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.
Razorbacks take series with another big day at the plate
Arkansas center fielder Tavian Josenberger runs to home plate after hitting a home run during a game against Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas' baseball team had a response for every Eastern Illinois run Saturday.
The sixth-ranked Razorbacks answered runs in the third, seventh and eighth innings, and took the series with a 10-3 victory at Baum-Walker Stadium. Arkansas will attempt for a series sweep Sunday beginning at 1 p.m.
Brady Slavens and Jace Bohrofen had bases-loaded RBI hits against EIU right-handed reliever Chaney Trout as part of a five-run eighth inning for the Razorbacks (5-1).
The rally answered Cole Gober’s RBI single in the top of the inning that pulled the Panthers within 5-3.
"Whenever they scored, that was kind of the talk in the dugout, 'We've got to score a run. They score, we score,'" Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Momentum was kind of swinging to their side. They were excited and they were in the game, and they were just one big swing away from tying or taking the lead.
"We just found a way to get on and somebody came up with a hit, and we kept scoring."
Slavens’ eighth-inning single scored John Bolton, who led off the eighth with a single, and Bohrofen’s double plated two runs to put the Razorbacks ahead 8-3. Ben McLaughlin and Parker Rowland also had two-out RBI singles against Trout.
Arkansas scored seven runs with two outs. During their four-game win streak against Oklahoma State, Grambling State and EIU, the Razorbacks have scored 27 two-out runs.
"I think it's just a really good approach at the plate," Bohrofen said. "I think our guys are just really seeing the ball really well at the plate right now and not really giving in with two strikes.
"It's a good thing to see now. I feel like last year we didn't really figure that out until the postseason."
Bohrofen finished 3 for 4, doubled twice and walked once while batting fifth in the order. He nearly doubled a third time, but settled for a seventh-inning single when runners ahead of him were only able to advance one base on a hard-hit ball to the fence in right field.
Bohrofen is 7 for 10 with 3 doubles, 5 walks, 6 runs and 4 RBI during the winning streak.
"I think he's been a really tough out," Van Horn said. "I think he kind of frustrates pitchers. He'll foul off some pitches, but also take some borderline pitches early that he doesn't feel like he can get the barrel to and drive it. That's what you want.
"When he gets down in the count, he'll fight you a little bit. He's taken his walks, which is huge, and then when he's gotten a pitch he likes...he's getting his swing off. He's letting it go and he's hitting the ball hard."
Rowland, Slavens, Jared Wegner and Tavian Josenberger also had multiple hits for the Razorbacks.
Josenberger, Slavens, Bohrofen, McLaughlin and Rowland all had 2 RBI. Wegner led the Razorbacks with three runs.
Arkansas starting pitcher Will McEntire bounced back from a tough start to the season with a 4 2/3-inning outing. The right-hander allowed 1 run, 2 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 4.
McEntire allowed 5 runs and 9 hits in 2 innings during games against TCU and Grambling State.
"It was really good to see McEntire throw the ball a lot better today," Van Horn said.
McEntire said he, pitching coach Matt Hobbs and director of analytics DJ Baxendale worked earlier in the week to correct a hitch in his throwing motion.
“Apparently my arm slot had dropped a pretty significant amount and it was making my stuff more just spin and not really move as I needed it to," McEntire said. "So we got back on the the mound Thursday and I moved it back up because I’m more of an over-the-top pitcher, and I feel like my stuff was way better today. Credit to them for helping me fix that."
Koty Frank and Brady Tygart each allowed one run in relief for the Razorbacks. Frank pitched 2 1/3 innings and Tygart pitched the eighth.
Dylan Carter worked around a two-out single and walk during a scoreless ninth.
The Panthers’ first two runs came on solo home runs to lead off an inning. Kolten Poorman homered against McEntire in the third inning and pinch hitter Cade Zalewski homered against Frank in the seventh.
EIU (3-2) was out-hit 13-7. Arkansas stranded 11 base runners.
The Razorbacks scored their first five runs with two outs. Wegner doubled to right field and Slavens followed with an RBI single to left to give Arkansas a 1-0 lead against EIU right-hander Tyler Conklin in the first inning.
The Razorbacks took a 3-0 lead with a two-run home run by Josenberger to right field in the second inning. The homer was measured 352 feet and also scored Caleb Cali, who walked to lead off.
It was the second home run in four games for Josenberger, who homered twice in 52 games at Kansas last season.
"We didn't plan on him hitting the ball as far as he does," Van Horn said. "Give credit to him for working hard."
Poorman’s home run cut Arkansas’ lead to 3-1 in the top of the third. Bohrofen doubled to lead off the bottom of the inning and scored on Rowland’s two-out RBI double to give Arkansas a 4-1 advantage.
McLaughlin drew a two-out walk in the seventh inning to force home a run that gave the Razorbacks a 5-2 lead. Arkansas stranded the bases loaded when Rowland struck out against reliever Jonathon Hansom.
Conklin allowed 4 runs, 5 hits and 3 walks, and struck out 2 in a 5-inning start for the Panthers.
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