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 sweep Louisiana Tech with Sunday runaway
Arkansas outfielder Jace Bohrofen (8) celebrates with first-base coach Bobby Wernes after hitting a lead-off double, Sunday, March 12, 2023, during the second inning between the Razorbacks and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — The biggest inning of the season powered the No. 8 Arkansas baseball team Sunday.
The Razorbacks scored nine runs in the third inning and defeated Louisiana Tech 15-6 to sweep the weekend series at Baum-Walker Stadium. Arkansas (13-2) won its eighth consecutive game and improved to 11-1 during an 18-game homestand.
Every starting position player reached base at least once for the Razorbacks, who out-hit the Bulldogs 11-5 and drew a season-high 12 walks.
Arkansas outscored Louisiana Tech 28-11 during the series. The Bulldogs (8-7) are projected to win the Conference USA championship.
"It was a good job by our team all weekend finding a way to win three games," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Today was more about taking advantage of what they didn’t do well."
Jared Wegner’s opposite-field 2-run home run went 372 feet to right-center field to tie the game 3-3 in the third. Then the Razorbacks scored 7 two-out runs to blow the game open.
Kendall Diggs’ 2-run homer went 344 feet to right field to put Arkansas ahead 5-3. Peyton Holt followed with a triple to chase Louisiana Tech right-handed starter Reed Smith, and the Bulldogs’ bullpen quickly came unwound.
Right-hander Landon Tomkins, who entered with a 0.71 ERA and 0.95 WHIP, walked 5 consecutive hitters, including 3 with the bases loaded. Three of Tomkins’ 23 pitches were strikes.
"I think they wanted to get their pitcher out, but they didn't have anybody ready yet," Van Horn said, "and they were just hoping he could flip the switch."
Brady Slavens added a two-run single on the first pitch from Louisiana Tech’s second reliever, left-hander Ryan Harland, to give the Razorbacks a 10-3 lead.
Arkansas sent 14 hitters to the plate during the inning and hit multiple home runs in the same inning for the third time in the series. It was the fourth time the Razorbacks have scored at least 7 two-out runs.
"Not many teams are going to survive a nine spot, that’s for sure," Louisiana Tech coach Lane Burroughs said on the Bulldogs' post-game radio show. "I’ve been doing this 27 years and I don’t think I’ve ever survived one of those."
The big third inning erased a rough start for Arkansas left-hander Hunter Hollan, who hit three batters and threw a wild pitch as the Bulldogs took a 3-0 lead in the second inning. The inning also included a throwing error by Holt, the third baseman, and Louisiana Tech had just one base hit.
Hollan (3-0) rebounded to retire the final 11 hitters he faced. He allowed 1 earned run and 2 hits, and struck out 7 during his 5-inning, 77-pitch start that lowered his ERA to 2.18.
"I really had all five pitches working, which was the first time this season," Hollan said. "You're never going to have all your all your best stuff, but today I threw the most curveballs I have all season and I was landing them in 0-0 counts and getting ahead."
Arkansas got a run back in the bottom of the second inning when Jace Bohrofen led off with a double and came home on Holt’s one-out RBI grounder to the middle infield. Holt reached on a throwing error by Louisiana Tech shortstop Jeffrey Ince.
The Razorbacks scored 6 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks against Reed, who pitched 2 2/3 innings.
Louisiana Tech pulled within 10-6 when freshman catcher Karson Evans hit a three-run home run against Cody Adcock in the sixth inning. Evans, a freshman who did not debut until Friday's game, finished the series 4 for 11 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI.
"We’ve got one guy showing up to the ballpark ready to play and it’s him," Burroughs said. "He got his opportunity and he got in there and he’s made the most of it."
The Razorbacks scored four runs in the seventh. Peyton Stovall’s fielder’s choice RBI scored John Bolton, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and Stovall scored on a passed ball by Evans.
Bohrofen added a two-run single in the eighth. Bohrofen finished 2 for 4, walked once and scored twice, and raised his team-best batting average to .447.
Bolton scored again in the eighth inning when he singled and scored on Stovall’s sacrifice fly. Stovall finished with 3 RBI, but had a seven-game hitting streak end.
Wegner drew his fifth walk in the eighth to tie the school record set twice previously by Jake Dugger against Alabama in 2006 and Jim Kremers against Northwest Missouri State in 1985. Wegner’s home run extended his team-leading hit streak to eight games.
"We're doing a pretty good job as far as the free passes compared to the strikeouts, and that includes walks and hit by pitches," Van Horn said. "Jared is way, way...six ahead on free passes to strikeouts."
Freshman right-handers Gage Wood and Christian Foutch each pitched a scoreless inning in relief for the Razorbacks. Foutch made his debut and worked around a two-out walk in the ninth inning.
"I really liked what I saw from the two freshmen that pitched at the end," Van Horn said. "They threw with some conviction and some velocity and had good secondary pitches."
Adcock allowed 2 earned runs, 2 hits and 1 walk, and struck out 2 in a 2-inning relief appearance that Van Horn said was "as good as he's thrown it."
Arkansas is scheduled to play again Tuesday for the start of a two-game series against UNLV. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
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