Fayetteville Regional Report: Diggs delivers again, opposing coach's mom makes short trip from Harrison

By: Tom Murphy Tom Murphy's Twitter account
Published: Saturday, June 3, 2023
Arkansas designated hitter Kendall Diggs follows through Friday, June 2, 2023, with a bases-clearing, three-run single to give the Razorbacks the lead during the fourth inning of the Razorbacks’ 13-6 win over Santa Clara in the first round of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
( Andy Shupe)
Arkansas designated hitter Kendall Diggs follows through Friday, June 2, 2023, with a bases-clearing, three-run single to give the Razorbacks the lead during the fourth inning of the Razorbacks’ 13-6 win over Santa Clara in the first round of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Kendall Diggs has been Mr. Clutch for the University of Arkansas with the bases loaded this season, and the sophomore delivered again during Friday’s 13-6 win over Santa Clara to open the NCAA Fayetteville Regional.

Diggs cleared the bases with a bloop single against flame-throwing reliever Skylar Hales to turn a 2-2 tie into a 5-2 Arkansas lead in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Diggs bumped his batting average up to .471 with 27 runs batted in, including two grand slams, in bases-loaded appearances this season.

“I mean, he’s super clutch,” said Arkansas center fielder Tavian Josenberger, who homered and had two hits. “You guys have seen it. Every time he comes up in a big situation like that, it seems like he comes through. It wasn’t a big surprise.”

Off the bat, Diggs’ hit looked like a fairly routine fly ball. However, because Diggs took a big swing, Santa Clara center fielder Coleman Brigman took an initial step back and it proved costly. Brigman then charged up and made a dive for the ball but it hit the grass and skittered away, allowing Parker Rowland, Josenberger and Peyton Holt to circle the bases.

More from WholeHogSports: How to watch, listen to Arkansas-TCU

“It wasn’t the usual liner in the gap or ball over the wall but it got the job done,” Josenberger said.

Arkansas had multiple other plate appearances with the bases loaded but had no other hits. However, Jared Wegner, Rowland and John Bolton drew bases-loaded, run-scoring walks in succession during the Hogs’ five run sixth inning.

8 is enough

Arkansas center fielder Tavian Josenberger hit his eighth home run of the season, his second from the right side of the plate and the first of the regional, a two-run shot off Santa Clara left-hander Nick Sando in the sixth inning, to put the Hogs ahead 7-3.

Josenberger’s opposite-field shot over the right field wall was his first since returning from a hamstring injury and his first since a solo home run in a 7-2 win over Tennessee on April 16.

Josenberger was given a bunt for a hit sign on the at-bat, but he couldn’t get a bunt down and bunted back a 2-1 pitch that was up in his eyes.

“Coach gave me bunt, and I didn’t get the bunt down,” Josenberger said. “I mean, looking back, it’s a good thing now. I got a fastball middle-away and put a pretty good swing on it and put it in the bullpen.”

Van Horn talked about giving Josenberger the “bunt for hit” sign on 2-1.

“We had a play where a ball almost hit him in the face, but we didn’t get the bat out of the way,” he said. “It would have been 3-1. Instead, it goes 2-2, and he decides to hit one in the net, and I was OK with it. He’s a good bunter. He would have gotten it done if I had given him a sac bunt.”

‘Loves her Hogs’

Pat Filter, the mother of Santa Clara Coach Rusty Filter, had to be rooting for the Broncos to be sent to Fayetteville.

Pat Filter has lived on a cattle ranch in Harrison for years, many of them before her husband Marty passed away a few years ago. She got to watch Friday’s game from a suite at Baum-Walker Stadium.

“We’re pretty familiar with the people in these parts,” Filter said. “It’s really nice to have my mom come to the game. Obviously she is a Rusty Filter fan first [but] she loves her Hogs, man.

“She loves football, she loves baseball. She’s all about it. So I think it it was nice for her, wanted us to win but just a great experience. … Just a special moment for me.”

Top 2s

Both of the “visiting” teams scored two runs in the top of the first inning, but in drastically different manners.

Santa Clara stringed together a single, flare double and single from Dawson Brigman, Michael O’Hara and Efrain Manzo to strike for two against Arkansas’ Hunter Hollan.

TCU starter Kole Klecker retired the first two Arizona batters before the Wildcats went quick strike on him. Arizona left fielder Chase Davis, one of the top prospects for the upcoming MLB Draft, smacked a 2-0 pitch with a 112 mph exit velocity to the wall in left center. On the next pitch Kiko Romero unloaded a two-run home run over the wall in right-center field.

TCU responded with four runs in the bottom of the first inning, leaving Arkansas as the only team not to score in the opening frame on Friday.

Gold gloves

TCU right fielder Austin Davis made the defensive play of the day. The swift senior was running at top speed to his left then laid out to glove what looked like a sure RBI double off the bat of Arizona designated hitter Tyler Casagrande to end the top of the second inning.

Arkansas second baseman Peyton Holt saved a run for Will McEntire in the fourth inning with a defensive gem. Holt ranged quickly to his right, jumped and extended to his full length to haul in a scalded line drive off the bat of JonJon Berring with runners on first and second and on the move with two outs.

In the eighth inning, Holt dipped down to spear a Michael O’Hara soft liner just off the dirt for the last out with runners on second and third.

Arkansas shortstop John Bolton made the first out of the ninth inning on a ball deep in the hole by Efrain Manzo on which he fired across the diamond as he started to fall while planting and slipping.

“Shortstop went in the hole and damn near did the splits and still made the play,” Santa Clara Coach Rusty Filter said of Bolton.

Santa Clara left fielder JonJon Berring made a strong running and jumping catch to snag a Kendall Diggs line drive for the final out of the first inning, then jumped to track down a Peyton Holt shot in the eighth.

No hits allowed

Santa Clara Coach Rusty Filter pulled starter Cole Kitchen after a leadoff walk to Caleb Cali in the fourth inning. At that point, Kitchen had allowed no hits but had walked four and hit a batter.

Arkansas put the heat on Kitchen in the third inning by loading the bases with two outs but he escaped by inducing a hard-hit grounder to first base from Brady Slavens on a 2-0 pitch after walking Peyton Holt and Kendall Diggs.

Kitchen was charged with one earned run allowed as the Razorbacks knocked relief ace Skylar Hales around during their five-run fourth.

Holt jolt

Arkansas second baseman Peyton Holt came out of the game after flying out to end the bottom of the eighth inning.

Coach Dave Van Horn described the reason for replacing Holt with Harold Coll as “something with a lower back or something,” but added the scrappy junior from Greenwood should be ready to play today.

“He wanted to stay in, but I just took him out,” he said.

Holt, moved up to the two hole, went 1 for 3 with 3 runs scored, 2 walks and a hit by pitch.

Big digs

Santa Clara played in front of more people on Friday than had attended all of its home games combined at Stephen Scott Stadium this year.

The Broncos drew a total of 9,139 fans in 26 home dates for an average of 352 per game. The Baum-Walker Stadium crowd was announced as 11,078 for the Arkansas vs. Santa Clara game.

The Razorbacks ranked third in the nation in total attendance with 327,871 in the regular season and fourth with an average of 9,643, behind Mississippi State (11,095), LSU (11,048) and Ole Miss (10,095).

Hollan hook

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn came with the hook for Hunter Hollan after 49 pitches, ending his shortest start of the season after 2 1/3 innings.

The lefty Hollan allowed 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks. He walked Dawson Brigman to open the third inning then got behind Michael O’Hara before retiring him on a ground ball to first baseman Brady Slavens. After the out, Van Horn popped out of the dugout to make the change to the surprise of many of the fans at Baum-Walker Stadium.

Replacement ump

Home plate umpire Billy Van Raaphorst apparently got too much sun and came out of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, just after Caleb Cali’s three-run homer had given Arkansas a 13-3 lead. Van Raaphorst, a regular on the College World Series umpire roster, was replaced by alternate Linus Baker, while Jason Harstick, Josh Schepic and Joe Blumenauer kept their spots from first to third.


Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.