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.
Late-inning rally ends second week of scrimmages for Diamond Hogs
Arkansas shortstop John Bolton bats Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, during play against the Texas Rangers Instructional League team at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — The second week of Arkansas’ preseason baseball scrimmages ended with a comeback Monday at Baum-Walker Stadium.
The Razorbacks’ Red team — a lineup consisting mostly of projected starting position players — scored twice in each of the final two innings to win the eight-inning scrimmage by a score of 5-4.
Isaac Webb and John Bolton had RBI hits in back-to-back eighth-inning at-bats against freshman right-hander Gage Wood. Webb’s double scored Jared Wegner to tie the scrimmage 4-4, and Bolton hit a go-ahead single to score Jace Bohrofen.
The comeback began in the seventh inning when Tavian Josenberger and Caleb Cali had RBI hits against sophomore right-hander Dylan Carter. Bolton hit a one-out triple and scored when Josenberger singled, and Cali plated Josenberger with his second RBI double of the day.
Bolton went 3 for 4 with 1 run and 1 RBI while batting ninth.
Cali finished 3 for 3 and walked once to continue his recent tear at the plate. During the Razorbacks’ last three open scrimmages, Cali is 8 for 10 with 9 RBI while batting third in the order.
“He’s pretty much just come in since the fall and hit,” Arkansas hitting coach Nate Thompson said of Cali on Sunday. “He continues to hit. It has been good.”
A 25 mph wind and a dropping temperature made for tough playing conditions, especially as night began to fall in the later innings.
The wind made it an eventful day in the field, including in the third inning when the Gray team capitalized on what could have been an inning-ending fly ball off the bat of Parker Rowland. The wind changed the ball's course at its high point and it dropped for a double.
Kendall Diggs followed with a hard-hit single past the diving glove of first baseman Brady Slavens to tie the scrimmage 1-1.
That was the only run allowed by Red starting pitcher Will McEntire, a fourth-year right-hander who allowed 3 hits and struck out 2 in 3 1/3 innings.
“Will is a lights-on guy — the closer you get to the beginning of the season, the better he gets,” Arkansas pitching coach Matt Hobbs said. “It’s good to see it because it gives you that head-on-the-pillow starter that you really feel good about. We all know what Will is capable of and what he did last year.
“I’m happy with where Will is at.”
More from WholeHogSports: Unofficial stats from Monday's scrimmage
Gray starter Brady Tygart, a sophomore right-hander, pitched well, too. Tygart allowed 1 unearned run, 2 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 1 batter in 3 innings.
“Brady was really good today,” Hobbs said. “Cali got him for a double in the first, but he threw really well after that. That was without having his breaking ball; he didn’t throw his breaking ball for strikes today, which is unusual for him.”
Carter replaced Tygart and pitched well until he ran into trouble in the seventh inning with consecutive one-out hits by Bolton and Josenberger. Carter pitched a scrimmage-long 4 innings and gave up 2 runs on 6 hits.
Cooper Dossett, a freshman right-hander from Springdale Har-Ber, pitched strong seventh and eighth innings to earn the win for the Red team. Dossett worked around 2 walks and struck out 6 batters, including the final 4 he faced in the eighth inning.
Hunter Grimes struck out for the would-be second out of the inning, but reached when catcher Hudson Polk was unable to handle the ball. Dossett struck out Mason Neville looking at a slider for the second out, and Peyton Holt struck out swinging to end the scrimmage.
Dossett was a redshirt candidate when he missed the fall due to an arm injury, but he has worked his way into contention to pitch at the back end of games.
“Coop has been really good,” Hobbs said. “We didn’t see him in the fall, obviously, because he was banged up coming in here, but I thought he was awesome today.”
The Gray team broke a 1-1 tie with a three-run fifth inning against sophomore right-hander Austin Ledbetter. Neville walked to lead off and scored on Diggs’ RBI double to the right-field fence. Ben McLaughlin added a two-run double later in the inning to balloon the lead to 4-1.
Diggs finished 2 for 3, walked once and scored once, and had 2 RBI. It was the second consecutive two-hit day for the sophomore in the lead-off position.
McLaughlin and Rowland also had two-hit days for the Gray team.
Other notes from Monday’s scrimmage:
• Right-handed pitcher Jaxon Wiggins skipped his scheduled start due to soreness. “This is very precautionary,” Arkansas pitching coach Matt Hobbs said. “He was a little bit behind the other guys and then tried to go and got some soreness.”
• Will McEntire won a 10-pitch battle against Kendall Diggs to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Diggs fouled off four consecutive two-strike pitches before grounding out to Brady Slavens at first base.
• John Bolton ran well on his seventh-inning triple. Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said earlier Monday that Bolton tweaked his hamstring last Friday.
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