Razorbacks baseball report:

Shaddy: No issues with fifth

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Arkansas second baseman Carson Shaddy follows through with a solo home run Saturday, April 14, 2018, during the second inning against South Carolina at Baum Stadium.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas second baseman Carson Shaddy follows through with a solo home run Saturday, April 14, 2018, during the second inning against South Carolina at Baum Stadium.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Carson Shaddy earned a higher spot in the batting order, so Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Dave Van Horn had him go from 9 to 5 in the lineup on Saturday.

The move paid immediate dividends, as the senior second baseman hit home runs in both ends of a doubleheader sweep of South Carolina by scores of 2-0 and 3-0.

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"I mean, it's all the same to me, to be honest with you, but ... it's cool," Shaddy said.

"It's nice to have some guys that are interchangeable or don't panic when we move them around in the batting order," Van Horn said. "I just felt like obviously we had to make a move. Our 9-hole hitter seemed to be wearing it out pretty much."

Shaddy ranks fourth in the SEC in both batting average (.368) and slugging percentage (.698), and tied for eighth in home runs (9). He pulled both of his home runs against the Gamecocks, and nearly hit a third when his towering hit down the left field line over the foul pole drifted left in the sixth inning of the first game.

Hitting coach Nate Thompson said Shaddy's hitting approach, particularly laying off low pitches, have paid dividends.

"His power really plays to right center, but when he continues to have that good direction and approach, he can also turn on a baseball, like you saw on Saturday, and drive it out of the yard as well," Thompson said.

Shaddy was hit by a pitch on the top of his left hand in the sixth inning of the opener by Adam Hill and later scored on a wild pitch after a brief delay to check on his injury.

"It's pretty sore right now," Shaddy said. "It's swollen, not bruised, but I'll be fine. ... Played through worse."

Shaddy said he told himself he had to stay in the game or he might not have a chance to play in the second game when his two-run homer in the sixth put Arkansas ahead 3-0.

Shaddy hit ninth in 20 games, eighth in 4 games, seventh in 2 games and sixth in 3 games before getting the call to bat fifth Saturday.

Bolden up

Freshman Caleb Bolden is scheduled to make his fourth start in today's 6:30 p.m. game against Missouri State at Baum Stadium in the finale of the Hogs' 10-game homestand.

The 6-2, 188-pound freshman from Texarkana, Texas, has a 1.00 ERA in his three starts, best on the team among starting pitchers, allowing 18 hits and 2 walks and striking out 17 in his 18 innings as a starter.

"The game plan is just going to be to attack the strike zone and throw whatever's working for me that day," Bolden said.

Asked how his pitch selection had evolved, Bolden said, "I have command of my fastball and slider and the change-up is on its way. I just feel like whatever I have that day I'm just going to throw that for a strike."

Coach Dave Van Horn said he'd like to get three or four innings from Bolden.

"It's been really good for us the last couple of weeks, being able to throw Bolden out there on Tuesday and just say, 'Hey, give us some innings,'" Van Horn said.

18 is enough

Two Arkansas pitchers retired 18 consecutive batters in games last week, one to open a game and one to close it.

Junior right-hander Jake Reindl did it first, setting down the final 18 Auburn hitters in the Razorbacks' 5-4 victory over Auburn on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep. Reindl had career highs of nine strikeouts and seven innings against the Tigers.

Junior left-hander Kacey Murphy retired the first 18 South Carolina batters in Saturday's 2-0 victory, including six by strikeout. He left with a one-hitter after allowing a leadoff single to Justin Row in the seventh after throwing 70 pitches.

Shift on

South Carolina played with a significant shift against several of the Razorbacks hitters on the infield and its outfielders swung around to account for pull hitters like lefties Heston Kjerstad and Dominic Fletcher.

"You know, I haven't seen it this year like that," Arkansas hitting coach Nate Thompson said. "Apparently they feel like they have the analytics or whatever to back that up, and honestly, we hit into it a few times. ... But as much as you hit into it, sometimes you hit out of it."

Dave Van Horn said the shift worked twice on balls up the middle and that the Razorbacks beat the shift once or twice.

"They're going with what they see on paper and some of the charts that are out there nationally," Van Horn said.

Hit, pitch, field

The Razorbacks are No. 2 in the SEC in batting average (.308), tied for No. 3 in pitching (3.09 ERA) and No. 12 in fielding (.973). They are tied with Kentucky atop the SEC with 58 home runs and rank No. 2 behind the Wildcats with 277 runs scored.

Missouri State ranks No. 7 in the Missouri Valley Conference in batting average (.253), No. 1 in pitching (3.88) and No. 4 in fielding (.973).

Poll position

Arkansas remained at No. 3 in the USA Today Coaches poll on Monday, marking the second consecutive week for the Razorbacks at that spot.

Missouri State, which had been No. 25 in the USA Today poll last week, fell out after going 0-3, with a mid-week 8-6 loss to Missouri and weekend setbacks by scores of 17-6 and 10-2 against No. 7 Oregon State.

Around the horn

• Freshman 3B Casey Martin will take a team-high 16 game streak of reaching base into tonight's game. Luke Bonfield has the team's season high of reaching base in 20 consecutive games.

• RF Eric Cole leads the team with 14 multi-hit games, including two 4-hit games and five 3-hit games.

• Shortstop Jax Biggers went 0 for 9 against South Carolina and stranded 10 runners.

• The Razorbacks have 58 home runs, tied for second in the nation with Kentucky, and behind Tennessee Tech, which has 82.

Sports on 04/17/2018

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