Wicklander, Bullpen Silence Georgia in Rainy Series Opener
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Rain or shine, the Hogs continue to come out on top.
No. 1 Arkansas rolled to a series-opening victory against Georgia (27-17, 10-12 SEC), shutting out the Bulldogs on Friday night at Baum-Walker Stadium. A matchup that started an hour and a half late due to inclement weather ended with the Razorbacks claiming a 3-0 win in the pitchers’ duel.
Arkansas, now 35-8 overall on the year, has won four of its last five games and is 16-6 in SEC play. The Razorbacks, the top-ranked team in the country for the 10th consecutive week, continue to lead second-place Mississippi State by one game.
Arkansas’ arms and Robert Moore’s bat were the difference Friday night. Moore collected two RBI and scored a run to account for all three of the Razorbacks’ tallies on the night, and a full Hog effort on the mound resulted in 13 Bulldog strikeouts and an Arkansas shutout.
A pair of back-to-back doubles by Moore and Casey Opitz in the second gave Arkansas an early edge. After Moore’s one-out two-bagger, Opitz drove him home with a double of his own to put the Hogs ahead, 1-0.
Moore added a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth with a two-out, two-RBI double to extend the lead to 3-0 heading into the game’s final frame.
Patrick Wicklander and Kevin Kopps, meanwhile, led the charge on the mound with 12 combined strikeouts over eight innings of scoreless work. Caden Monke entered the game in the seventh to record a strikeout of the lone batter he faced.
Wicklander scattered six hits across 5.2 innings but used a career-best nine strikeouts to escape the outing without allowing a run. He breezed through five innings of scoreless ball before a Bulldog rally in the sixth threatened to knot things up.
Monke, however, came up clutch out of the bullpen with an inning-ending strikeout to keep Georgia off the board. It was all Kevin Kopps after that.
One of the premier relievers in the country was once again masterful on the mound, keeping Georgia at bay for the final three innings. The Bulldogs put a couple runners on in the seventh, but Kopps earned a key strikeout to put out the fire and keep the lead at 1-0.
The Sugar Land, Texas, native notched three strikeouts in his three scoreless frames to secure his seventh save of the season and seal the win for the Razorbacks. Six of Kopps’ seven saves this season are of the multi-inning variety.
The Hogs and Dawgs will go at it again 6 p.m. Saturday at Baum-Walker Stadium. The game will broadcast nationally on the SEC Network with Mike Couzens (play-by-play) and Todd Walker (analyst) on the call.