Hogs Walk-Off To Conference-Opening Sweep
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Sophomore catcher Casey Opitz laced a 1-2 curveball through the right side of the infield in the bottom of the ninth Sunday afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium, scoring Curtis Washington, Jr. to lead the 10th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks to a 3-2 win over Missouri, finishing off the three-game sweep.
Arkansas’ (17-2, 3-0 SEC) offense struggled to string hits together throughout the game and Opitz was 0-for-3 coming into his final at-bat. But, after Heston Kjerstad led off the frame with a single and Washington pinch-ran for him, Dominic Fletcher was able to reach on a catcher’s interference to put a runner in scoring position with one out. Opitz, then, saw four-straight curveballs from Missouri pitcher Cameron Dulle and didn’t miss on the last one, putting it just out of reach of the second baseman.
The Razorbacks mustered just five hits in Sunday’s win, two off the bat of Kjerstad, but the pitching staff proved strong again, scattering just five hits of their own with three walks and 11 strikeouts. It’s the fifth time in their last six games that the staff has racked up 10 or more strikeouts.
Redshirt junior Cody Scroggins had another good outing as a starter with five scoreless innings worked and seven strikeouts. He was in line for his second victory of the season, but a two-run home run by Missouri in the ninth gave him the no-decision. Scroggins has not given up a run in his last 11 innings, walking only three and striking out 18.
With the win, Arkansas notches its third-consecutive SEC-opening sweep and wins its 18th-straight home series dating back to 2017.
Casey Opitz Always Finds A Way
Before his game-winning hit on Sunday, Opitz had only recorded a hit twice in his last 26 plate appearances, but reached base 10 times over that same span via walk or hit by pitch. Opitz currently has a .468 on-base percentage, ranking first on the team among players with 20 or more at-bats and tied for ninth in the conference. He finished the series against Missouri just 1-for-8 (.125), but drew three walks and one hit by pitch.
Jack Kenley Doesn’t Care About Your Perfect Game
By the sixth inning, Missouri starting pitcher Tyler LaPlante had pitched a perfect game, but Arkansas finally broke through with its first hit on a solo home run by junior Jack Kenley, his fourth of the year, tying for the team lead. It was Kenley’s only hit of the series, but his 16th RBI of the year.
Pitching Staff Holds Firm In Sweep Over Missouri
Arkansas’ pitching proved the difference, once again, on Sunday, holding Missouri batters to two runs on five hits and nearly pitching its second shutout in three days. It’s the fifth time in the last six games that Hog pitchers have allowed five or less hits and two or less runs. For the series, the staff racked up 32 strikeouts and walked only seven. Going into its midweek series against Texas, Arkansas pitchers have a 4.13 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“I thought the pitching was outstanding. Honestly, we didn’t swing the bats real well. I think that the players will tell you that if you look at the numbers. We faced some good arms. Obviously, when you win three games, you’re excited about it, but it’s like I told the team, we have to clean up some things. We have to pay attention to details if we’re going advance because the competition is just going to get better and better and it’s tough to win on the road if you don’t do everything correct.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on the weekend overall
“Scroggins was really good. His first two innings, he hits a batter to start the game, but really the first three innings his stuff was electric. He was throwing the ball in the mid-90s with a plus-plus changeup and a really good slider and racked up a lot of strikeouts. His pitch count got up because of that. A lot times when you are striking people out, it’s taking four, five, six pitches or more. He kind of got up there in his number, but he really did a good job of getting out of, I don’t know what inning it was maybe the third or fourth when they got the bases loaded with one out. He kind of saved the game for us right there.” – Dave Van Horn on Cody Scroggins’ outing
“I enjoy starting lately. It was a great outing. I didn’t really have control of my fastball in the beginning, so I started relying on my off-speed a little bit and it’s a good thing I had control of that. I knew it was going to be kind of a grind because I couldn’t find my command quick enough, but I started feeling that around the fourth inning.” – Cody Scroggins on his continued success in the rotation
“Unbelievable. The most we gave up was three runs a game. It was unbelievable what they were doing out there. Every single guy, I had so much confidence in and our defense played unbelievable behind them. It was a lot of fun being back there with this kind of staff.” – Casey Opitz on the pitching staff as a whole
Arkansas goes on the road for Spring Break this week starting with a two-game midweek series at Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both games with the Longhorns will be at 6:30 p.m. and broadcast on The Longhorn Network.
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