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.
Social media post lit Hollan's fire at LSU
Arkansas pitcher Hunter Hollan (39) delivers against LSU in the second inning of an NCAA college baseball game Friday, March 24, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La. ( Michael Johnson/The Advocate via AP)
Arkansas left-hander Hunter Hollan made a name for himself Friday at LSU as he held his own while pitching opposite two-time All-American Paul Skenes.
Hollan, who allowed 3 hits and 1 walk, and struck out 7 in 5 1/3 scoreless innings, helped the third-ranked Razorbacks to a 9-3 victory over the top-ranked Tigers in 10 innings at Alex Box Stadium.
“I thought Hunter Hollan was amazing pitching to that lineup on the road,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “The wind was blowing out about 15 mph pretty consistently and we had a full house for a 12 o’clock game on a Friday. It was a late-arriving crowd that showed up and about the second [inning] it was full. He kept us in the game.”
Hollan found some added motivation on social media prior to Friday’s noon first pitch.
It came in the form of a Twitter post that referenced next week’s series between LSU and Tennessee, in particular an expected Game 1 pitching matchup between the right-handed Skenes and Tennessee right-hander Chase Dollander — the top two pitchers available in this year’s MLB Draft, according to Baseball America.
“I saw this tweet this morning that said, ‘We’re seven days away from the pitching duel of the year,’” Hollan said, “and it was Dollander vs. Skenes. That kind of got the fire in the butt a little bit.”
Hollan is well known in baseball circles — Baseball America rates him the No. 183 prospect for this year’s draft — but not so much on a broad scale. He transferred to Arkansas from San Jacinto (Texas) College last summer.
“Knowing that social media-wise people don’t really know me or whatever, [I wanted to] just go in and compete in the zone,” Hollan said. “We had a really good scouting report and stuck to it, and it paid off.”
Hollan said teams had been “pitching scared” to the LSU lineup that entered the series leading college baseball in scoring and leading the SEC in on-base percentage. The key, he said, was not to throw fastballs away to the Tigers’ power hitters when falling behind in the count.
Two of his most effective pitches were a fastball at the top of the strike zone and a breaking ball that went away from left-handed batters and inside on right-handers.
“You’ve just got to compete in the zone,” Hollan said. “I threw [inside] to them and [said], ‘Here’s my best stuff; hit it.’”
Hollan threw 21 pitches and worked around an infield hit by Dylan Crews during the first inning. He allowed two base runners between the second and fifth innings.
“I was trying to see them swing, see what they’re sitting on and see what their scouting report was on me,” Hollan said. “Then once we kind of found that out, just attack with those pitches.”
Hollan replaced left-hander Hagen Smith as the Razorbacks’ No. 1 weekend starter last week. Smith was moved to a relief role to help stock the bullpen that had been plagued by injuries.
Hollan and Smith combined to strike out 15 Tigers. They limited LSU to 13 base runners.
Van Horn, who said he was “ecstatic” with the way the left-handed duo performed, recalled the mound visit when he removed Hollan from the game.
“He started walking down the mound and was going to give me the ball,” Van Horn said. “Obviously he would have liked to have stayed in the game, but he wasn’t arguing with me or anything.
“I told him, ‘Hey, stay up here for a minute. I want to talk to you.’ And I just told him that he did a great job and this was how we had planned it out….But he had a great outing.”
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.