Matt Jones is the editor of the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
Gaeckle's good start a highlight on sloppy day
Arkansas pitcher Gabe Gaeckle throws during a scrimmage Monday, Oct. 16, 2023, in Fayetteville. (Photo by Walt Beazley/Arkansas Athletics)
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas freshman right-hander Gabe Gaeckle pitched three strong innings to lead his team to a good start Monday in Game 1 of the Razorbacks’ Fall World Series at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Pitching for the White team, Gaeckle struck out four in two innings before allowing a run in the third. Jack Wagner’s two-out single scored Ryder Helfrick from second base. Wagner was thrown out when shortstop Jared Sprague-Lott cut off a throw from the outfield and threw to second baseman Nolan Souza.
Gaeckle threw 55 pitches. He allowed 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 4.
“He was good today,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “It’s the end of the fall and velocities are down a little bit….We’ve all seen him be up to 96, 97, 98 this fall. Today it was lower 90s, but a lot of strikes.”
It was arguably the best pitching performance on a day Arkansas’ hurlers struggled to find the plate. Six pitchers, including Gaeckle, combined to walk 16 as the Cardinal and White teams finished tied 9-9 in 7 innings.
Game 2 will be played Tuesday at noon. It will be the last game of the Fall World Series. The if-necessary Game 3 has been canceled.
"We won’t have any pitching left because we’re not pitching some of our guys," Van Horn said.
OFFICIAL STATS: Fall World Series - Game 1.pdf
The Razorbacks have several pitchers who are sitting out the Fall World Series for various reasons. Among those who won’t throw are potential 2024 weekend starters Hagen Smith, Brady Tygart and Mason Molina.
Freshmen Gaeckle and left-hander Hunter Dietz started Game 1. Dietz allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on 1 hit and 4 walks in 1 1/3 innings.
All of the runs against Dietz came during the White team’s four-run second. Souza had an RBI single and scored on Will Edmuson’s fielder’s choice RBI. Ben McLaughlin added a two-run double to center field.
“He had given up one hit all fall going into today,” Van Horn said of Dietz. “He’s thrown nothing but strikes, but we’ve only thrown him maybe five or six times, and this is the second time he’s gone two innings.”
The game got sloppy in the late innings with high walk totals. Will McEntire (3), Stone Hewlett (2) and Cooper Dossett (4) each had multiple walks pitching an inning or less.
Adding to the sloppiness was six errors — three by each team. Sprague-Lott committed two errors behind McEntire during a four-run fourth inning for the Cardinal team. Only one run was earned.
“Today was about as ugly as I’ve ever seen,” said Van Horn, who noted windy conditions contributed to fielding woes. “I was sitting over here with a scout and the first ball went up and I said, ‘Watch this. This is big trouble,’ because I knew where the wind was blowing.”
Van Horn said the team has played solid defensively overall this fall.
“The games have been tight — 4-3, 5-4 — and most of our games this fall have been six innings, seven innings,” Van Horn said.
“I don’t know why today it got crazy, but it did.”
Arkansas right-hander Gage Wood bounced back from a two-run sixth with a quick seventh inning to close the day. Wood struck out Ty Waid, Edmusnon and Ben McLaughlin in 12 pitches.
“That last inning when I finally got [my fastball] a little bit higher up in the zone, I was getting that swing and miss,” said Wood, who struck out 4 and allowed 2 runs and 4 hits in 2 innings.
Wagner, who homered to left field against Christian Foutch was a standout at the plate Monday. The transfer from Tarleton State went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI.
Other offensive standouts included catchers Helfrick (playing second base), who went 2 for 4 with 2 runs and 3 RBI, and Parker Rowland who went 2 for 3 with 2 runs, including a heads-up score from third on a wild pitch by Wood.
Helfrick, a freshman, has been a tough out during fall ball.
“He’s got a chance to be an every-day player as a freshman for us,” Van Horn said.
Update: Game 1 was originally ruled a suspended game, but was later officially ruled a tie.
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