Arkansas baseball sweeps LSU with 7-5 victory in finale

Arkansas second baseman Peyton Stovall (10) stands over LSU base runner Michael Braswell after recording the final out of a game Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Fayetteville. (Charlie Kaijo/NWA Democrat-Gazette)

FAYETTEVILLE — The No. 1 Arkansas baseball team rallied from a three-run deficit to sweep seventh-ranked LSU on Saturday.

The Razorbacks (23-3, 8-1 SEC) scored three runs in the fourth and sixth innings and won 7-5 in front of an announced attendance of 10,924 at Baum-Walker Stadium. 

Arkansas won its 17th consecutive home game to break the record win streak at the stadium that has been the Razorbacks’ home for 29 seasons. Arkansas’ 1997 team won 16 in a row the year after the stadium opened. 

LSU leadoff hitter Tommy White lined into a game-ending double play one pitch after he disputed a fly ball was a three-run home run against Arkansas reliever Will McEntire. Third-base umpire Javerro January called the ball foul and a replay review upheld the call. 

White lined out to Jared Sprague-Lott at third base and the Tigers' lead runner, Michael Braswell, was thrown out trying to get back to second base. White also hit into double plays in the third and fifth innings.

McEntire stranded the bases loaded in the eighth inning and pitched 1 1/3 innings to earn his third save. McEntire had pitched 2 2/3 innings and struck out 8 during Arkansas' 7-4 victory Thursday. 

“Will, he really wanted to finish the thing up,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “We were hoping we only had to get three outs with him. I guess we had to go four.”

Will Edmunson, who scored the game-winning run in the 10th inning of a 4-3 victory Friday, came home from third base on a Ty Wilmsmeyer dribbler toward LSU reliever Nate Ackenhausen in the sixth inning to give the Razorbacks a 5-4 lead they did not relinquish. 

Edmunson led off with a double, went to third base on a Ryder Helfrick fly out and slid headfirst underneath the tag attempt of LSU catcher Brady Neal. The ruling by home-plate umpire Brandon Cooper was upheld by replay review. 

“It was just one of those plays I was going to take off,” Edmunson said on the Razorback Sports Network postgame show. 

One pitch after the review Arkansas second baseman Peyton Stovall belted a two-run home run 379 feet to right-center field. Stovall, a native of Haughton, La., finished the weekend with three multi-hit games against his home-state team and played stellar defense. 

“He's a great player,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said. “He's one of the best players in the league.” 

Trailing 7-5, LSU loaded the bases against Arkansas freshman left-hander Hunter Dietz on a single, walk and hit batsman in the eighth inning. McEntire came out of the bullpen to strike out Mac Bingham to end the inning. 

Dietz, a top draft prospect out of high school, underwent a procedure to address a stress fracture in his elbow last fall and made his Razorback debut. He threw 11 of 20 pitches for strikes and recorded a pair of outs against the top of the Tigers’ lineup. 

“To have Hunter come in, the first hitter he ever faces in college is Tommy White, who’s one of the best hitters in the country,” Van Horn said. “It was kind of a tough situation and I thought he threw the ball pretty good. I’m excited about getting him back out there, probably next weekend.”

LSU (20-9, 2-7) scored all its runs via four homers. White led off the game with an opposite-field home run to right, Ashton Larson hit a two-run homer to opposite right in the third and Bingham pulled solo shots to left in the fourth and seventh innings. 

Bingham’s first home run put the Tigers ahead 4-1 in the top of the fourth, but the Razorbacks responded with a two-out rally in the bottom of the inning against LSU left-handed starter Gage Jump. Five consecutive batters reached base beginning with Sprague-Lott’s walk. 

“That fourth inning is really tough to swallow because not only had we gotten the lead, we added on,” Johnson said. “And then it's two outs, two strikes, nobody on base, and then it's a tie game. It's almost hard to do. The percentage of getting three runs in an inning where all those are lined up — the probability of that is probably really low.”

Edmunson and Helfrick also singled and scored on RBI hits by Wilmsmeyer and Stovall. That chased Jump, who allowed 4 runs, 7 hits and 2 walks and struck out 3 in 3 2/3 innings. He threw 47 of 77 pitches for strikes. 

“We fought,” Van Horn said. “I was really proud of our offense today, because we’re down 4-1, it’s looking pretty good for them, and then bang, with two outs…a walk, and then four hits in a row.

“It’s hard to get two hits in a row and three is rare, but four is big time. The next thing you know, we had the lead.”

Arkansas shortstop Wehiwa Aloy answered White’s home run with a 380-foot shot to left-center field in the bottom of the first inning that tied the game 1-1. The homer registered an exit velocity of 112 mph. 

Three of LSU’s home runs came against Arkansas starter Brady Tygart who allowed 4 runs and 5 hits and struck out 3 in 4-plus innings. Tygart threw 43 of 68 pitches for strikes and also hit his SEC-leading 10th batter. 

Koty Frank pitched three innings out of the Razorbacks’ bullpen. He worked around an inherited base runner in the fifth inning to preserve a 4-4 tie and allowed Bingham’s second homer that pulled the Tigers within 7-5 in the seventh.

Arkansas swept LSU for the fifth time. The Razorbacks also swept the Tigers in 2001, 2004, 2011 and 2022. All of the series except 2004 were in Fayetteville. 

LSU, last year’s national champion, was swept for the first time since the final regular-season series of 2022 against that year’s national champion, Ole Miss. 

Why Arkansas won

The Razorbacks have shown a resiliency when down this season that is the calling card of a good team. Arkansas answered some big LSU swings with a couple of big innings and got another great performance from its bullpen.

Player of the Game: RHP Koty Frank

The Razorbacks' reliever entered in a 4-4 game in the fifth with an LSU runner on first base and no outs. 

Frank shut down the Tigers for his first two innings as Arkansas built a 7-4 lead. He allowed a solo homer in the seventh but finished with an efficient outing: 3 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 2 strikeouts and 21 of 29 pitches for strikes. 

“Koty Frank came in and did an amazing job and got us out of that fifth inning,” Van Horn said. “He threw four or five pitches, and then got us through a couple more [innings]. He just slowed them down a little bit.”

Poll impact

The Razorbacks will retain and likely strengthen their grip on the top spot in the USA Today coaches poll after a 4-0 week that included a sweep of a ranked team. 

Second-ranked Oregon State, Arkansas' chief challenger in the poll, was swept in a two-game series at Southern Cal that included a 17-4 blowout. 

LSU should finally fall out of the top 10. The Tigers fell from second to fourth following a 2-1 series loss at Mississippi State, and from fourth to seventh when they lost a series 2-1 to Florida last week at home. 

Up next

Arkansas will host Arkansas State on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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Correction: A statistic about the number of times Arkansas has swept LSU was initially incorrect and has been corrected.