Arkansas Slams Way Past Texas
AUSTIN, Texas – The eighth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks came out swinging Tuesday night, scoring six runs in the second inning and four runs in the third inning en route to an 11-4 victory over ninth-ranked Texas at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, their seventh win in a row and 13th win in their last 14 games.
Five of Arkansas’ (18-2, 3-0 SEC) first 10 runs came off the home run ball and it all started with a grand slam by freshman Christian Franklin in the second. Franklin finished the game 2-for-4 with a season-high four RBIs and the grand slam was the Razorbacks’ first of the year.
Two batters later, sophomore Heston Kjerstad launched his third home run of the year to straight-away centerfield, a solo shot that traveled 435 feet to finish off the six-run frame. It was Kjerstad’s only hit of the game, but his third hit in his last nine at-bats as it silenced the Texas crowd at Disch-Falk Field.
Along with Franklin’s two hits, Dominic Fletcher and Matt Goodheart both turned in two hits in the game. For Goodheart, it’s his third two-hit game in his last four starts. Since game one against Missouri last Friday, Goodheart is 6-for-13 (.462) with two doubles. Also, both of Fletcher’s hits were doubles, marking a career-high for doubles in a single game.
With a six-run cushion after just one inning of work, starting pitcher Patrick Wicklander was able to go easily into the fourth inning with only one hit allowed and a couple of walks. The Longhorns finally saw their offense come alive in the bottom half of the fourth inning, scoring four off of Wicklander, two from a home run by catcher Caston Peter, cutting into what was once an 11-0 lead to 11-4.
Nonetheless, the freshman hurler was able to keep the damage minimal and give way to the bullpen in the fifth as Kole Ramage and Zebulon Vermillion combined for just one hit allowed and one walk in the final five innings. Wicklander finished with four earned runs allowed and three strikeouts on 77 pitches in his fourth start of the year.
Ramage earned his fifth win of the season, taking over the team lead, and second in as many outings, as he stymied Longhorn hitters in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Ramage retired all nine batters he faced and struck out three on 29 pitches.
Vermillion closed the game’s final two innings, allowing just one hit, one walk and striking out three of his own, one shy of a career-high.
The win for Arkansas over Texas (15-8, 2-1 Big 12) is its fifth-straight over the Longhorns dating back to 2012 and first win in Austin since 2005 in the NCAA Austin Regional. During that five-game win streak, Arkansas has outscored Texas, 49-17, including three games with 10 or more runs scored.
“We got off to a really good start offensively. We took some good swings in the first. We felt like we were going to get to him. In the second inning, I just thought our hitters did a tremendous job of battling. We had a lot of 3-2 counts, took some walks, fouled off pitches and squared some balls up pretty good. Wicklander was really good for the first couple of innings and then he just lost his command a little bit in the third and the fourth. We would have liked to have gotten another inning or two from him, but he was getting behind in the counts and wasn’t able to land some pitches, but his stuff was good, his velocity was good, and he got us off to a good start, which is what we wanted.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on the the win over Texas and the performance from Patrick Wicklander
“That ball was crushed. It was interesting because we were talking about the batter’s eye during the rules at home plate. They said you had to hit it over the batter’s eye and what a shot it takes to get it over it. It was just to the right of it. I think the ball hit in that tree or something. It was a no doubter. It wasn’t really wind-aided. It was going to go no matter what, but he got all that one. He’s been a little frustrated on the power numbers. He’s been getting his hits, batting average has climbed a little bit, but at the same time he hasn’t hit the ball out of the ball park like he can. That was a big swing for us.” – Dave Van Horn on Heston Kjerstad’s monster home run in the second inning
“Coming out of the bullpen, I knew I kind of had every pitch going. I felt really good in the bullpen. I just came out and attacked these hitters. They were getting a little aggressive because they were coming off that inning where (Patrick) Wick(lander) kind of got a couple hits off of him, so I just had to come in. Tried to start them off with a little bit off speed just to kind of get them on their toes and just keep attacking to get them out.” – Kole Ramage on his perfect three-inning outing
“There’s nothing like it, hitting a home run, especially a grand slam. I hit one in high school, but to hit one – especially against Texas – it means a lot.” – Christian Franklin on how it felt to hit a grand slam
Arkansas will finish the series against Texas on Wednesday at Disch-Falk Field with first pitch, once again, slated for 6:30 p.m. on the Longhorn Network.
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