Longball Leads To Series Win Over Tennessee
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For the second straight night, the sixth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks scored 10 or more runs and notched 10 or more hits as they dominated the 18th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, 15-3, Saturday night in Baum-Walker Stadium, not only winning the series, but earning its sixth conference victory in a row.
Arkansas (33-11, 14-6 SEC) utilized a four-run third inning and four-run fourth inning to help knock out Tennessee (31-13, 9-11 SEC) starter Garrett Stallings after 3.2 innings, his shortest outing of the season. With an 8-0 lead, freshman starter Patrick Wicklander was able to work into the sixth inning before allowing his first run, but Tennessee’s offense stayed relatively quiet the entire night.
Six different Razorbacks recorded multi-hit games with freshman Christian Franklin having the best night, going a career-high 4-for-4 with three runs scored and one RBI. Trevor Ezell and Heston Kjerstad both went 3-for-5 with seven combined RBIs. It was Ezell’s second-straight three-hit performance, while Kjerstad drove in five of Arkansas’ 15 runs off two homers. It was his fourth career multi-home run game and second of the year.
Casey Martin and Kjerstad combined for 10 RBIs in the game, seven from home runs. Martin hit a three-run homer in the third inning, his ninth of the year, while Kjerstad’s came in the sixth and seventh innings. He now has 12 home runs, which ties for second in the SEC and the five RBIs for him and Kjerstad were both season-highs.
Wicklander earned his fourth win of the year after allowing just two runs on four hits in a career-long 5.2 innings. His seven strikeouts were just one off his career best and fifth-straight outing with four or more.
The Hogs have notched 10 or more hits in six consecutive games and eight of its last nine. On the flip side, Tennessee had allowed just 23 runs combined in its last 11 games before giving up 26 to the Razorbacks in this weekend’s series.
Next Man Up
Junior Jordan McFarland came through when his name was called again Saturday night. With usual starting designated hitter Matt Goodheart out with a sore shoulder, McFarland got the start and delivered a 2-for-3 performance at the plate with a solo home run in the third inning that got everything started. It was McFarland’s second home run and second in as many appearances as he had one on Tuesday against Northwestern State. McFarland is 9-for-18 in his last five games with six RBIs and two home runs.
Ezell Surpasses 300 Hits In Career
Redshirt senior Trevor Ezell reached the 300 career hit plateau in his first at-bat Saturday night on a lead-off single to right field. Ezell finished the game with three hits and now sits at 302 for his career. Ezell totaled 251 hits over four years at Southeast Missouri State prior to joining Arkansas for the 2019 season. He now sits at 51 hits this year, third most on the team.
Got The Long Ball Working
Over the last nine games, Arkansas’ offense has hit a blistering .391 and slugged .672 with 19 home runs. Four of those home runs came in Saturday’s victory as Kjerstad not only went deep twice, but McFarland and Casey Martin did as well. It’s the fourth game this year that the Razorbacks have hit four or more home runs in a game and ups their season total to 56, which is good for a tie for second in the SEC.
“The offense is clicking right now. With baseball, that’s just kind of the way it works. Sometimes you struggle and you fight it, and when it’s going good you’ve got to get as many wins as you can and score runs when you can. Our offense has just been seeing the ball well. We’ve had a lot of timely hits. We’ve just done a great job. It all started a couple weeks ago and we’ve hit the ball pretty well. Even in our loss this past Wednesday, we still hit the ball hard and scored seven runs and probably hit another six or seven balls on the nose right at people. But that’s kind of the way the game works.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on his offense clicking over the past two weeks
“Just a really, really good start by Patrick Wicklander. A true freshman, and I think for the second week in a row in conference play, he’s gone out and given us an opportunity to kind of get our feet underneath us and see what we had to do to score some runs against the opposition. He just pitched great. He had a good fastball and a really good breaking ball, mixed in some changeups. He kept them off balance a little bit.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Patrick Wicklande
“It was real good. He’s struggled a little bit and he made an adjustment with his hand placement on the bat a couple of days ago. I think it’s flattened his swing out a little bit and if it didn’t, it sure gave him some confidence. He let the ball get deep four times and hit four balls hard the other way. It was really good to see.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Christian Franklin’s four-hit performance
“Yeah, most Friday-Saturday guys are going to be really good to put it lightly. I think once we kind of broke it open there he started trying to get the ball up more and we definitely took advantage of that. I think we had several hits in a row that inning and then the next inning we put it on him again. So, the hitting tonight was kind of infectious. I thought we did really good getting him out of there and then continuing it after the bullpen came in.” – Jordan McFarland on the offense taking it to Tennessee’s starting pitcher
“It’s always fun when you go against a pitching staff like them. One of the better ones in the nation from what everyone has bene saying. When you match up against a pitching staff like that we all love the challenge and the competition and I think that brings the best out of all of us hitters.” – Heston Kjerstad on the offense performing well against a good Tennessee staff
Arkansas will go for its second-straight SEC sweep on Sunday as it hosts the Volunteers one more time at Baum-Walker Stadium with first pitch slated for 4 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on the SEC Network.
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