Battles a hero as Hogs rally to stay unbeaten

By: Matt Jones Matt Jones's Twitter account , Seth Campbell
Published: Thursday, February 25, 2021
Arkansas catcher Casey Opitz (top) and center fielder Christian Franklin (left) join other players in congratulating shortstop Jalen Battles Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, after Battles hit the game-winning single to lift the Razorbacks over Southeast Missouri State 6-5 at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
( Andy Shupe)
Arkansas catcher Casey Opitz (top) and center fielder Christian Franklin (left) join other players in congratulating shortstop Jalen Battles Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, after Battles hit the game-winning single to lift the Razorbacks over Southeast Missouri State 6-5 at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas shortstop Jalen Battles was involved in two of the most crucial plays to the Razorbacks’ 6-5 comeback victory over Southeast Missouri State on Thursday at Baum-Walker Stadium.

Battles scored on a sacrifice fly to tie the game 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning, and hit an infield RBI single with the bases loaded in the 10th to bring home the winning run by Casey Opitz.

The No. 8 Razorbacks improved to 4-0. They have trailed in the eighth inning or later of three of their four wins this year.

Arkansas trailed SEMO 5-2 going into the ninth inning Thursday.

A one-out RBI single by Battles scored Cayden Wallace to pull the Razorbacks within 5-3. Christian Franklin walked with the bases loaded to make the score 5-4, setting up the game-tying run by Battles on a sacrifice fly by Cullen Smith.

It appeared Battles might have left third base too soon, but a replay review confirmed the field ruling of a run scored.

Arkansas nearly won the game moments earlier when Robert Moore hit a long fly ball off near the top of the wall in right-center field. There were runners on first and second base at the time, but both had to hold up to make sure the ball wasn't caught, and only advanced one base each.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn challenged the call to see if Moore had hit a home run that would have won the game. The call on the field was upheld upon review.

Opitz doubled with one out in the 10th and Wallace followed with a 14-pitch walk. Gregory was hit by a pitch to bring Battles to the plate for the game-winning hit.

The Razorbacks didn’t have much to celebrate until the late innings. SEMO (2-2) scored three runs against Arkansas starting pitcher Caleb Bolden in the first inning and Bolden — the reigning SEC co-pitcher of the week — was taken out of the game after recording just one out. He walked two batters and hit one.

In his first appearance of the season, Patrick Wicklander steadied things for the Razorbacks in relief of Bolden. Wicklander threw four scoreless innings.

Franklin hit a solo home run in the third to pull Arkansas within 3-1 and Brady Slavens hit a solo homer an inning later to make the score 3-2.

But SEMO starter Dylan Dodd worked around trouble multiple times to keep the Redhawks in the lead. Dodd struck out 10 in six innings, including the bases loaded to end the sixth.

SEMO added to its lead with two runs against Arkansas reliever Caden Monke in the eighth. Both runs scored on Danny Wright’s single.

The teams are scheduled to play Game 2 of their four-game series Friday at 3 p.m.

EARLIER

Clutch hitting in the 9th and 10th innings keep the Hogs undefeated in 2021.

The Razorbacks scored three runs in the 9th inning to tie the game and then a bases loaded infield single by Jalen Battles scored Casey Opitz to give Arkansas the victory.

More coverage from wholehogsports.com will come shortly.

Arkansas 6 SEMO 5 — FINAL

After a strikeout from Slaves, Opitz doubles off the SEMO bullpen to give the Hogs a baserunner.

What an at-bat by Cayden Wallace. He works a walk and the Hogs have two runners on. After a mound visit SEMO's pitcher is done.

Blake Cisneros is in to pitch for the Redhawks.

Cisneros hits Gregory on the first pitch. Now it's bases loaded with one out for Battles.

Jalen Battles bounces a ball up the middle that hits off the pitchers' glove. Nobody can field it and the Hogs walk it off. What a game by the Razorbacks.

SEMO 5, Arkansas 5 — Middle 10

Jaxon Wiggins comes in pumping 98 mph on a cold day.

Gray - 1.0IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K, 11 pitches.

Wiggins retires the side in order getting two strikeouts and a groundout to first to end the top of the 10th.

SEMO 5, Arkansas 5 — End 9

Casey Opitz reaches on a slow roller to the shortstop. A very nice play by the SEMO third baseman keeps leads to Opitz being thrown out at 2nd. Wallace laced a ball down the third baseline, but Leeper made probably the best play of the night to stop it.

Gregory singles and Wallace advance to third to bring the tying run to the plate in Jalen Battles. Battles hits a ball off the end of the bat, but it gets into center and scores a run.

Robert Moore now steps to the plate as the winning run. SEMO goes to the pen and brings in freshman Kyle Miller.

Robert Moore hit one that bounced off the top of the fence in right field. It was originally ruled in play so it would result in a single, but the play is under review. After review the call is confirmed. Bases loaded 1 out for Christian Franklin.

Franklin works a full count and walks. Smith up with the Hogs down one.

Smith flied out to right, Battles who was tagging up at third was really close to leaving early, but on review they said he was safe. This game is tied with Webb up to bat and runners on first and second.

SEMO 5, Arkansas 2 — Middle 9th

Gray gets a strikeout looking, a lineout to center to start the inning.

AFter a line-drive single to right a groundout to first ends the inning.

Last chance coming up for the Hogs in the 9th. Opitz, Wallace and Gregory and due up.

SEMO 5, Arkansas 2 — End 8th

Two ground balls to the second baseman and a strikeout by Slavens move us to the 9th inning.

Evan Gray is going to pitch the 9th for the Hogs. Gray is making his season debut.

Costeiu - 0.2 IP, 0R, 0H, 0BB, 1K, 6 pitches.

I would bet we would see Costeiu again this weekend. He's been one of the first arms to come out of the pen early this season.

SEMO 5, Arkansas 2 — Middle 8th

A leadoff single up the middle and a swinging bunt up the third baseline give SEMO two runners on and nobody out. Monke then balks to move both runners into scoring position.

Ryan Costeiu is warming for the Hogs

The infield is in and Costeiu is warm, but Monke is staying in the game. He gets a strikeout on a ball in the dirt.

The next batter Danny Wright hits a line drive into center, two runners score and the day is done for Monke.

Monke: 3.0IP, 3 H, 2R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3K, 40 pitches.

The runner on first is thrown out on a delayed steal. The Hogs have 6 outs to get 3 runs.

SEMO 3, Arkansas 2 — End 7th

Battles and Moore hit hard grounders to the third baseman and second baseman for the first two out of the inning. They tagged them, but just hit it right at people. Franklin follows with a slow roller to third that is fielded and thrown to get Franklin by a few steps.

Monke going out for his third inning of work.

SEMO 3, Arkansas 2 — Middle 7th

Monke gets the Redhawks to go in order. A very nice play by Robert Moore and second base ends the inning. He charged a slow roller to his right and threw out the runner by a step. Up the middle is very strong for Arkansas this year.

SEMO goes to the bullpen and gets righty Austin Williams.

Battles then the top of the order due up for the Hogs in the 7th.

SEMO 3, Arkansas 2 — End 6th

Cullen Smith and Brady Slavens are playing at third and first, respectively, for the first time in a game this season and both just made good defensive plays to get the Hogs to the bottom of the fifth.

Smith made a rangy play to his left and threw out Andrew Keck for the second out of the inning. Lincoln Andrews followed with a ground ball in the hole between first and second, and Slavens made a nice backhanded stop and flipped to Caden Monke for the out.

Cayden Wallace gets the count full and works a walk. Zack Gregory swung at three straight breaking balls and leaves the bases loaded for the Hogs in the 6th

SEMO 3, Arkansas 2 — Middle 6th

Monke throws 11 pitches and gets 3 outs to send the Hogs back to the dugout. Monke has been very efficient today.

Dodd is going back out for his 6th inning of work for SEMO. He's thrown over 80 pitches already.

SEMO 3, Arkansas 2 — END 5th

Zach Gregory gets hit to lead off the inning, but the Hogs strand him there. Both Moore and Franklin hit shots that inning. Moore laced a ball to right center, but the center fielder tracked it down before it could drop, and Franklin just hit it to the deepest part of the park in center field. The center fielder caught it on the track. If he hits it anywhere else the Hogs are leading.

Monke will start the 6th for Arkansas. Ryan Costeiu is throwing lightly in the bullpen.

SEMO 3, Arkansas 2 — Middle 5th

Cullen Smith and Brady Slavens are playing at third and first, respectively, for the first time in a game this season and both just made good defensive plays to get the Hogs to the bottom of the fifth.

Smith made a rangy play to his left and threw out Andrew Keck for the second out of the inning. Lincoln Andrews followed with a ground ball in the hole between first and second, and Slavens made a nice backhanded stop and flipped to Caden Monke for the out.

Monke entered the game after Patrick Wicklander walked Tyler Wilber with one out. Wicklander's final line: 4 scoreless innings, 4 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts.

The bottom of the Razorbacks' lineup will come to the plate in the bottom of the fifth.

SEMO 3, Arkansas 2 — End 4th

Brady Slavens gets Arkansas another run one a homer to right-center field. He hit it on a line right at the scoreboard.

That's it for the Hogs in the 4th. Dodd has been hit hard a few times, but he's also caused the Hogs to pop up the ball as well.

Wicklander is going out for his 5th inning of work. He's thrown 50 pitches, 35 strikes.

SEMO 3, Arkansas 1 — Middle 4th

Dodd struck out the first two batters before Christian Franklin deposited a ball in the Razorback bullpen to get the Hogs on the board. The ball didn't seem to carry as well as it would later in the season, but it definitely had enough juice to get out.

Webb, Slavens and Opitz are due up for the Razorbacks.

SEMO 3, Arkansas 0 — Middle 3rd

Wicklander retires the side in order. Two strikeouts and a groundout get the Hogs back in the dugout. So far Wicklander has responded well to not pitching last weekend.

SEMO 3, Arkansas 0 — End 2nd

The Razorbacks go in order in the 2nd. Dodd was sitting 93-95 mph with his fastball in the 1st inning. He mixed in some offspeed in the 2nd and kept the Razorbacks guessing.

SEMO 3, Arkansas 0 — Middle 2nd

The Redhawks get what's called a 2-out triple, Franklin dove for a ball and missed it in center, but that's it. Wicklander has filled up the zone in his two innings of work, something that he struggled with in spring practice.

SEMO 3, Arkansas 0 — End 1st

After Dodd struck out Moore and Franklin on 6 pitches, the Hogs work a walk and hit-by-pitch, but that's it in the inning. Slavens was just ahead of the first pitch he saw and hit it down the line foul.

SEMO 3, Arkansas 0 — Middle 1st

SEMO loads the bases with two walks and a hit-by-pitch. A fastball is then laced into right field. One run scores, but Bolden is really laboring on the mount currently and that will be it for him. He face 5 batters and got one out.

Patrick Wicklander will come in out of the bullpen for the Razorbacks in his first appearance of the year.

Wilber scores on a fielder's choice and Keck scores after Opitz throws down to second, but doesn't get the runner. The inning ends on a fly out to right.

Not a great start for the Razorbacks. With the first and third steal you have to get at least one out, but the Razorbacks couldn't execute. Wicklander is throwing strikes, but he inherited a mess.

Lineups

Arkansas

2B Robert Moore

CF Christian Franklin

3B Cullen Smith

DH Braydon Webb

1B Brady Slavens

C Casey Optiz

RF Cayden Wallace

LF Zack Gregory

SS Jalen Battles

P Caleb Bolden

SEMO

3B Peyton Leeper

1B Austin Blazevic

SS Tyler Wilber

C Andrew Keck

DH Lincoln Andrews

CF Danny Wright

RF Braxton Zivic

LF Ty Stauss

2B Connor Basler

P Dylan Dodd

Pregame

SEMO coach Andy Sawyers played and coached under Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. Saywers played for Van Horn for one season in 1998, and was the Cornhuskers’ volunteer assistant coach in 2000. Sawyers is one of six Division I head coaches who are former Van Horn assistants.

Attendance will be limited to around 4,200 for Arkansas’ home games this season due to covid-19 protocols.

Arkansas’ Caleb Bolden was named SEC co-pitcher of the week after striking out seven batters during a four-inning save against Texas at the College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas.

SEMO starting pitcher Dylan Dodd was the winner in the Redhawks’ 4-2 win over South Alabama last Friday. Dodd allowed 1 run on 3 hits and 1 walk, and struck out 8 batters in 6 innings.

SEMO won two of three games at South Alabama on its first weekend of play.

The Redhawks’ director of offensive player development is Trevor Ezell, who was an All-SEC first baseman at Arkansas in 2019. Ezell transferred to the Razorbacks from SEMO….

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