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.
Diggs walks off Aggies, Hogs win opener at SEC Tournament
Arkansas designated hitter Kendall Diggs hits a game-winning home run against Texas A&M on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala.
Arkansas designated hitter Kendall Diggs hit a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the 11th inning and gave the second-seeded Razorbacks a 6-5 victory over 10th-seeded Texas A&M on Wednesday at the SEC Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Ala.
Diggs’ homer to right-center field came on the fourth pitch he saw from Texas A&M right-hander Ty Sexton, a 2-1 fastball. It was Diggs' 11th home run and team-leading 57th RBI.
"I knew he was going to bring it to me there, knowing 2-1 count," Diggs told SEC Network. "He doesn’t want to get that lead-off runner on, so I just put a good swing on it and it worked out well."
It was Diggs’ second walk-off hit in the 11th inning of a game this season. He doubled to beat Illinois State 10-9 on March 1.
Arkansas (40-15) advanced to play third-seeded LSU on Thursday in a non-elimination game at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The game is scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m., but the start time could be delayed due to two other games that are scheduled to be played on the same field earlier in the day.
LSU (43-13) defeated South Carolina 10-3 on Wednesday at the tournament. The Tigers won two of three games against the Razorbacks in Baton Rouge, La., on March 24-25.
Texas A&M (33-24) sent the game to extra innings with a solo home run by Austin Bost in the top of the ninth inning. The home run was the 19th of the season against Arkansas right-hander Will McEntire and tied the game 5-5.
The Razorbacks failed to score after they put runners at second and third base with one out in the 10th inning. Pinch runner Hunter Grimes was thrown out at home plate by Texas A&M pitcher Brandyn Garcia trying to score on a bunt by Parker Rowland, and Tavian Josenberger grounded out to second base to strand runners at the corners.
Arkansas went ahead 5-4 in the seventh inning on a one-out grand slam by Jared Wegner against Garcia. The shot to left field was Wegner’s 13th home run, but first since April 2. He returned to the lineup last week after missing more than a month with a broken thumb.
Texas A&M led 4-0 when Ryan Targac homered to left-center field against Arkansas left-handed reliever Zack Morris in the fourth inning. The Aggies scored three runs after right-hander Cody Adcock loaded the bases with no outs in the third.
The Razorbacks scored their first run in the fourth inning when Josenberger flied out to scored Harold Coll from third base. Arkansas struggled with runners on base. The Razorbacks were 3 for 19 with base runners and 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
"We didn’t have a great day at the plate, we fielded what needed to field, threw strikes," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn told SEC Network. "I was just hoping we could put together one inning."
Arkansas out-hit Texas A&M 8-7, but stranded 11 base runners.
The seventh-inning rally began with a walk by Rowland. Diggs reached on a one-out error by Texas A&M shortstop Hunter Haas and Jace Bohrofen walked to bring Wegner to the plate.
Wegner hit Arkansas’ fifth grand slam of the season. It was the first grand slam at the SEC Tournament since 2018.
"Early on I was getting blown up by the fastball," Wegner told SEC Network. "I ended up getting one and kind of selling out to it and getting all of it, that’s for sure."
Morris allowed 1 run, 3 hits and 1 walk, and struck out 5 during his 5-inning relief outing. He threw 61 of 85 pitches for strikes.
Adcock pitched two quick innings before he failed to record an out in the third. He allowed 3 runs, 2 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 1.
McEntire pitched the final four innings for the Razorbacks. He allowed 1 run, 2 hits and 1 walk, and struck out 3.
Texas A&M right-hander Nathan Dettmer pitched 2 1/3 innings without allowing a run, but was wild which led to a third-inning pitching change. Left-hander Shane Sdao shut down the Razorbacks for most of four innings, but walked Rowland to start the rally in the seventh.
Texas A&M will play South Carolina in an elimination game Thursday morning. The winner of that game will play the Arkansas-LSU loser in an elimination game Friday.
The winner of Thursday’s game between Arkansas and LSU will advance to the tournament semifinals Saturday.
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