Wicklander and Franklin Lead Razorbacks to Fifth-Straight Win
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The 10th-ranked Razorback Baseball team earned its fifth-straight win Wednesday night at Baum-Walker Stadium, defeating Charlotte, 9-2, on the backs of a strong start on the mound by Patrick Wicklander and a near-cycle from Christian Franklin.
Wicklander, making his second start of the year, not only had the longest outing of his young career (5.0 innings) but also notched a career-high eight strikeouts over 76 pitches and only walked three. Wicklander’s last three outings have made him a strong asset either out of the bullpen or in a starting role for the Hogs. Over his last nine innings of work, he’s struck out 15, walked six and only allowed two runs.
On offense, Franklin turned in his third multi-hit game of the year, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored. He had a single in the third inning, an RBI double in the fifth inning and followed that up with a two-RBI triple in the sixth inning, his first three-bagger of the season.
Arkansas (10-1) remains undefeated at home (8-0) with the win. It was nearly the Hogs’ first shutout of the season as they took a 9-0 lead into the ninth inning. Unfortunately, Charlotte (6-6) plated two runs in the final frame for the final tally, but it still marked the fifth time this year that Arkansas has won by seven or more runs.
Playing Long Ball
For the second-straight game and third time this year, Arkansas hit two or more home runs as Trevor Ezell and Dominic Fletcher both added to their totals Wednesday afternoon. Ezell hit his third of the year off the scoreboard in the sixth inning, which now ties him with Jack Kenley for the team lead. Then, Fletcher launched his second of the year in the seventh inning to pad Arkansas’ lead to 9-0. Arkansas now has four players with two or more home runs and 12 home runs as a team through 11 games.
The Razorbacks played a little small ball and got a little luck in acquiring their first run in Wednesday’s game. After Fletcher and Opitz led off the second inning with walks, freshman Trey Harris put down a perfect sacrifice bunt down the first-base line to move the runners up 90 feet. That was followed by a Kenley sacrifice fly to bring home Fletcher. Arkansas has totaled seven sacrifice hits this year and eight sacrifice flies.
Near-Cycle For Franklin
Freshman outfielder Christian Franklin almost joined a very exclusive club in Arkansas history, falling just a home run short of the cycle. Franklin had a single, a double and a triple in his first three at-bats on Wednesday and upped his batting average to .400 for the season, good for second on the team. Kyle Harris has the only known cycle in Arkansas history, performing the feat in 1994 against Tennessee.
“I felt like Patrick Wicklander had really good stuff. He just didn’t command some of it. He walked the first batter the first three innings and they didn’t score a run. Very unusual. He had seven or eight strikeouts and those were the only three walks he had in five innings. He’s a guy who could pitch for us every Tuesday or Wednesday and if he keeps pitching well, maybe we flip him to the weekend to keep some of our older guys in the bullpen.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Patrick Wicklander’s performance
“I thought we played a good ball game. That’s a solid team and we just got some big hits. To me the play of the early part of the game was just a great play by Casey Martin on a ground ball that looked like it was headed into center field. Instead of runners at first and third and nobody out we turned a double play. Two outs and nobody on. That was a big momentum swing. That was a big-time defensive play.” – Dave Van Horn on Arkansas’ win over Charlotte
“Oh, that double play was huge in the game. We could have ended up with runners at first and third with one out or runners at second and third and no outs. There could have been different situations that could have changed the game. But as soon as I could see the ball in Marty’s (Casey Martin’s) glove I thought, ‘Ok, we at least got one, possibly two here.” – Patrick Wicklander on a run-saving double play in the third inning
Arkansas continues its homestand this weekend with a three-game series against Louisiana Tech starting on Friday at 6 p.m. at Baum-Walker Stadium. Games two and three are slated for 1 p.m. starts and all games will be televised on SEC Network+.
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