Two-Out Hitting Leads Arkansas To Win Over Memphis
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A seven-run fifth inning with the help of three Memphis errors gave the 12th-ranked Arkansas Baseball team the opening it needed to run away with a 10-3 victory Wednesday night in Baum-Walker Stadium.
Arkansas (5-1) was actually trailing Memphis (2-5), 2-1, going into the fifth inning, but was able to put seven-consecutive batters on base, three by walks and four by singles to help put up a crooked number.
Freshman Trey Harris, making his first collegiate start, got the rally going with a two-out walk, followed by a pinch-hit walk by Casey Opitz. Then, Jack Kenley drove in two with a base hit up the middle, followed by a walk by Jacob Nesbit. Christian Franklin and Heston Kjerstad each drove in two more runs of their own to finish off the seven-run frame.
It’s the second-most runs scored in an inning by Arkansas year and the fourth time its has plated four or more runs in one frame.
With the win, Arkansas extends its winning streak over Memphis to six games dating back to 2015. Over the six-game stretch, the Razorbacks have beaten the Tigers by a combined score of 55-24, scoring 10 or more runs in three of those games.
Graduate transfer Trevor Ezell led all Razorback hitters, going 3-for-5 at the plate with one RBI and one run scored. It’s his third multi-hit game of the year and second of three hits or more. Kenley also came away with his third multi-RBI game of the year as his rally-starting single in the fifth kickstarted the Hogs’ offense.
On the mound, freshman Patrick Wicklander made his first collegiate start and worked three innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Wicklander gave up a two-run home run in the second inning, but settled down to allow only one baserunner for the remainder of his outing.
Giving The Freshmen Some Work
After Wicklander exited the game and sophomore Zebulon Vermillion pitched two scoreless innings, head coach Dave Van Horn called on the freshmen pitchers to finish off the game. Over the next four innings, Van Horn called on Caden Monke, Jacob Burton, Evan Taylor and Liam Henry with each throwing one inning. Only two hits were allowed over that four-inning stretch and a pinch-hit home run in the ninth was the only blemish. Monke and Taylor both struck out the side in their outings, making them the second and third freshman Razorback pitchers to do that in their collegiate debut this year.
Over the last four games, Arkansas’ hitting has been lethal with two outs. Going back to the series-opener against USC, Razorback hitters are batting .308 (16-for-52) and have driven in 20 of their last 28 runs with two away. Kenley and Franklin lead the team with five two-out RBIs over that same stretch. For the season, Arkansas is batting .313 with two outs.
For the second time in three games, Arkansas used its speed to its advantage stealing five bases with four different players. Trevor Ezell stole two bases in a game for the second time this year and now has a team-leading six swipes. Casey Martin and Christian Franklin each stole their fourth, while Nesbit stole his first of the season.
“I thought we did a really did a nice job of battling a lot of at-bats and really got their pitch counts up. We put together a lot of long at-bats, a lot of full counts, a lot of foul balls. We ended up walking I think nine times, struck out six. Took advantage of a couple of errors and got a few big hits.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on the win over Memphis
“It was a little frustrating in the first inning tonight. We didn’t come through with the big hit. We had a run in with one out and we end up loading the bases. We have an infield fly and I don’t remember the third out. One out, runner on third, you’ve got to get a runner in. That was really frustrating. Because I feel like we had their lefty on the ropes. He might not have made it out of the inning if we had got a hit and broke that thing open. We’ve done a pretty good job this year to find a way to make contact and drive in runs with two outs.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Arkansas’ two-out hitting
“I think it bothered them. They were real concerned about us running. They threw the lefties at us so you’re gambling a little bit every now and then with the balk-type moves that are usually out there. It’s just harder to run on them. We did a pretty good job of picking and choosing. We took advantage of some guys that weren’t real quick to the plate. We kept getting runners in scoring position and I think the speed definitely bothered them and probably led to an error or two.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on his team’s uptick in steal attempts and good baserunning
Arkansas will be back at Baum-Walker Stadium on Friday to start a three-game series with Stony Brook at 3 p.m. Saturday’s game two will follow also at 3 p.m., while Sunday’s finale will be at 1 p.m. All games will be broadcast on SEC Network+.
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