Razorbacks One-Hit Leathernecks In Shutout
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For the second-straight game, the 10th-ranked Arkansas baseball team pitched a shutout, giving up only one hit to Western Illinois Tuesday night and winning 8-0 at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Freshman left-hander Patrick Wicklander, making his second consecutive midweek start, matched his season-high five innings pitched and eight strikeouts, while giving up just one hit. Over his last 12 innings going back to Feb. 27 against Memphis, Wicklander has struck out 21 and given up only three hits.
Kole Ramage, Jacob Kostyshock, Kevin Kopps and Matt Cronin all followed Wicklander, working one inning each and striking out six while walking only two. Arkansas’ (13-2) pitching staff has been nearly unhittable over the last three weeks, striking out 10 or more in eight of the last nine games. Over that same stretch, the starters have struck out 63 batters and walked only 10.
On the offensive side, the Razorbacks produced at least one run in six different innings and got home runs from Casey Martin and Heston Kjerstad. Kjerstad completed a perfect 4-for-4 game at the plate and fell a double short of the cycle, while Martin finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Kjerstad tripled in his first at-bat, his first triple of his career, and then singled in the fifth before hitting his opposite-field home run in the seventh. He had the opportunity to complete the cycle in the eighth but singled through the right side, which was followed by a Jack Kenley sacrifice fly.
Kjerstad Heating Up
Sophomore outfielder Heston Kjerstad did not have the best start to his second season when he was 8-for-36 (.222) after eight games. Since then, the Amarillo, Texas native is batting an even .500 (15-for-30) with five multi-hit games, four with three hits or more, and slugging .767 with five extra-base hits and six RBIs. For the year, Kjerstad is now batting .348, good for third on the team.
The five-pitcher combination of Wicklander, Ramage, Kostyshock, Kopps and Cronin combined to throw a one-hitter Tuesday night against Western Illinois, the first combined one-hitter by an Arkansas pitching staff since Kacey Murphy and Matt Cronin teamed up for a seven-inning one-hitter against South Carolina on April 14, 2018. That game was shortened due to playing a doubleheader on the final day of the series. The last combined nine-inning one-hitter came in 2017 against Memphis in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Murphy and Josh Alberius combined in a 2-0 victory.
“I thought it was a great job by our pitching staff, obviously. Patrick Wicklander got us off to a good start, we had him on a pitch limit of about 70 to 75, so we can still have him available for Sunday if we need him. He just pounded the zone, had a few counts of 3-2, and I think he walked just one hitter, but for the most part, just threw a lot of strikes. A lot of fastballs and started mixing up a few changeups which were good to see I think in about the third.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on the win over Western Illinois and Patrick Wicklander
“Yeah because that’s what he did last year when he kind of got hot. I think he has two home runs on the year and the first one he hit was maybe the first or second game of the year and he pulled it and crushed it. We haven’t really seen him pull a ball like that before, we just saw it in practice and maybe he’s trying to do too much. Now, he’s just back to his same old self and there was a little timing issue that I think he’s got worked out. He seems to be pretty confident.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on the uptick in production from Heston Kjerstad
Arkansas finishes the series with the Leathernecks on Wednesday with a 3 p.m. first pitch at Baum-Walker Stadium. The game will be broadcast online on SEC Network+.
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