Big Mac completes series win

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, March 12, 2023
Arkansas pitcher Will McEntire throws during a game against Louisiana Tech on Saturday, March 11, 2023, in Fayetteville.
( J.T. Wampler)
Arkansas pitcher Will McEntire throws during a game against Louisiana Tech on Saturday, March 11, 2023, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Will McEntire rested the well-tested bullpen for the No. 8 University of Arkansas on Saturday with a 97-pitch complete game in just over two hours that brought up thoughts of a Greg Maddux game.

McEntire allowed one unearned run on three hits and Kendall Diggs, Peyton Holt and Jace Bohrofen hit solo home runs to propel the Razorbacks to a 6-1 win over Louisiana Tech before a crowd of 10,086 at Baum-Walker Stadium.

“I just felt like I had most of my pitches today, and we knew they were going to be aggressive, and I’ve got to give credit to [Hudson] Polk behind the dish. He called a great game, getting a bunch of soft contact, and the defense played really well all day.”

The Razorbacks (12-2) won their seventh consecutive game, improved to 10-1 during a season-high 18-game home stand and clinched the series against the Bulldogs (8-6).

McEntire, nicknamed “Big Game Mac”, fired the first complete game of nine-plus innings for the Razorbacks since Dominic Taccolini had a 10-inning gem at Kentucky on April 22, 2016.

McEntire was asked how much he had left in the tank.

“I’m exhausted. Is that a Maddux though?” McEntire asked, referencing the famously fast-working, low pitch count Hall of Fame pitcher.

“For him to go out and give us nine innings in under 100 pitches, that was big for our bullpen,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. “I’m sure it was big for his confidence. Man, his cutter was really good today. It made his fastball look even harder than it was.

“I mean, we could see from the side that cutter was really moving, and if he didn’t get tired or just run into a bad inning he was going to be able to go for a while.”

McEntire had a couple of rough outings to open the season and started the day with a 6.17 ERA, which he lowered to 3.48 with the masterful outing.

“McEntire, I knew he’s struggled a little bit this year, but he’s a veteran pitcher,” Louisiana Tech Coach Lane Burroughs said. “He obviously pitched them into Omaha last year. That’s why he’s still pitching on the weekend. I thought he was really good.

“I thought he had his cutter slash slider working really well and had us out in front. … To me the whole game was the guy on the mound.”

McEntire got early support with Brady Slavens’ opposite-field flare RBI double in the first inning and the home run barrage in the second as Diggs launched an opposite-field shot to left-center and Holt stroked a 403-foot shot over the center-field wall.

“I was expecting him to try and blow a fastball by me since Kendall just had a really good at-bat, and then he surprised me with a slider, and he hung it and that was that,” said Holt, who improved his batting average to .364 in spot duty at third base.

The Diggs and Holt homers marked the fourth time the Razorbacks have turned that feat, including the three shots in a row from Peyton Stovall, Diggs and Caleb Cali against Illinois State.

Bohrofen homered for the fourth consecutive game to become the first Razorback to accomplish that feat since Cayden Wallace in the postseason last year.

McEntire pitched to early contact, getting nine fly ball outs through four innings on just 42 pitches.

The Bulldogs finally got on the board in the fifth inning with a crafty bunt and a little help from the Hogs. With one out, Adarius Myers dropped a well-placed bunt down the third-base line and Holt threw awry and into right field for a single and error. Karson Evans’ hard liner through the middle with two outs scored Myers to make it 4-1.

Louisiana Tech right-hander Rawley Hector (1-2) allowed 4 runs on 7 hits, including 3 homers, and 1 walk on 81 pitches through 4 2/3 innings.

Arkansas added a run in the fifth inning on Peyton Stovall’s RBI double and another in the eighth when Stovall tripled to center field and Jared Wegner knocked him in with a single.

The Razorbacks will go for the sweep today at 1 p.m.


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