Hogs Get Early Jump, Win Game One Over USC
LOS ANGELES – After jumping out to a 6-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth inning, the No. 12 Arkansas Baseball team was able to stall a small USC comeback and finish off a 6-3 series-opening victory Thursday night at Dedeaux Field.
Arkansas (4-0) jumped on Trojan starter Quentin Longrie for five runs, four being earned, on just four hits before forcing USC to go to the bullpen. The top three of Arkansas’ lineup consisting of Casey Martin, Heston Kjerstad and Trevor Ezell combined to go 5-for-14 (.357) at the plate with Kjerstad and Ezell both coming away with two hits each.
Redshirt junior pitcher Cody Scroggins was a big reason the Hogs were able to get out to such a big lead. Making his first career start, Scroggins stymied USC hitters over a career-high 3.2 innings, allowing just one hit and striking out a career-high eight batters. Scroggins struck out at least two batters in each of the first three innings and currently has the highest single-game strikeout total for any Razorback pitcher so far in the early part of the season.
Even though USC cut the lead in half after Arkansas went to the bullpen, the Razorbacks were able to quiet down the momentum with the trio of Kole Ramage, Zebulon Vermillion and Matt Cronin, limiting the Trojans to only three hits in the final 5.1 innings.
Cronin picked up his first save of the year, throwing the final 1.1 innings and striking out the side in the ninth inning.
The Jackrabbit Comes Up Clutch
In the second inning, Arkansas’ offense was on the verge of going down quietly as Longrie began to settle in for USC. However, with a runner on, Jacob Nesbit and Christian Franklin both walked to turn over the lineup and load the bases. Martin, a Lonoke, Arkansas native, made USC pay with a big double off the left-centerfield fence, just missing a home run by a few feet, but still bringing home three runs. It was Martin’s only hit of the game, but it marked his first multi-RBI game of the year.
Scroggins The Starter?
After last week’s weather forced a throwing schedule change for Arkansas’ usual rotation, Cody Scroggins was penciled in to start game one against USC this week. Even though Dave Van Horn made it clear that Scroggins was going to be utilized as an “opener” for the game, Scroggins went beyond “opener” status and had the look of a bonafide starter. Scroggins struck out the side in the first inning and totaled two more each in the second and third innings. Only two batters reached base before the fourth inning and before Arkansas went to the bullpen. Both Scroggins innings pitched and strikeouts were career highs.
Ramage Calms The Storm
Cody Scroggins couldn’t have done much more in his first career start, but after having to go to the bullpen and Patrick Wicklander not able to find the strike zone, sophomore Kole Ramage was asked to get Arkansas back in the dugout. Ramage was up to the challenge, striking out the first batter he faced on three pitches. Ramage went on to throw 3.1 scoreless innings, earning him his second win of the year, one more than his total from a year ago.
Arkansas had two web gems to show for that ended up being game-saving plays. Freshman Christian Franklin made a diving grab along the left field line that was a low liner and ended the fifth inning. Then, in the eighth inning with a runner on second and one out, third baseman Jacob Nesbit snagged a hard-hit ball along the third base line and was able to get up and throw the runner out at first, preventing the baserunner from advancing up 90 feet.
Junior Matt Cronin finally got the first save of the season Thursday night as he retired the final four batters of the inning, all on strikeouts, to lock in the 6-3 win for the Razorbacks. It was the 11th time in his career he struck out four or more batters in a single appearance.
“I thought he did a great job. He gave us almost four solid innings. He pitched great. He threw his fastball for a strike. He had his changeup going, which he used against the lefties a lot. I’d give him the ball on a Friday night. I liked what I saw.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn the starting performance of Cody Scroggins
“He’s the guy you want up there. He can beat you with his feet and his bat. He can mishit balls and beat them out. He just makes things happen. He’s pretty electric.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Casey Martin hitting the bases-clearing double in the second inning
Arkansas and USC will return to the field on Friday for game two of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 8 p.m. CT at Dedeaux Field and will be broadcast on Pac-12-Plus.
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