Summer baseball notebook: McEntire makes most of early trip to Minnesota

Arkansas starter Will McEntire delivers to the plate Tuesday, March 10, 2020, against Grand Canyon during the third inning at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — While the Arkansas baseball team was battling North Carolina State in the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional, right-handed pitcher Will McEntire was more than 800 miles north watching the game on TV.

McEntire missed out on the super regional to join the Duluth Huskies of the Northwoods League. McEntire is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA and leads the Huskies with 6 starts. He has struck out 27 batters while walking 10.

"When I got sent up here I thought it would be a good decision to get started right away," McEntire said. "(I wanted) to go ahead and try and get as many reps as possible since I didn't play."

McEntire left the team in May to find a pitch that Kevin Kopps used all season to dominate teams, the cutter.

"I throw (a) majority cutters and last year my cutter was on," McEntire said.

In two appearances in the shortened 2020 season, McEntire threw 8 innings, allowed 1 earned run, and struck out 7 batters. He started Arkansas' March 10, 2020, game against Grand Canyon, two days before the season was shut down. He earned the win that day and allowed one run on a solo home run.

McEntire did not pitch during the 2021 season.

"This year when I came back for the fall and the spring I sort of lost it," he said. "Since that's my primary pitch, I got hit around pretty hard."

McEntire has taken advantage of his opportunities in Duluth, Minn.

"My cutter feels like it's back to normal," McEntire said. "And then (I'm) working on a changeup, so that way I have four pitches."

McEntire's strikeout numbers prove he's fooling batters. His 27 strikeouts are the second most among starters on the team. He said he feels like he's only made two mistakes all summer.

"I've missed it high twice and the two times I've missed it high they've hit a long ball off of me," he said.

McEntire is rooming with former Razorbacks Cason Tollett and Jesse Pierce, and Nate Wohlgemuth, who has entered his name into the transfer portal.

Teams in the Northwoods league play 66 regular-season games in 76 days. That, combined with the recent hot weather, has made this summer season a grind for McEntire.

"Duluth is right on the lake so it's about 75 everyday," he said. "But the last three days it's been like 92-93 and they don't have air conditioning up here, so that's been rough."

Cape Crusader

Arkansas outfielder Cayden Wallace was the difference in a Bourne Braves game against the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod League last week.

Wallace went 2 for 3 with a run scored, a home run and all 3 RBI to give the Braves a 3-1 win.

Wallace is batting .296 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI after a little more than a week on Cape Cod. The Braves have the best record (9-1-3) in the Cape Cod League.

Stars and Stripes

Arkansas underclassmen Robert Moore and Jaxon Wiggins have gotten some playing time for the USA Collegiate National Team.

Moore has started all four games for the Stars team. He is hitting .333 with 4 singles, 2 RBI and 5 runs. In his last game, Moore hit an RBI single to extend the Stars' lead.

Wiggins plays opposite of Moore on the Stripes team. In two innings pitched he has allowed 1 run and 3 hits, and struck out 4 with no walks. His two appearances, all in relief, are tied for the most on the team.

BYOF (Bring your own fireworks)

With the recent heat wave on the West Coast, firework shows were banned or severely limited this year, but that didn't seem to bother Zack Gregory.

On July 4, Gregory hit two home runs, gathered 3 RBI and walked twice in a 2 for 3 outing against the San Luis Obispo Blues.

Gregory's overall numbers for the Conejo Oaks of the California Collegiate League include a .222 batting average with 6 hits, 5 RBI and 2 home runs.

Over the last seven days Gregory is hitting .286 with an OBP of .565 and he's slugging .714.

Meanwhile Gregory's teammate, Razorback pitcher Evan Gray, saw his ERA raise to 6.13 in all games this summer. Gray has pitched 7 1/3 innings in four outings. He's struck out 12 batters, but also given up nine walks.

New Roles

Gabe Starks has found himself in a new role for the Santa Barbara Foresters of the California Collegiate League. The freshman from Pine Bluff has become an end-of-game pitcher for the Foresters.

In his five appearances this year, Starks has been the last pitcher four times and picked up one save. The save came in two innings of work in his last appearance for the Foresters, against the Oaks. He gave up just one hit and struck out three. The hit he gave up was a single by Gregory, his Arkansas teammate.

Heston Tole is also in a new role for the Blues of the California Collegiate League. In his second start, Tole pitched 3 1/3 innings, gave up 3 earned runs and 9 hits.

Tole didn't walk anybody and struck out five, but he was pinned with the loss, his first of the summer season.