Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Aggies shut down Arkansas again to win series
Arkansas pitcher Connor Noland throws during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, April 20, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Texas A&M shut down Arkansas' offense for the second consecutive day Saturday and the No. 19 Aggies defeated the No. 4 Razorbacks 6-1 to win the three-game series at Blue Bell Park.
Three Texas A&M pitchers combined to retire the final 15 Arkansas batters following Casey Martin's leadoff single in the fifth inning. Martin had the Razorbacks' only run, a solo home run in the top of the first inning.
Arkansas (40-15, 20-10 SEC) also squandered a scoring chance in the fourth inning after loading the bases with one out. Jacob Nesbit flied out and Trevor Ezell grounded out to strand all three base runners.
The Razorbacks were 2-for-13 with runners on base and 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position Saturday after going 3-for-15 and 0-for-7 Friday. Arkansas stranded seven runners total.
All 10 of Arkansas' runs in the series came on seven home runs.
The Aggies (36-19-1, 16-13-1) recorded 11 more strikeouts of Arkansas hitters to bring the three-game total to 44. Christian Roa had seven strikeouts in six innings, and relievers Moo Menefee and Kasey Kalich had two apiece.
Texas A&M tied the game 1-1 on Jonathan Ducoff's one-out RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning. The hit chased Arkansas starter Connor Noland, who was rolling until he allowed three of the first four hitters to reach in the fifth.
Noland suffered the loss despite allowing one earned run on five hits. He threw just 45 pitches.
The Aggies added another run on the first of two errors by Martin, and Braden Shewmake had a sacrifice fly to put Texas A&M ahead 3-1 after five innings.
Arkansas committed four errors that led to four unearned runs. Jacob Nesbit had a fielding error in the sixth inning that led to a sacrifice fly by Cam Blake, and Arkansas catcher Casey Opitz had a throwing error in the seventh that allowed Ty Coleman to score from third after advancing on a wild pitch.
The Razorbacks lost a series for the first time since dropping two of three at Vanderbilt on April 12-14.
Arkansas will play Wednesday in the SEC Tournament against either Ole Miss or Missouri.
Texas A&M 6, Arkansas 1 - Final
Texas A&M retired the final 15 Arkansas batters and kept the Razorbacks from clinching the SEC West title. Arkansas can still share the division with a Mississippi State loss to South Carolina today. That game is in the early innings.
Kasey Kalich, the Texas A&M closer, struck out two Razorbacks in the ninth inning. Arkansas struck out 44 times in the series, including 11 times today.
Arkansas hit seven home runs in the series and those homers accounted for their only 10 runs. The Razorbacks were 2-for-13 with runners on base today and 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Arkansas' seed in the SEC Tournament is still to be determined. The Razorbacks could be anywhere from the No. 2 to the No. 4 seed. That will be finalized by the end of the day.
Texas A&M 6, Arkansas 1 - End 8th Inning
Casey Martin committed his second error - his 20th of the season - with two outs in the eighth, but Arkansas reliever Zebulon Vermillion worked around two base runners. The Razorbacks will send the bottom of the lineup to the plate in the top of the ninth inning.
Texas A&M 6, Arkansas 1 - Middle 8th Inning
Moo Menefee continues to deal. He sat down Arkansas in order in the seventh, capping it with a strikeout looking by Heston Kjerstad. The Razorbacks haven't had a base runner since Casey Martin's leadoff single in the fifth inning. Since then: 12 straight outs, including five strikeouts.
Texas A&M 6, Arkansas 1 - End 7th Inning
Since tying the game 1-1 with two outs in the fifth, Texas A&M has scored four unearned runs and one earned run. The Aggies added another one on a throwing error by Casey Opitz with two outs in the seventh.
Two base runners were moving on a ball in the dirt. Opitz opted to try for the tag at second, but threw the ball off-balanced into the outfield. That allowed Ty Coleman to score. Kevin Kopps struck out Hunter Coleman on the next pitch to end the inning.
The Razorbacks have committed an error in each of the past three innings.
Texas A&M 5, Arkansas 1 - Bottom 7th Inning
The Aggies are starting to pull away. Jonathan Ducoff doubled to lead off the seventh, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Ty Coleman's RBI single. Texas A&M has put together good swings the past three innings, first against Connor Noland and then against Cody Scroggins.
Arkansas is going to the bullpen. Kevin Kopps will replace Scroggins.
Texas A&M 4, Arkansas 1 - Middle 7th Inning
The Razorbacks are running out of chances. Jacob Nesbit, Trevor Ezell and Casey Martin went down in order on a lineout, a strikeout and a popup to the third baseman. Ezell's strikeout was the Razorbacks' 41st of the series.
With the way Arkansas is swinging, you have to wonder whether the Razorbacks will be able to bring the top of the lineup back to the plate before the game ends.
Texas A&M 4, Arkansas 1 - End 6th Inning
The difference in the past two games boils down to Texas A&M's ability to score with runners in scoring position and Arkansas' inability to do so. The Aggies have capitalized on their opportunities.
Cam Blake's sacrifice fly scored Zach DeLoach and the Aggies have gone ahead by three runs. DeLoach reached on a leadoff single and advanced to second base on an error by Arkansas third baseman Jacob Nesbit.
The Razorbacks have committed two crucial errors in the past two innings. Otherwise it might 1-1 right now.
Texas A&M is making a pitching change for the seventh. Freshman left hander Moo Menefee is replacing Christian Roa, who worked around a lot of base runners but only gave up the one-out home run to Casey Martin in the first inning.
Menefee pitched 1 2/3 innings last night.
Texas A&M 3, Arkansas 1 - Middle 6th Inning
Aside from Casey Martin, Arkansas' hitters haven't put a lot of good swings on Christian Roa today. Jack Kenley got ahold of one, but hit it to the warning track, then Christian Franklin followed with a popup and Casey Opitz a grounder to first base during a quick sixth inning for Roa. His pitch count is just 86. He'll likely be able to come for another inning.
Texas A&M 3, Arkansas 1 - End 5th Inning
Braden Shewmake hit a sacrifice fly to right field and scored Jonathan Ducoff from third base. Heston Kjerstad's throw was off line, but wasn't likely to get Ducoff anyway.
Cody Scroggins struck out Bryce Blaum to end the inning and strand a runner at second base.
All three runs are credited to Connor Noland, but only one was earned. Noland is in line for the loss in a game that he pitched well.
Those missed opportunities with runners in scoring position are killing Arkansas. It has been home run or nothing for the Razorbacks so far this series.
Texas A&M 2, Arkansas 1 - Bottom 5th Inning
The Aggies have gone ahead after a tailor-made double play grounder went under the glove of Casey Martin and allowed Logan Foster to score from second base. Had Martin fielded it, it would have ended the inning.
Now the Aggies have runners on the corners, one out and top of the order back at the plate.
Arkansas 1, Texas A&M 1 - Bottom 5th Inning
Connor Noland ran out of gas quickly. Texas A&M recorded three singles in four at-bats against him in the bottom of the fifth inning, and the Aggies tied the game on Jonathan Ducoff's RBI hit up the middle.
Cody Scroggins is coming into the game trying to put out the fire. He will inherit Aggies on first and second base with one out in the inning.
Noland only threw 45 pitches today, which shows how aggressive Texas A&M has been. He made a great diving defensive play to tag out a runner for the only out so far in this half inning. Noland had to be tended to by Arkansas' trainer because of a pretty nasty dirt burn he took on the play.
He is in line for a no-decision, at best, and will be in line for a loss if one of these A&M base runners score.
Arkansas 1, Texas A&M 0 - Middle 5th Inning
Arkansas squandered another scoring opportunity in the fifth. Casey Martin singled to lead off the inning and stole second base, but Matt Goodheart, Dominic Fletcher and Heston Kjerstad all struck out looking.
Texas A&M pitcher Christian Roa has struck out seven batters today. Arkansas has struck out 40 times in this series.
The Razorbacks are now 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and 2-for-13 with runners on base.
Arkansas 1, Texas A&M 0 - End 4th Inning
Connor Noland is having his best road start of the year. He has only needed 33 pitches to retire 12 Texas A&M batters, and that includes two hits by the Aggies. His pitches are staying low in the zone today, which is important for a pitcher who pitches to contact like he does. The Aggies have not put many good swings on him.
Arkansas 1, Texas A&M 0 - Middle 4th Inning
Arkansas has been really bad this series driving in runs in good scoring opportunities. In fact, all 10 of the Razorbacks' runs this weekend have come on seven home runs.
In the fourth, Heston Kjerstad was hit to lead off the inning, Jack Kenley followed with a single and Casey Opitz reached with one out on a bunt squeeze that wasn't able to advance Kjerstad home, but that A&M couldn't field for an out.
Arkansas couldn't score, though, when Christian Franklin fouled out to the first baseman and Trevor Ezell grounded out. The Razorbacks have stranded six runners today.
Last night Arkansas was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and only 3-for-15 with runners on base. Today those numbers are 1-for-5 and 2-for-10.
Arkansas 1, Texas A&M 0 - End 3rd Inning
Connor Noland has pitched really well so far for Arkansas. He worked around a leadoff single in the third inning and retired three straight batters.
The Aggies only have two hits against him, but they are swinging and they aren't putting very good contact on the ball. Noland has only thrown 23 pitches.
Arkansas 1, Texas A&M 0 - Middle 3rd Inning
Arkansas put runners on the corners in the third when Trevor Ezell walked and Matt Goodheart reached on a two-out error by first baseman Hunter Coleman. Both were stranded, though, when Dominic Fletcher popped up to the shortstop.
Texas A&M pitcher Christian Roa has gotten a few of those weakly-hit popups today. He got two in the third. Casey Martin hit one for the second out.
Arkansas 1, Texas A&M 0 - End 2nd Inning
Texas A&M's first hit of the day is an infield single from catcher Mikey Hoehner, but Noland quickly induces a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning. He's thrown just 12 pitches, nine for strikes.
Nesbit, Ezell and Martin are due up for the Razorbacks in the top of the third.
Arkansas 1, Texas A&M 0 - Middle 2nd Inning
Quick inning for Roa on the mound. Jack Kenley rolled over a pitch to hit and grounded out to second, Christian Franklin struck out swinging and Casey Opitz flew out to left field.
Rain is beginning to come down in College Station as Noland heads out for his second inning of work. Texas A&M will send its 4-5-6 hitters to the plate in the home second.
Arkansas 1, Texas A&M 0 - End 1st Inning
Noland begins his outing by striking out Aggies leadoff man Braden Shewmake on three pitches. Bryce Blaum then grounded out to Jacob Nesbit on the second pitch he saw for the second out, and Zach DeLoach grounded to Trevor Ezell at second to end the frame. Noland threw only seven pitches.
Arkansas will bring Kenley, Franklin and Opitz to the plate in the second.
Arkansas 1, Texas A&M 0 - Middle 1st Inning
Casey Martin hit his third home run of the weekend to give the Razorbacks a first-inning lead. The one-out home run was his 15th of the season. Matt Goodheart then followed with an opposite-field base hit.
Dominic Fletcher struck out swinging and Heston Kjerstad grounded out to third to end the top of the inning and strand Goodheart at first. Connor Noland is heading to the mound for Arkansas.
Arkansas freshman Connor Noland will get the start for the Razorbacks in Game 3. Noland is making his team-leading 15th start of the season. He is 2-3 with a 3.99 ERA in 15 appearances, and opponents are hitting .249 against him. Noland is 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA against SEC competition.
The Aggies will send right-hander Christian Roa (2-2, 3.49 ERA) to the mound this morning. Roa has allowed 10 extra-base hits in 38.2 innings this season, and opponents are hitting .252 against him.
1B Trevor Ezell
SS Casey Martin
DH Matt Goodheart
CF Dominic Fletcher
RF Heston Kjerstad
2B Jack Kenley
LF Christian Franklin
C Casey Opitz
3B Jacob Nesbit
P Connor Noland
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