Razorbacks cruise past Leathernecks

By: Matt Jones
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin (right) embraces outfielder Heston Kjerstad after Martin hit a home run during a game against Western Illinois on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin (right) embraces outfielder Heston Kjerstad after Martin hit a home run during a game against Western Illinois on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, in Fayetteville.

Arkansas 8, Western Illinois 0 - Final

Matt Cronin worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth inning. He struck out two on a night when his fastball wasn't hitting the same velocity as he is accustomed.

Arkansas has shut out its past two opponents. The last time that happened was last season when the Razorbacks had two shutouts over South Carolina during a doubleheader.

Arkansas 8, Western Illinois 0 - End 8th Inning

Curtis Washington Jr. singled with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jack Kenley. Casey Martin walked and Heston Kjerstad singled in the inning, but they were stranded on the corners when Dominic Fletcher flied out.

Kjerstad has four hits tonight, but missed on hitting when the cycle when he didn't try to leg out a double on his hit in the eighth. It was only to shallow right field and it was unlikely he would have made it to second base.

Matt Cronin will pitch for the Razorbacks in the ninth.

Arkansas 7, Western Illinois 0 - Bottom 7th Inning

Casey Martin doubled and Heston Kjerstad followed with a homer into the left-field bullpen. Kjerstad is a double shy of the cycle.

Martin and Kjerstad have really produced well the past few games after both went through a prolonged struggle.

Arkansas 5, Western Illinois 0 - End 6th Inning

EDIT: After review, the umpires have called Jordan McFarland out at the plate for the final out of the inning.

Jacob Nesbit's single scored Casey Opitz, who reached on a hit by pitch and advanced on a stolen base and single. Christian Franklin appeared to have scored Jordan McFarland on a sacrifice fly, but McFarland, who singled to reach base, was ruled out at the plate on review after it was initially called safe on the field.

Arkansas 4, Western Illinois 0 - End 5th Inning

Heston Kjerstad singled with no outs, stole second and advanced to third base on a groundout. He was stranded, though, when Dominic Fletcher popped up to end the inning.

Kole Ramage is replacing Patrick Wicklander on the mound. Wicklander's final line: 5 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts. He is in line for the win.

Jack Kenley also is in the game for Trevor Ezell at second base. Ezell did not play the position real well tonight. It's obvious he isn't fully healed from that shoulder surgery.

Arkansas 4, Western Illinois 0 - Bottom 5th Inning

Casey Martin crushed a 3-2 pitch into the bullpen in left field with one out in the inning. That is Martin's fourth homer of the year and his third in three games (one was an inside-the-park home run).

Arkansas 3, Western Illinois 0 - End 4th Inning

The Razorbacks broke through in the fourth when four of the first five batters reached on a hit by pitch, a single and two walks.

Casey Opitz walked with the bases loaded to score Heston Kjerstad, who was hit to lead off the inning. Jordan McFarland added a sacrifice fly to score Trevor Ezell, who singled.

Two runners were stranded in scoring position when Jacob Nesbit struck out. Patrick Wicklander, who had a quick top of the fourth, will return for the fifth.

Arkansas 1, Western Illinois 0 - End 3rd Inning

I'm really surprised Arkansas hasn't been able to do more against this starting pitcher, who came in with a 9-plus ERA. Heston Kjerstad's triple is one of two hits for the Razorbacks tonight. Jacob Nesbit led off with a single in the third but was erased on a double play groundout by Christian Franklin.

Patrick Wicklander has allowed no hits and one walk, and has struck out six for the Razorbacks. He'll pitch again in the fourth, but at 54 pitches already, it's doubtful he goes too much longer.

Arkansas 1, Western Illinois 0 - End 2nd Inning

Patrick Wicklander still hasn't allowed a hit, but WIU put a runner on with two outs after a fielding error by Trevor Ezell at second base. The runner, Nolan Ard, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Casey Opitz. He was stranded when Wicklander struck out Diego Muñoz to end the inning.

Arkansas 1, Western Illinois 0 - End 1st Inning

Heston Kjerstad tripled with one out and scored on an RBI groundout by Trevor Ezell.

Patrick Wicklander retired all three batters he faced in the top of the inning, including two by strikeout.

Pregame

It was uncertain whether this game would be able to be played tonight, but rain has pushed out of Northwest Arkansas long enough that it should leave a window to play. There is no chance of rain between now and the 11 o'clock hour.

Arkansas will start freshman left hander Patrick Wicklander tonight. Wicklander pitched really well in his most recent start last week against Charlotte, but will be on a little bit lower pitch count tonight so he will be available for this weekend's SEC series against Missouri.

Statistically, this series is a sizable mismatch. The Leathernecks have not pitched or hit well this season. WIU's two starters this week have ERAs of 9.28 and 6.91, and no WIU hitter is batting above .250.

One roster note for Arkansas: Jordan McFarland is getting the start tonight at first base, and Trevor Ezell will start at second base for the first time.

McFarland has not started a game at first this season, but coaches want him in the lineup to try and get him on track offensively. Ezell is a natural second baseman, but hasn't played the position in a game since undergoing shoulder surgery last year.

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