No. 4 Razorbacks club 5 HRs in rout of Tigers
Arkansas center fielder Dominic Fletcher hits a home run during the third inning of a game against LSU on Thursday, May 9, 2019, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas' heavy hitters teed off on LSU with a home-run barrage in the early innings, and ace right-hander Isaiah Campbell overcame a shaky start to power a Razorback rout in an SEC West series opener on Thursday.
The No. 4 Razorbacks hit a season-high tying five home runs, including Jack Kenley's fourth inning grand slam, as Arkansas smoked the Tigers 14-4 before a festive announced crowd of 7,283 at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Arkansas (38-12, 18-7) improved its lead to 2 1/2 games in the SEC West over Ole Miss and Mississippi State, who start a three-game series tonight in Oxford, Miss., and four games over the Tigers (30-20, 14-11).
The Razorbacks' 10-run winning margin -- fueled by a six-run fourth inning -- was its biggest against LSU under 17th year Coach Dave Van Horn and its second-largest ever against the Tigers.
"I just think we put up a couple of pretty good innings there," Van Horn said. "Either way, whether we're on the good side of that score or not, that's not a normal game for us and LSU."
LSU has dropped its last four games and has allowed 45 runs in the last three losses.
"We had some good at-bats early," LSU Coach Paul Mainieri said. "You felt pretty good about the way you're competing. The game just got away from us there in the fourth inning."
The Razorbacks piled up 15 hits against four LSU pitchers, including home runs by Casey Martin, Casey Opitz, Dominic Fletcher, Trevor Ezell and Kenley -- all in the first four innings. Arkansas, which won its seventh SEC home game in a row, had its second five-home run game of the year.
Martin led the Hogs with a 4-for-5 performance and scored three runs, while Fletcher went 3 for 4 with 3 RBI.
Josh Smith and Daniel Cabrera had two hits each for LSU. Smith led off the first inning with a flare single and scored on a double by Antoine Duplantis.
LSU took one-run leads in both the first and second innings against Campbell (9-1), but LSU right-hander Ma'Khail Hilliard (0-3) could not hold off the Hogs' onslaught.
Martin hit his 12th home run on a 2-2 pitch over the left field wall to pull Arkansas even at 1-1 in the bottom of the first.
"I was just sitting on the curve ball, waiting on it," Martin said. "We just had to see the curve ball up."
Mainieri said he thought Hilliard was throwing well except for the home run balls.
"He left a couple of curve balls up and the ball really carries in this ballpark, especially right down the lines," Mainieri said. "It was a shame because I thought he was pitching well. He just hung a couple and they didn't miss them."
The Tigers regained the lead on Cabrera's lead-off home run in the second inning, his first of two solo shots in the game to give him a team-high 11.
Jacob Nesbit hit a two-out single in the second, then Optiz launched a two-run shot, helped by a stiff breeze blowing out to right field, on the first pitch he saw to put the Hogs ahead for good at 3-2. It was Optiz's second home run of the season.
"I think the fact that the ball was flying so well played a big part," Kenley said. "Just seeing so many balls fly out early like that, you could tell it was going to be a really offensive game. I think Isaiah did a fantastic job. Had he not, we would have seen a lot of runs going up on the board."
Fletcher's two-run homer, his 10th, was the centerpiece of a three-run third as Arkansas batted around against Hilliard, who threw 41 pitches in the inning.
Arkansas batted around again and blew the game open with a six-run fourth against Riggs Threadgill.
Ezell led off the inning with a home run estimated at 420 feet over the left field wall. Martin singled, Fletcher walked and Heston Kjerstad was hit by a pitch to set up Kenley's shot inside the right field foul pole for the Razorbacks' fifth grand slam of the year and an 11-2 lead. Kenley 10th home run gave Arkansas its fourth player in double figures.
Campbell found his groove after throwing 56 pitches through three innings. The big right-hander got through the fourth on 10 pitches and the fifth on seven pitches. He came out with a 13-2 lead after throwing 95 pitches and allowing four hits and a walk through six innings.
Kole Ramage pitched the seventh and eighth innings and Jacob Burton closed out the ninth for Arkansas.
Sports on 05/10/2019
ARKANSAS vs. LSU
WHEN 6:30 p.m.
WHERE Baum-Walker Stadium, Fayetteville
RECORDS LSU 30-20, 14-11; Arkansas 38-12, 18-7
STARTING PITCHERS LSU RHP Eric Walker (4-4, 5.30 ERA); Arkansas LHP Patrick Wicklander (5-1, 3.91)
RADIO Razorback Sports Network. Not all games will be carried by all affiliates. Check local listings.
Heston Kjerstad’s hit by pitch in the fourth inning was his team-high 11th of the season. … The game’s first review came on a safe-out call at first base on what had been called a double-play ground out by Arkansas’ Matt Goodheart in the fourth inning. First-base umpire Michael Phillips’ out call was overturned on the review. … The Razorbacks have six players — pitchers Isaiah Campbell and Matt Cronin, infielders Trevor Ezell and Casey Martin, and outfielders Dominic Fletcher and Heston Kjerstad — on the ballot for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association All-America team.
THE WEEK AHEAD
TODAY LSU*, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
SATURDAY LSU*, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
THURSDAY at Texas A&M*, 6:30 p.m.
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