Diamond Hogs Notebook: Smith starts hot at Mississippi State

By: Matt Jones Matt Jones's Twitter account
Published: Friday, May 5, 2023
Arkansas pitcher Hagen Smith throws during a game against Mississippi State on Friday, May 5, 2023, in Starkville, Miss.
( Nathan DeSutter, Arkansas Athletics )
Arkansas pitcher Hagen Smith throws during a game against Mississippi State on Friday, May 5, 2023, in Starkville, Miss.

Both dugouts took notice of Hagen Smith’s start to Arkansas’ 6-2 victory at Mississippi State on Friday. 

Smith was dynamic as he retired the Bulldogs’ first six hitters in 28 pitches. He had three strikeouts in the first two innings. 

“I thought their starter came out as good as anyone we’ve seen all year for the first three innings,” Mississippi State coach Chris Lemonis said. “Then I thought we did a good job wearing him out, getting some walks, some HBPs, and then we got him tired. We had opportunities to drive some runs in, we just need to put the ball in play.”

Smith struggled with command and needed 84 pitches to get through the third, fourth and fifth innings. The sophomore left-hander tied a career high with five walks and also hit two batters. He exited the game at the end of the fifth with a pitch count of 112. 

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn indicated Smith was too amped early in the game, likely a byproduct of him toggling between being a closer some weekends and a starter some others. 

“His stuff was amazing early — almost too good,” Van Horn said. “You could tell he was exerting way too much energy for a starter….It was incredible, but obviously he got a little tired.” 

Despite his struggles, Smith came through in some crucial moments to keep Mississippi State from taking the lead. He stranded six base runners, including a pair in the fourth and fifth innings after the Bulldogs’ first two hitters got on base. 

Mississippi State only scored one run in those two innings to tie the game 2-2. A Brady Slavens home run in the top of the sixth inning put Smith in line for the win, his seventh. 

“He did what he always does and worked out of a couple of jams,” Van Horn said. 

Freshman saves

Gage Wood became the fourth freshman under 21st-year Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn to record five saves. 

Brady Tygart last season and Nolan Sanburn in 2011 had eight saves apiece. DJ Baxendale had seven saves in 2010.

Wood’s total is more impressive when you consider he did not record his first save until an April 2 game against Alabama — more than six weeks into the season. All five of his saves have come against SEC opponents, and he has 3 three-inning saves. 

Wood threw 3 scoreless innings, worked around 3 walks and threw 33 of 58 pitches for strikes at Mississippi State. He lowered his ERA to 2.81 and WHIP to 1.38 in SEC play. 

Wegner’s shadow

How impressive was Jared Wegner’s start to the season? 

Consider that Jace Bohrofen tied Wegner as the team’s leader with 12 home runs when Bohrofen homered in the first inning Friday. Wegner has not batted since April 11 and has not homered since April 2. 

Wegner also still has the team lead with 44 RBI. Kendall Diggs is inching toward the team lead and recorded his 43rd RBI in the ninth inning Friday. 

Wegner, who has a broken left thumb, might return to the lineup for next week’s series against South Carolina. 


• Arkansas’ Dave Van Horn has a 10-1 record in games coached against Mississippi State’s Chris Lemonis. 

• The Razorbacks are guaranteed to have at least a .500 record in SEC play for the sixth consecutive season by winning their 15th conference game. That has only happened one other time in program history, from 2010-15. Arkansas had six total seasons with a .500 or better SEC record between 1992-2009. 

• Arkansas third baseman Caleb Cali went 3 for 4 to raise his SEC-only batting average to .390. 

• Catcher Parker Rowland has thrown out 7 of 22 base runners on stolen-base attempts for an average of 31.8%. The SEC average is 21.6%.

CORRECTION: An earlier stat regarding Parker Rowland's percentage of base runners caught was incorrect.


Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.