Arkansas Blows Past Dayton In Series Opener
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The fifth-ranked Razorback baseball team looked right at home Wednesday afternoon, defeating Dayton, 18-1, with the help of a great start by freshman pitcher Caleb Bolden and a two-homer day from fellow freshman Casey Martin.
It’s the third game this year that Arkansas (6-2) has scored 10 or more runs and the third time it has scored eight or more runs before the third inning.
Martin finished the game 2-for-5 with two home runs and six RBIs while hitting in the nine spot. He had the two-out home run in the bottom of the second inning that opened the floodgates as Arkansas batted around in the second, scoring eight runs, all with two outs. Martin is also the first Razorback to have a multi-home run game this season and first since Chad Spanberger went deep twice against top-seeded Florida in the SEC Tournament semifinals on May 27, 2017.
As for Bolden, the Texarkana, Texas native looked comfortable on the mound in his first collegiate start, going six strong innings without giving up a run or walk, and he also struck out six on 81 pitches. Bolden didn’t pitch last week in San Diego and pitched just three innings in relief in game three of the opening series against Bucknell.
It continues a string of great starting pitching the Razorbacks have gotten in the early part of the season. Bolden’s start on Wednesday marked the sixth time in eight games that an Arkansas starting pitcher went four or more innings and gave up a run or less. Combined, Arkansas starting pitchers have a 1.47 ERA this season with 41 strikeouts and are holding opponents to a .197 batting average.
Moments That Mattered
The big inning was the second when Arkansas brought eight across, all with two outs, forcing Dayton starting pitcher R.J. Wagner out after just 1.2 innings. It was Martin’s three-run home run swing that started it and the Hogs went on to get a Jax Biggers single, an Eric Cole walk, an RBI-single by Heston Kjerstad, a two-RBI double by Jared Gates, an RBI-double by Dominic Fletcher, an RBI-single by Evan Lee, and a single from Grant Koch before Dayton recorded the final out of the inning.
As a team, Arkansas was 11-for-21 (.524) in the game with two outs with seven of those hits coming in the second inning. This season, the Razorbacks are 35-for-101 (.347) at the plate with two outs.
Evan Lee and Dominic Fletcher seemed to break out of their offensive slumps they brought into the game as Lee finished the game with three hits, while Fletcher notched two. Both players came away with two RBIs each as it was Fletcher’s third multi-RBI game this year and first for Lee.
After the Hogs had scored six runs over the fourth and fifth innings to make it 14-0, Arkansas started to go to its bench, but Martin stayed in the game to bat in the seventh with a runner on. He corked a 1-1 pitch down the left field line that just wrapped around the foul pole for a home run, making it 16-0 Razorbacks.
In the seventh inning, freshman pitcher Zebulon Vermillion entered to relieve Bolden and he finished the game, scattering three hits and allowing just one run, while striking out three.
“He (Bolden) came out, threw a lot of strikes and lived at 90, 92 mph with a pretty good slider. When he kept the ball around the knees, he had a lot of success.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Caleb Bolden’s performance
“It was a great inning for us. Anytime you can put together an inning like that, the way it all went down when Hunter Wilson drew a 3-2 walk, we got six hits in a row, and they really weren’t cheap, they were hit pretty good. Some on the line, some in the air. Just a really good inning that gave us a chance to relax a little bit.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on the eight-run second inning
“We wanted to use (Casey) Martin as a second leadoff guy. If Jax Biggers isn’t playing there’s a chance he will lead off. He will be our leadoff guy next year for sure and could be our leadoff guy this year.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Casey Martin batting in the nine spot
“I was seeing the ball pretty well. Hunter (Wilson) did a really good job before me getting the next batter up. Our hitters did a really good job today.” – Casey Martin on his two-home run day
“I was just looking for at bats. I was really fortunate to get two today up the middle and that other hit really got me going. Just kept telling myself, they’re going to come; hits are going to come. You have a great approach, just hit the ball hard and they will start falling for me. – Evan Lee on breaking out of his hitting slump
“It was my first career start and my adrenaline was rolling. We came in here and watched some film on them and I found some weaknesses that I was able to pound.” – Caleb Bolden on his strong pitching performance
“Thought he (Martin) had a really good game. It’s been a real pleasure watching him grow through the fall from when he came in to now. I think he is going to continue to improve and get better just like this offense is. We’ve had some struggles earl,y but as an offense I think you will really see us evolve and get better at our game.” – Evan Lee on Casey Martin’s day at the plate
The Razorbacks will come back on Thursday to finish the two-game series with the Flyers starting at 3 p.m. at Baum Stadium. The game will be televised on SEC Network+ via the Watch ESPN app and WatchESPN.com.
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