Lowering the boom: Hogs trail early, recover to drop Bears

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Arkansas third baseman Casey Martin runs to home plate after hitting a home run during a game against Missouri State on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas third baseman Casey Martin runs to home plate after hitting a home run during a game against Missouri State on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Freshmen Casey Martin and Heston Kjerstad drove in four runs each and junior Jake Reindl cooled off the hot Missouri State bats to lead the No. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks to a comeback 11-7 victory on a windy Tuesday night.

Martin went 2 for 3 in the leadoff spot and reached base four times, had an RBI double in the fourth, then launched a go-ahead three-run home run in the fifth inning off Missouri State ace reliever Jake Fromson before a crowd of 6,418 at Baum Stadium.

"Well, bottom line, I'm glad we came up with a win," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "It was really a game where we had to find a guy who could stop them and throw the ball over the plate and pitch a little bit."

The Razorbacks (28-10) gained some redemption against the Bears (22-11), who eliminated the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, from its home NCAA regional last June.

"There was mention of it before the game," said Reindl, who notched a four-inning save, his second. "It was kind of like a pride game. I was excited. Not a huge fan of those guys."

Arkansas wrapped up a 10-game home stand with a 9-1 record.

Missouri State held two big leads, 3-0 in the first and 7-3 in the third, before the Razorbacks rallied.

"Regardless of the early score, you knew you were going to have to get them out for nine innings," Missouri State Coach Keith Guttin said. "That's a very good offensive team, and obviously they've got good arms as well."

Kjerstad had three hits, including an RBI single in the first and a solo home run in the Razorbacks' five-run fifth inning.

"I feel like with the lineup we have, there's never a game that we're out of," said Kjerstad, who bumped his batting average to .373 and increased his team-high RBI total to 37.

Reindl walked the first batter he faced then retired 10 consecutive Bears before allowing a flare single with one out in the ninth. He struck out seven and backed up his seven-inning gem against Auburn on April 8 with another strong outing.

"It's good to show everybody that wasn't a fluke," Reindl said. "I came back and feel that now that's who I am and that's who you should expect when I come out there."

Kole Ramage (1-1) picked up the victory by allowing no hits and striking out two during his 1 2/3 innings.

Arkansas trailed 7-4 before erupting in the fifth inning.

After Kjerstad's home run to lead off the fifth against Matt Russell, Carson Shaddy followed with a booming double to the left-center gap. Grant Koch scored his former Fayetteville High teammate with a one-out single, then Jordan McFarland greeted Fromson (2-2) with an opposite-field single.

Fromson retired Jack Kenley on a flyout, then Martin drilled an 0-1 slider into the wind stream blowing hard to left field and over the wall for his eighth home run and his first since March 17.

"I felt pretty comfortable tonight and saw the ball really well and just stuck with my approach," said Martin.

The Razorbacks turned three double plays, including two started by pitchers Barrett Loseke and Reindl.

The teams traded three-run first innings.

Hunter Steinmetz led off the game with a bunt single and scurried to third on Drew Millas' one-out single. Ben Whetstone walked to load the bases before Caleb Bolden struck out Matt Brown. Jack Duffy looped a single to left to make it 2-0, then Landan Ruff's infield single plated Whetstone.

The Razorbacks chased wild Austin Knight before the lanky right-hander could record two outs. Knight hit Martin with a pitch then walked Eric Cole on four pitches. Kjerstand's single to center brought in Martin.

Shaddy and Dominic Fletcher drew full-count walks to make it 3-2, and when Knight hit Koch with a pitch in the shoulder to tie the game, his night was over. Logan Wiley induced a double-play grounder on his second pitch to McFarland to escape further damage.

Missouri State broke out for four runs in the third, with Matt Brown doubling in a run and Ruff bringing in two more with a double. Steinmetz's bases-loaded walk against Evan Lee made it 7-3.

The Razorbacks got a run back in the fourth against Wiley when McFarland reached on an infield single with two outs and came in on Martin's double.

Milas went 4 for 5 with two runs scored for the Bears. Shortstop Jeremy Eierman, who had been a thorn in Arkansas' side at Baum Stadium, had a strong defensive game but went 0 for 5 and grounded into double plays to end the second and third innings.

SHORT HOPS

Arkansas pitcher Jake Reindl allowed no hits and three runners in a nine-inning period over his last two games before allowing a ninth inning single. The runners were two walks and a hit batter. … Arkansas does not have a hit in its last 11 plate appearances with the bases loaded. The Razorbacks have two sacrifice flies, a walk and a hit by pitch in that span. … Missouri State turned a handy double play to get out of the first, with shortstop Jeremy Eierman scooping Jordan McFarland’s grounder up the middle and flipping with his glove to second baseman John Privitera, who caught it bare-handed and fired to first to complete the play.

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