by UATVSports’ Tyler Woessner
The Diamond Hogs are coming off a tough stretch against No. 6 South Carolina and No. 7 LSU. One guy though who’s played well lately despite the stiff competition has a familiar name, but not much time on the field. That’s changed recently and look for it to stay that way.
Redshirt Freshman Blake Baxendale hit a grand slam in the series finale at LSU last weekend, for the high point of the hot streak he’s on right now. He’s had six RBIs in the last in the last two games for the Razorbacks. After starting the season off with some nagging injuries, Baxendale has now proven to head coach Dave Van Horn that he belongs in the everyday lineup.
“He’s a guy if we could just keep him in the middle of the lineup with this team it would definitely help,” Van Horn said. “We gave Blake an opportunity to hit against left-handed pitching and he got the job done. So we decided to give him the opportunity to swing the bat against right or left. He’s been hitting the ball pretty well.”
One area where the Razorbacks have lacked in recent years has been in the power hitting department. Second baseman Brian Anderson says Baxendale can really help in that regard.
“He’s given us a good power bat,” Anderson said. “A guy who’s shown that he can handle the bat at times. He’s been able to drive the ball, whether it’s out of the park or in the gap for a double. It’s a little boost that when he comes to the plate he can juice one out of the park at anytime.”
Blake wears the same number 24 that his brother DJ wore when the elder Baxendale pitched for the Razorbacks from 2010-2012. If DJ was on the mound and Blake at the plate, little brother says he’d be able to get some hits off big brother.
“From the hitting aspect baseball’s really a failure based game,” Blake said. “If you gave me 10 chances against him, I think I’d succeed at least three times.”
Look for the younger Baxendale to be at his usual DH spot in the lineup for Arkansas when the Razorbacks take on No. 12 Vanderbilt this weekend at Baum Stadium.