Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year twice.
SEC BASEBALL NO. 10 ARKANSAS 12, NO. 2 MISSISSIPPI STATE 5:
Walk in the park: Martin’s slam, 16 passes power Hogs
Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin (left) and outfielder Dominic Fletcher celebrate after Martin hit a grand slam during a game against Mississippi State on Friday, April 19, 2019, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas baseball team won in a walk Friday night at Baum-Walker Stadium.
The No. 10-ranked Razorbacks drew a season-high 16 walks -- with eight of those base runners scoring -- as they beat No. 2 Mississippi State 12-5 before an announced crowd of 7,213.
"I think it was a combo of everything," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said of the walkathon. "Their pitchers were having a little trouble locating. It's not like the umpire didn't have a pretty big zone.
"I think that we fouled off a lot of pitches. We took a lot of pitches. We were patient, and patience probably won us the game."
Arkansas (29-10, 11-6 SEC) clinched the series after beating Mississippi State (32-8, 10-7) 5-3 on Thursday night.
Cole Gordon, the Bulldogs' fifth of seven pitchers, issued four walks in the seventh inning to Jack Kenley, Jacob Nesbit, Trevor Ezell and Dominic Fletcher. They all scored as part of a five-run inning that pushed Arkansas' lead to 12-5.
"When you get a lot of walks, you tend to get a lot of runs," said Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin, who was 2 for 3 -- including a grand slam -- with 3 walks and 3 runs. "I know the guys in our lineup top to bottom can hit. It doesn't matter who you put in there, but when we get walks that can determine a game.
"We kept driving them in and driving them in, and that just goes to our approach."
All of the Razorbacks' runs in the seventh inning came with two outs after Heston Kjerstad was called out looking on a 1-2 pitch with the bases loaded. Kjerstad argued the call with home plate umpire John Brammer, who then ejected him.
"I haven't talked to Heston about it," Van Horn said. "He's pretty mild-mannered, so I guess he felt pretty strongly about the call."
An SEC spokesman confirmed that Kjerstad is suspended for today's game.
"The problem with the call is that it was really late," Van Horn said. "It was almost ridiculously late.
"If it's all in the same rhythm and the way [Brammer] has been calling it the whole game, not a problem. It is what it is. But the way that was, it was almost like he had to talk himself into making that call. And that's not the way you umpire."
Kenley and Nesbit followed Kjerstad's strikeout with walks to score Ezell and Martin, who reached on a bunt single.
Casey Opitz then hit a single to right field, which Elijah MacNamee let get by him as Fletcher, Kenley and Nesbit scored to make it 12-5.
"It's a little bit about handling the atmosphere and taking a deep breath and throwing good pitches," Mississippi State Coach Chris Lemonis said of the walks. "I felt like we overthrew all night long, trying to do more than we normally do."
The Bulldogs came into the game allowing an average of 2.85 walks per nine innings to rank ninth nationally.
"It's just one of those nights," Lemonis said. "It's like we had a virus."
Justin Foscue hit a two-out, three-run home run against Kole Ramage to pull Mississippi State within 7-5 in the fifth inning.
The Bulldogs had the tying runs on second and third base with two outs in the sixth inning, but Kevin Kopps got Jordan Westbrook on a groundout to keep the score 7-5.
Kopps (3-3) pitched three scoreless innings to earn the victory.
"Kopps kind of did it for us," Van Horn said. "He brought some normalcy to the ballgame in a way. He slowed it down."
Kopps started the fifth inning by hitting a batter and allowing a walk.
"You're thinking, 'Oh baby, here we go again,' " Van Horn said. "Then he got under control."
Martin's first career grand slam gave the Razorbacks a 5-0 lead in the second inning. Arkansas loaded the bases when Nesbit reached first on a throwing error, Christian Franklin singled and Ezell walked. Martin then hit the first pitch from Peyton Plumlee over the center-field wall.
"I was actually looking off-speed," Martin said. "It just so happened to be a fastball over the middle of the plate."
Mississippi State pulled within 5-2 in the third inning with two runs against Arkansas starter Patrick Wicklander. Jake Magnum had an RBI single, and Gunner Halter drew a bases-loaded walk.
The Razorbacks added runs in the third on Opitz's RBI single and in the fourth on Matt Goodheart's RBI triple to go ahead 7-2.
Wicklander went 4 innings allowing 2 runs, 3 hits and 3 walks with 6 strikeouts.
"Just a really good job coming out and winning the series," Van Horn said. "Now our big challenge is to have somebody step it up in the bullpen [today]."
Van Horn said that with Cody Scroggins not on the team roster this weekend because of elbow soreness, freshman right-hander Connor Noland likely will start today for the Razorbacks.
Van Horn said Scroggins probably will miss next weekend's series against Tennessee, too.
"We're resting him," Van Horn said. "We've had [the elbow] looked at and he's fine. He just needs 10, maybe 14 days' rest."
NO. 2 MISSISSIPPI STATE AT NO. 10 ARKANSAS
WHEN 2 p.m.
WHERE Baum-Walker Stadium, Fayetteville
RECORDS Arkansas 29-10, 11-6 SEC; Mississippi State 32-8, 10-7
STARTING PITCHERS Mississippi State: RHP JT Ginn (7-1, 3.35 ERA); Arkansas: Connor Nolan (1-2, 5.60 ERA).
RADIO Razorback Sports Network
INTERNET SEC Network-Plus
SHORT HOPS Arkansas pitcher Cody Scroggins isn’t on the roster this weekend because he’s resting a sore elbow. Coach Dave Van Horn said he expects Scroggins to be out 10 to 14 days. … The home team has won 11 consecutive games in the Arkansas-Mississippi State series. … Arkansas clinched its sixth consecutive home series against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs last won a series at Arkansas in 2007 when they took 2 of 3 games. … Razorbacks DH Matt Goodheart and right fielder Heston Kjerstad both extended their hitting streaks to 12 games. Goodheart had a triple in the fourth inning and Kjerstad had a single in the sixth. … Mississippi State center field Jake Mangum’s single in the third inning extended his hitting streak to 20 games.
THE WEEK AHEAD
TODAY vs. Mississippi State*, 2 p.m.
TUESDAY vs. NW (La.) State, 6:30 p.m.
WEDNESDAY vs. NW (La.) State, 3 p.m.
FRIDAY vs. Tennessee*, 6:30 p.m.
Sports on 04/20/2019
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