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.
Razorback Report: Hogs shut down another lineup
Texas A&M's Austin Bost, left, singles against Arkansas during an NCAA college baseball game Friday, April 22, 2022, in College Station, Texas. (Michael Miller/College Station Eagle via AP)
For the fourth time in eight games, Arkansas pitching allowed three or fewer hits Friday night during a 2-1 loss at Texas A&M.
The Razorbacks held the Aggies to two hits. Texas A&M had scored 37 runs and recorded 31 hits over its two previous games against nationally ranked Georgia and Dallas Baptist.
Both of the Aggies’ hits Friday came against Arkansas starter Connor Noland, who did not allow an earned run in six innings.
Texas A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle was impressed with Noland’s poise in the fourth inning. The Aggies scored twice in the inning to take a 2-0 lead, but missed on an opportunity to break open the game.
“What a warrior,” Schlossnagle said of Noland. “We had that guy on the ropes. We had bases loaded, one out and in a hitter’s count, and we only end up with one more run. Then it seemed like he caught a second wind.”
Noland walked Kole Kaler to force home the Aggies’ second run in the fourth inning, but got Jordan Thompson to ground out with the bases loaded in the next at-bat.
That was the start of seven consecutive outs for Noland. He struck out Texas A&M’s No. 3, 4, 5 and 6 hitters in succession to end his outing.
“I was super impressed by him,” Schlossnagle said. “He deserved a lot of credit for keeping his team in the game.”
Evan Taylor pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Noland. Taylor did not allow a hit and worked around a one-out walk in the eighth.
“You had elite pitching,” Schlossnagle said. “That lefty they brought in, that’s a super impressive arm.”
Taylor lowered his team-best opposing batting average to .138 and WHIP to 0.69.
“He’s confident,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “He walks around out there and knows he’s good. He’s been really good for us.”
Beginning with an April 12 doubleheader against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Razorbacks have allowed a combined 36 hits in the last eight games. UAPB was held to 1 and 3 hits against Arkansas, and the Razorbacks limited LSU to 3 hits during a game last Friday.
Arkansas State had nine hits combined during a pair of midweek games at Arkansas earlier this week.
Going against his gut nearly backfired on Schlossnagle in the ninth inning when Robert Moore hit a fly ball hard to left field.
Moore, a switch hitter, batted from the right side against Texas A&M left-handed reliever Jacob Palisch. Left fielder Dylan Rock caught the ball at the warning track just in front of the wall.
“I told myself going into the ninth that I was going to make him hit left handed with the wind blowing out to left,” Schlossnagle said. “I went against it and we got lucky because he was on that baseball. It had a little bit of topspin and didn’t get out of the ballpark. When he hit that ball, I almost quit.”
Schlossnagle said Palisch was who he hoped to start Sunday against the Razorbacks, but that will not be possible after he threw 56 pitches in four scoreless innings Friday.
“I felt like when we had a chance to win the ballgame against such a great club in our division, we needed to take that shot,” Schlossnagle said. “So I’m not sure who is going to pitch on Sunday, because that was my starter right there.”
Texas A&M and Auburn made up a game on Arkansas in the SEC West race Friday.
The Razorbacks entered the day with a three-game lead over Texas A&M, Auburn and Alabama. Auburn defeated South Carolina 6-3 on Friday and Alabama lost 4-2 to Georgia.
Arkansas' 11-5 SEC record is two games better than Texas A&M and Auburn, which both have 9-7 SEC records.
• Arkansas lost an SEC road opener for the first time since a 2019 series at Vanderbilt. The Razorbacks had won nine consecutive series openers on the road.
• Schlossnagle said he tried to sign Arkansas designated hitter Brady Slavens when he coached at TCU.
• Arkansas’ 14 strikeouts tied its high in an SEC game this year. The Razorbacks also struck out 14 times against Kentucky in its SEC opener March 18.
• Connor Noland suffered his first loss since a March 4 game against Southeastern Louisiana.
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