Why Arkansas Won: The Razorbacks (1-0) got a big performance at the plate from new first baseman Eric Fisher, who went 2-for-4 with a home run and 3 RBIs. The Hogs also took advantage of some sloppy pitching from Western Illinois (0-1), which walked 11 Arkansas batters. It was more than enough for starting pitcher Ryne Stanek (4 innings pitched, 1 run, 2 hits, 4 strikeouts) and the Arkansas bullpen.
Player of the Game: Fisher slid into the four-hole in Arkansas’ lineup because of second baseman Dominic Ficociello’s strained oblique and produced in the junior’s absence. Fisher — who redshirted in 2012 — drove in Arkansas’ first two runs with a single in the first inning. He also hit the team’s first home run with a solo shot to right field to open a five-run third inning that pushed the lead to 7-0.
State of the Game: Relief pitching was regarded as a team strength in 2012 and the Razorbacks started strong once again Friday. Pitchers Trey Killian and Ty Wright combined to allow one hit over five innings in relief of Stanek. Killian, who Van Horn hopes to mold into a starting role this season, was especially strong in retiring all nine batters faced in his Arkansas debut.
Injury Update: Junior Dominic Ficociello was a surprise scratch from the Arkansas lineup because of a strained oblique. The second baseman suffered the injury swinging the bat during a preseason practice and reaggravated it fielding a ground ball before Friday’s game, according to Van Horn. Ficociello — who will not play the rest of the weekend — was replaced by Jacob Mahan (2-for-2, RBI).
Up Next: Arkansas and Western Illinois will play the second game of the weekend series today at 12:05 p.m. Arkansas will start right-hander Barrett Astin, while Western Illinois send right-hander Tyler Willman to the mound.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau