FAYETTEVILLE — First baseman Chad Spanberger hit a two-run home run in the in the bottom of the fifth inning that proved to be the difference in the Arkansas Razorbacks’ 2-0 win over the Memphis Tigers Wednesday night at Dickey-Stephens Park.
With the count one-two, starter Alex Hicks tried a backdoor slider on Spanberger, a pitch that had befuddled the first baseman all series.
“He had been throwing me fastball in today and yesterday and getting me,” said Spanberger. “And I think that one lipped over the plate a little bit and I got a pretty good swing on it. I was just trying to elevate at that point.”
Spanberger finished the game going 1-of-4 from the plate along with two RBI and two hits. It is the 12th consecutive game the Granite City, Illinois native has hit safely for the Hogs, and is no doubt a career-long streak for the junior.
The home run, which was Spanberger’s ninth of the year and ties him with Grant Koch for team-high, helped preserve a dominant pitching performance by Rogers Heritage (Arkansas) product Kacey Murphy. The lefty went 7.0 innings pitched and struck out seven batters while walking just one on 90 pitches hurled. The innings pitched were a career-high, and the strikeout total is the third-best in 2017.
Everything was working Wednesday night for Murphy.
Said Murphy: “I had all three pitches, really. I started out with the fastball and try to go away and see if they commit to it and then I busted another breaker. And then when I got my change-up down, I really worked down even more.”
Memphis’ lone hit came off of a bunt by right fielder Chris Carrier in the seventh inning. Other than that, Murphy notched his fourth win of the season to earn a 4-0 mark as closer Josh Alberius entered the game in the eighth inning. The Little Rock Christian alumnus through one strikeout among 15 pitches in 2.0 innings of work.
“This is probably my third year playing in front of this crowd and this year was probably the best one,” said Alberius. “It’s kind of my last one to come back and play in front of the crowd. And there’s no better way to go out.”
Arkansas holding the Tigers to just one hit is the first time since Feb. 19, 2013 when this has last been done for the Hogs. Colin Poche’ and Cade Lynch helped the Razorbacks to this feat against New Orleans.
Arkansas now sits at 31-8 on the year as Memphis falls to 21-17. The Hogs will travel to Auburn, Alabama tomorrow for a weekend match-up with their SEC West challengers in Auburn.