Carter saves Razorbacks' 6th consecutive win

Arkansas reliever Dylan Carter follows through with a pitch Friday, March 10, 2023, during the seventh inning of the Razorbacks’ 7-4 win over Louisiana Tech at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas right-hander Dylan Carter pitched the final three innings again Friday at Baum-Walker Stadium. 

Three days after earning the win in three innings of relief against Army, Carter earned his first career save as the Razorbacks' eighth-ranked baseball team defeated Louisiana Tech 7-4 in the series opener. The teams are scheduled to play again Saturday at 2 p.m. 

Carter did not allow a run and faced the minimum number of hitters against the Bulldogs. He threw 23 of 35 pitches for strikes, struck out 2 batters and the Razorbacks erased the only hit he allowed with a shortstop-to-second base-to-first base double play in the eighth inning. 

Carter retired all three hitters he faced in the 10-pitch ninth inning. 

“After the seventh inning, Coach [Matt] Hobbs came out and told that we had six more outs to get and that I was the one that needed to finish the game,” Carter said. “That was the goal.” 

Carter preserved a 6-4 lead when he retired Louisiana Tech’s Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters in the seventh inning. He inherited runners at first and second base from right-hander Cody Adcock, who allowed a single and a walk to start the inning. 

Louisiana Tech third baseman Ethan Bates, a Hot Springs native who played for the Razorbacks in 2021, grounded out to end the top of the seventh. Arkansas first baseman Brady Slavens made a sliding stop and flipped to Carter covering the base for the out.

“Bates put a pretty good swing on the ball and hit it hard down the line,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “Brady made a really nice play.” 

The scoreless seventh swung momentum back to the Razorbacks (11-2), who had allowed 2 two-out runs to the Bulldogs in both the fifth and sixth innings. Arkansas also stranded the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth. 

“You go back to the previous half inning where we didn’t score with the bases loaded, it was pretty frustrating,” Van Horn said. “Then they go out and they get two runners on with no outs…and he had to go through the heart of that order.”

Carter, a Bentonville West High School graduate who redshirted last season after transferring from Crowder (Mo.) College, continued an impressive stretch of outings that have helped an Arkansas bullpen thinned by injuries this month. Beginning with a Feb. 25 game against Eastern Illinois, Carter has allowed 2 runs, struck out 9 and has a 1.11 WHIP in 11 2/3 innings. 

“I know they’ve had some injuries and lost two of their main bullets, but I thought [Carter] was absolutely attacking us with his fastball,” Louisiana Tech coach Lane Burroughs said. “His breaking ball was really good there at the end and getting beneath our barrels. He made some good pitches.” 

Arkansas scored four runs in the second inning on a pair of two-run home runs by Jace Bohrofen and Parker Rowland. 

Bohrofen’s homer with no outs was wind aided and traveled 351 feet before bouncing off the wall of the Hunt Baseball Development Center in right field. Rowland hit a 404-foot homer to center field came with one out in the inning. 

Both homers were hit against Louisiana Tech left-hander Jonathan Fincher, the projected pitcher of the year in Conference USA and a preseason All-American named by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Fincher (2-2) allowed 5 runs, 7 hits and 3 walks, and struck out 2 during his 4-inning, 87-pitch loss. 

“At the end of the day he’s expected to go out and pitch us into the fifth or sixth inning, and right now he’s not doing it — not just tonight,” said Burroughs, who noted lower-than-usual velocity on Fincher's pitches. “He’s not getting it done.”

The Razorbacks tacked on a run against Fincher after loading the bases with no outs in the third inning. Kendall Diggs’ fielder’s choice RBI scored Slavens from third base to make the score 5-0.

Rowland hit into an inning-ending double play to strand a runner — a theme for Arkansas, which left 13 on base. The Razorbacks stranded the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh innings, and went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. 

Arkansas left-handed starter Hagen Smith struggled with command and walked four in the first three innings, but had a no-hitter until Louisiana Tech (8-5) broke through in the fifth. The Bulldogs had three consecutive one-out hits to load the bases, and Dalton Davis’ two-out single scored Brody Drost and Logan McLeod to cut the Razorbacks’ lead to 5-2. 

Smith stranded two runners when clean-up hitter Jorge Corona grounded into a fielder's choice. Smith (3-0) earned the win with a 5-inning start that included 2 runs, 4 hits, 4 walks and 7 strikeouts in 86 pitches. 

“I thought he had good stuff,” Van Horn said. “I think probably the [perfect] fourth inning might have been his best…when he was ahead of the hitters. 

“He just needs to put more of those type innings together. If he does, he’s going to give us seven or eight innings, and that’s what we’d love.” 

Diggs’ sacrifice fly in the fifth scored Jared Wegner to put Arkansas ahead 6-2. Karson Evans hit a two-run home run to left field against Adcock in the sixth to pull Louisiana Tech within 6-4. 

Evans, a freshman first baseman, went 2 for 4 with a pair of extra-base hits in his college debut. He replaced Philip Matulia in the lineup. Matulia, who leads the Bulldogs with six home runs and 16 RBI, missed the game with neck soreness. 

“Karson is a guy that needs to be in there,” Burroughs said. ‘We’ve been trying to find a way to get him in the lineup and you saw why. He’s strong, he’s powerful, he’s athletic and he’s tough, and he doesn’t back down.” 

Arkansas won its sixth consecutive game and improved to 9-1 during its homestand that will last 18 games.