Improving Bolton, Adcock key to series sweep

By: Matt Jones Matt Jones's Twitter account
Published: Saturday, April 29, 2023
Arkansas shortstop John Bolton throws during a game against Texas A&M on Saturday, April 29, 2023, in Fayetteville.
( J.T. Wampler)
Arkansas shortstop John Bolton throws during a game against Texas A&M on Saturday, April 29, 2023, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Two of the Arkansas baseball players who entered the interview room Saturday had redemption stories. 

Shortstop John Bolton has been a target for unhappy fans mostly because of his batting average, which was .175 before a 4-for-7 series against Texas A&M raised it to .202.

Right-handed pitcher Cody Adcock has had his own struggles. He came into his Saturday start with a 5.59 ERA, but lowered it to 5.06 with 4 scoreless innings against the Aggies. 

Neither player has a flattering stat line, but their recent play is reflective of the type of in-season adjustments needed by any team, and especially one facing so many injuries to key players. 

The sixth-ranked Razorbacks likely would not have completed their sweep of Texas A&M without solid play from Adcock and Bolton. Both were crucial to Arkansas’ 8-7 victory in the series finale. 

“That’s what we’ve talked about behind closed doors — we’ve got to have those guys if we’re going to have success, especially later in a weekend or in a regional or a tournament or anything,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said when asked about Bolton, Adcock and left-hander Zack Morris, who pitched a scoreless fifth inning before being charged with three two-out runs after he exited the game in the sixth. “We’ve got to have a little more depth there, especially with all the injuries. Those guys started out [the season well] and they kind of went the other direction. I think they’re climbing their way out and this the time of year they need to do it. Obviously we wouldn’t have won the game today without those guys.”  

Bolton finished 3 for 3 with 1 run and 2 RBI. From his position in the field he began inning-ending double plays in the fourth and eighth innings.

Bolton saved runs with his glove and was involved offensively in plays that contributed to five Arkansas runs. Every run scored — and prevented — mattered as the Aggies mounted a late comeback bid from an eight-run deficit.

Bolton scored the Razorbacks’ first run in the third inning when he reached on a bunt single. He also advanced a runner to third base in the fourth inning and had an opposite-field two-run single as part of Arkansas’ five-run fifth.

“Bolton had a great day,” Van Horn said. “Good for him.” 

Bolton, a 23-year-old transfer from Austin Peay, acknowledged he has struggled this year and indicated he has seen some of the comments made about his play. 

“You block out the outside noise by deleting Twitter,” said Bolton, who said he removed the social media app from his cell phone following a series at Ole Miss. “You’ve got to show up to the field every day with the confidence that today’s the day you bounce back. Baseball is a tough game and when you struggle for that long it gets tough, but today was the day I bounced back, so hopefully it can get me going and get that confidence going.” 

Adcock worked around a walk and struck out two in each of the first and second innings. He retired the Aggies in order in the third, but struggled with command near the end of his 72-pitch outing that came four days after he threw 45 pitches at Missouri State. 

The Aggies loaded the bases against him with a single, hit batsman and walk in the fourth inning. Bolton’s first double play came on the final pitch thrown by Adcock. 

“Every time somebody hits a ground ball to my right, I know this guy’s got me,” Adcock said motioning toward Bolton. “Him and [second baseman Peyton] Stovall making that play today, that was huge. I think that was a big zero there.” 

Saturday’s game marked Adcock’s first start in an SEC game since April 2 against Alabama. He did not pitch well when he entered in relief against his former team, Ole Miss, on April 7, then struggled some during a start against Arkansas-Little Rock the following midweek. 

Adcock was on the 27-man roster for the April 14-16 series against Tennessee, but did not pitch as the Razorbacks swept the Volunteers. Van Horn said Adcock had become "jittery" before the series.

Since not throwing against Tennessee, Adcock has allowed 3 runs in 13 innings over 4 appearances since April 18. Two of those outings were Tuesday starts against Central Arkansas and Missouri State, and he pitched well out of the bullpen after inheriting a 6-0 deficit at Georgia last week. 

“I think it definitely has something to do with it,” Adcock said when asked if not pitching against Tennessee motivated him. “When we swept Tennessee, it’s different when you feel like you didn’t contribute because you weren’t on the mound. Obviously I’m doing what I can at all points in time to help this team win and so is everyone else, but sitting on the bench all weekend really gave me time to think.”

Adcock said throwing off-speed pitches for strikes has been key to his recent play, especially glove-side sliders. 

“I feel like in the past I’ve gotten myself in trouble leaving sliders and things down the middle,” Adcock said. “Just making that correction, getting into my glove side has helped me a lot.” 

Like Adcock, Bolton’s performance Sunday was part of a pattern of recently improved play. Batting ninth, Bolton is averaging .263 with an on-base percentage of .462 in 9 games since April 14. 

He told the Razorback Sports Network he is becoming more comfortable in the batter’s box and has had good batting practice. 

“Even when my BP is good, it’s always different in the game,” Bolton said. “I’m starting to get back to that point where I’m starting to feel good in the game.”

For Bolton, the hitting stats don’t show his full impact on the Texas A&M series. He had three sacrifice bunts over the final two games. Those bunts advanced four base runners who scored. 

Counting his bunt single, Bolton had four successful bunts against the Aggies, including a risky two-strike sacrifice in the fourth inning of Friday’s game. 

“I work on it all the time and I know that's just kind of my role in the lineup, to get those bunts down,” Bolton said. “I’m never nervous to bunt; even with two strikes yesterday I got that bunt down. It’s my role, so it’s what I do.” 


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