Hogs shut down LSU, win after big bops in 10th

By: Matt Jones Matt Jones's Twitter account
Published: Friday, March 24, 2023
Arkansas pinch hitter Reese Robinett (18) is greeted by teammates after hitting a home run in the 10th inning of an NCAA college baseball game Friday, March 24, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La. ( Michael Johnson/The Advocate via AP)
Arkansas pinch hitter Reese Robinett (18) is greeted by teammates after hitting a home run in the 10th inning of an NCAA college baseball game Friday, March 24, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La. ( Michael Johnson/The Advocate via AP)

Two Arkansas pitchers dueled college baseball's most dominant pitcher and shut down the nation's highest-scoring lineup Friday at Alex Box Stadium. 

Left-handers Hunter Hollan and Hagen Smith combined to pitch all 10 innings of the third-ranked Razorbacks' 9-3 victory at top-ranked LSU. 

Arkansas (20-2, 4-0 SEC) won its 15th consecutive game and handed the Tigers (19-3, 2-2) their first home loss. The teams are scheduled to conclude their series Saturday with a doubleheader. Game times are scheduled for 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in Baton Rouge, La. 

More from WholeHogSports: How to watch and listen, pitching plans for doubleheader

After Hollan and Smith combined to hold the Tigers to one run in regulation, the Razorbacks' bats broke through against the LSU bullpen with an eight-run 10th inning.

Freshman pinch hitter Reese Robinett hit a three-run home run with one out to put Arkansas ahead 4-1, and sophomore designated hitter Kendall Diggs added a two-out grand slam in the top of the 10th. 

Robinett’s homer was measured 421 feet to left-center field. Diggs’ 396-foot homer was pulled to right-center field. 

Robinett had the first pinch-hit homer by a Razorback since Charlie Welch against Nebraska during the decisive game of the 2021 NCAA regional in Fayetteville. 

"You couldn't ask for anything more," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "You have a freshman pinch hitting on the road at LSU, and the first time he swung the bat he hit it 400 [feet] opposite field to give us a three-run lead. 

"I'm just glad we kept tacking on runs because I felt like we needed to keep scoring. I've been a part of a lot of games down here and no lead is safe."

LSU center fielder Dylan Crews, a top-rated prospect for this year's MLB Draft, hit a two-run home run against Smith in the bottom of the 10th, but the Tigers never threatened in the final inning. 

Smith, who was Arkansas' No. 1 starter until he moved to the bullpen last week, threw 80 pitches during his 4 2/3-inning relief appearance that included 3 runs, 5 hits, 3 walks and 8 strikeouts.

Hollan allowed 3 hits, walked 1 and struck out 7 during an 87-pitch start that lasted 5 1/3 innings. 

The Tigers averaged 11 runs through their first 21 games. 

"If you ask anybody in our lineup if they had to face me and Hagen...it's not a fun combo," said Hollan, who added, "It's definitely a hard task."

More from WholeHogSports: Social media post lit Hollan's fire at LSU

Hollan and Smith were as effective as LSU right-hander Paul Skenes, who entered with college baseball’s lowest WHIP and highest strikeout total, and shut down the Razorbacks for most of his seven-inning start. 

Skenes allowed 1 run, walked 3 and struck out 12. He threw 105 pitches and his fastball touched 102 mph.

“It was two good teams going at it,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said. “You can’t ask for a better performance than what Paul Skenes delivered today; it was complete domination. 

"Unfortunately for us, Hunter Hollan was really good, and Hagen Smith is a guy we really had a hard time with last year. You have to credit those guys for executing pitches."

Arkansas broke through against Skenes in the fourth inning when Tavian Josenberger led off with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Peyton Stovall to give the Razorbacks a 1-0 lead. 

That score stood until LSU scored its first run on a one-out homer by nine-hole hitter Brady Neal in the eighth inning. The Tigers loaded the bases against Smith later in the inning, but Tre’ Morgan popped up to Arkansas third baseman Harold Coll in foul ground to strand three. 

Smith worked well with runners on base in critical moments, including the sixth inning when he replaced Hollan with a runner on first base and one out. Smith struck out the Tigers' Nos. 2 and 3 hitters, Crews and Tommy White, to preserve a 1-0 lead. 

"He's a crazy talent and it's awesome to be able to watch him pitch," Hollan said of Smith. 

LSU also put two runners aboard against Smith in the seventh, but catcher Parker Rowland picked off Brayden Jobert at first base to end the inning with a runner in scoring position. 

Van Horn said Smith, Rowland and first baseman Brady Slavens called the pick play. 

"They have the option to call it," Van Horn said. "Brady, being a veteran, and Rowland throws really well from his knees — he back picked and made a perfect throw. 

"That was a big momentum killer at the time." 

VIDEO: Van Horn, Arkansas players recap 9-3 win at LSU

Jobert was one of two LSU base runners to be thrown out. Morgan tripled with two outs against Hollan in the fourth inning, but was tagged out easily by Hollan at home plate after he tried to score on a wild pitch that didn’t get far from Rowland. 

"It was a good job by the catcher and the pitcher, first off," Van Horn said. "Rowland didn't just sprint over to the ball and turn and panic and throw. He knew he had time and made a perfect throw to Hollan. [Morgan] didn't even get to the plate, so a big play." 

The Razorbacks rarely threatened against Skenes, but drove up his pitch count when they drew three walks in the sixth inning. Skenes entered the game with four walks in 30 1/3 innings. 

Skenes struck out Slavens to strand the bases loaded in the sixth. 

"Skenes was as advertised," Van Horn said. "I've never seen a better arm at this level. It's unbelievable."

Arkansas wasted a lead-off single by Stovall in the top of the ninth inning against LSU reliever Chase Shores. Smith struck out all three hitters he faced in the bottom of the ninth. 

Diggs walked to lead off the 10th against Shores. After a pitching change to right-hander Christian Little, Rowland walked with one out to bring Robinett to the plate. 

On a 1-0 pitch, Robinett drove a 95 mph fastball the opposite way. The swing had an exit velocity of 104 mph. 

It was Robinett's second career home run. He homered for the first time during the fourth inning against Southeast Missouri State three days earlier. 

"I felt really good in the mid-week game...and then today I feel really comfortable at the plate," Robinett said.

Arkansas sent 11 batters to the plate in the 10th inning. Slavens’ sacrifice fly put the Razorbacks ahead 5-1, and Diggs hit his first career grand slam. 

It was the second time in two games Arkansas batted around in an inning. The Razorbacks sent 13 batters to the plate during a 10-run sixth inning against SEMO.


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