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.
Scroggins sizzles 2 years after pop; UA beats Louisiana Tech in shutout
Arkansas Razorbacks Cody Scroggins (57) pitches during a baseball game, Sunday, March 10, 2019 at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Two years after University of Arkansas pitcher Cody Scroggins tore a ligament in his right elbow against Louisiana Tech and underwent season-ending surgery, he showed the Bulldogs he's all better now.
Scroggins, a redshirt junior from Bentonville, started Sunday's game at Baum-Walker Stadium and went a career-long six innings with a career-best 11 strikeouts in the No. 10 Razorbacks' 11-0 victory over Louisiana Tech before an announced crowd of 2,747.
"Today it all started with Cody Scroggins," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "He just had a great game. Threw pretty much nothing but strikes. When he got behind, he found a way to come back. He used a lot of sliders, a few changeups, a lot of fastballs.
"He kind of just pounded the bottom of the strike zone."
Scroggins (1-0) had 61 strikes on 88 pitches and held the Bulldogs to 2 hits and 1 walk.
"Man, Scroggins was really good," Louisiana Tech Coach Lane Burroughs said. "Obviously, he was able to land a lot of his pitches.
"I wasn't particularly happy with our approach at the plate today, but give him credit. I thought the ball was coming out of his hand really well. His velocity was good, and his breaking stuff was really good. We don't punch out a lot, but he kind of stuck it to us today. I was impressed with him."
Scroggins, a converted infielder, pitched 152/3 innings last season, but Sunday was the first time he had faced the Bulldogs since feeling a pop in his elbow in the Razorbacks' 13-10 victory at Louisiana Tech on March 1, 2017.
"You're never going to forget that day it happened, that you just took a big step back in your career," Scroggins said. "It's just always going to be in the back of your head. But it really didn't factor that much into me today."
Kevin Kopps, Evan Taylor and Elijah Trest each pitched an inning in relief to complete Arkansas' first shutout this season.
"The pitching staff was outstanding today," Van Horn said after Louisiana Tech beat Arkansas 12-7 on Saturday. "Just a tremendous response by our team after a tough loss yesterday."
The Razorbacks (12-2) got all the offense they needed in the second inning when they scored their first four runs, including a two-out, three-run home run by shortstop Casey Martin on a 3-2 fastball from Louisiana Tech starter Logan Bailey (1-2).
"The lefty tried to slip a fastball by him after throwing a lot of offspeed, and he didn't get it by him," Van Horn said. "I think he got it to a full count. He hit it about as hard as you can hit it and gave us a pretty good lead right there."
Scroggins said the early 4-0 lead made his job a lot easier.
"You just kind of start relaxing and playing catch with the catcher," he said. "So I started spotting up against righties and lefties with the fastball."
Scroggins hit Louisiana Tech leadoff man Hunter Wells to start the game, then retired 18 of the final 21 batters he faced. The Bulldogs never got a runner past first base against him.
"Phenomenal," Martin said of Scroggins' performance. "I don't know the last time I saw him pitch like this. Maybe fall ball."
Scroggins' previous longest stint was 3⅔ innings in a start at Southern California on Feb. 21 in Arkansas' 6-3 victory.
"I want to be a starter, but wherever the team needs me they can put me, to be honest," Scroggins said. "If I need to close a little bit and give [Matt] Cronin a break, I can. Middle relief, start.
"But I've been starting lately, and they've been telling me to get three or four, and today I went a little bit extra because everything was working."
Sunday was Scroggins' third start this season.
"His demeanor on the mound's been good," Van Horn said. "Even when he's had runners on base -- and he didn't have a lot of them today. There weren't a lot of stressful pitches for him today in the big picture.
"His development is continuing to get better, and he seems like he's making a jump. He wants to stick in that rotation, and he deserves it."
Sports on 03/11/2019
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