just kind of offset that rhythm that they had. They are a good hitting ball club, they have a really fast twitch to their bat. It can catch up to that fastball real quick and I think that’s what we saw tonight.”
Arkansas later extended its lead in the fifth inning on a two-run RBI single and added another run in the ninth inning with an RBI double.
Southern Miss’ hitting fared no better against Murphy, who pitched a perfect game through the first five innings. Daniel Keating spoiled his perfect game with a one-out single in the fifth inning. In the eight innings of work, Murphy allowed just two hits, struck out five and walked one batter.
The bats ignited late in the game, with three of the team’s five hits coming in the ninth inning. Matthew Guidry hit a leadoff home run to avoid the shutout and Matt Wallner later drove in a run on an RBI double.
Fayetteville native Walker Powell will start Sunday for Southern Miss against Dallas Baptist in an elimination game. Powell posts a 3.53 ERA, a 7-2 record, walked 14 batters and has struck out 58.
“I know he is probably excited and anxious to get out there, coming back to his hometown,” Berry said. “I have total confidence in Walker. I hope he doesn’t try to do more than he is capable of doing just because of the atmosphere. If he stays within himself he’ll do well.”
Starting for Dallas Baptist on the mound is right-handed pitcher Luke Eldred, who posts a 3.08 ERA, a 6-3 record and has 36 strikeouts to just two walks.
First pitch against Dallas Baptist is scheduled for 2 p.m.