FAYETTEVILLE — No. 8 Arkansas used the long ball to gain a run-rule victory over Wright State 12-2 on Friday afternoon in Baum-Walker Stadium.
The Razorbacks got the easy victory despite not one of starter Hagen Smith’s best games. Smith worked 4.2 innings to get the win to remain perfect in two decisions, but he walked five and threw 105 pitches before giving way to Dylan Carter. Dave Van Horn talked about Smith’s game afterward.
“Hagen, and he’ll tell you, his command wasn’t there,” Van Horn said. “Blame it on the weather or whatever. He did just enough to get us where we needed to be and that was the fifth inning. I thought Dylan Carter came in and did a really nice job for us again. You know he was maxed out on pitches. We just about got him the hitter previously and let him finish the inning and that was really big to see because that was one of their better hitters. Then (Parker) Coil came in and was throwing the ball 86 mph and then I think after he relaxed a little I think he started throwing the ball 88-89. Did a nice job for us.”
Carter worked 2.1 innings allowing four hits, but just one run. He had three strikeouts and only walked one hitter. Coil worked one inning and gave up two hits, but didn’t allow any runs. Smith failed to blame the weather for his performance.
“I don’t think the weather had an effect on anything,” Smith said. “I think it was on me. I had my mechanics off a little bit. Kind of got in bad counts at times. Had to battle back. Threw a lot of pitches.”
On the other hand, the bats were big for the Razorbacks. Jared Wegner hit a solo walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth to end the game. It was Arkansas’ fourth home run of the game.
“I thought we did a good job up and down the lineup for the most part of creating some innings obviously with some walks,” Van Horn said. “We hit some balls hard early that were at them. We put together a couple of good innings there. The third inning was the inning I think we punched in maybe all the runs with two outs. So far this season we have a little knack of scoring with two outs, even to end the game.”
The Razorbacks did plate four runs in the bottom of the third to take a 5-0 lead. As Van Horn noted all the runs came with two outs. Harold Coll delivered a one-out single. Jace Bohrofen then was hit by a pitch with two outs. Wegner walked to load the bases. Brady Slavens then hit a three-run shot over the fence in right field to also allow both Coll and Bohrofen to score. Peyton Stovall followed with a shot over the fence in right field for back-to-back home runs.
Caleb Cali got the scoring started in the bottom of the second with a solo shot over the fence in center field. Van Horn praised Slavens for his two hits and four RBI day. He also is glad to see Cali hitting better since the Hogs have been searching for a consistent bat at third base.
“Slavens had a couple of really big at-bats,” Van Horn said. “Yeah, the home run was big, but that was also a big at-bat with two outs when he singled to right field after fouling off a lot of pitches. I guess he had four RBI. So the four and five holes drove in 8 runs, that’s a great deal there.
“Cali, he’s back, his confidence is back. Even … he lined out to right-center field after hitting the home run. You know he’s doing what we’ve seen him do with the bat. It sure is nice having the lineup the way it’s going. I can leave him down there. If I need to bring him up and break up a couple of left-handed hitters, I can do that as well. It’s just nice to have a bat that can drive the ball.”
Stovall was moved from second in the order to fifth with Bohrofen switching with him and now batting second. Stovall had three hits and also knocked in four runs Friday.
“Should I switch them back or what do you think?,” Van Horn joked to a reporter. “I’m thinking the same thing you are. Bohrofen has been very good in the 5-hole and Stovall’s been great. So maybe I move Kendall to the 2-hole or maybe I do something else. I don’t know. I’m probably going to leave Peyton there.
“We’ll see. They’re throwing a lefty at us tomorrow. Might make a change or two. We haven’t seen a lefty starter since Game 1 of the season. But yeah, Jace can hit lefties, he can hit in the 2-hole, it’s just another place in the order. It’d be nice if he’d put together a few more good at bats. It might solidify that lineup a little bit.”
Stovall credited his injured thumb feeling better more than moving down in the batting order for his success.
“I think my thumb’s finally starting to not bother me anymore, per se,” Stovall said. “I think that helps out a lot. Just kind of getting out of rhythm and just missing that one game. Just being out of a routine just like that, just missing that game kind of gets your mind spinning a little bit. Wanting to come back. Not wanting to miss a game, stuff like that. You know, I had some success at the plate. Me and Brady both, we were fortunate enough to have some big hits, to get some RBIs in. Yeah, you know, we’ve just got to keep building on it and looking forward to playing them again tomorrow.”
John Bolton is the regular shortstop and he didn’t play on Friday. Van Horn said he wasn’t injured only resting and he will be back on Saturday. Coll filled in for Bolton on Friday.
“I thought he had a nice day,” Van Horn said. “He got that first rally going with that base hit — I think that was in the third, led off the third. It was a single with two strikes and laid off a couple of borderline breaking balls and then got him a pitch he could handle and he singles. He made a couple of nice plays. The key for me when you play in the infield, just make the routine play and that’s what he did.”
Closer Brady Tygart left the Illinois State game with an injury. Van Horn talked about it for the first time following Friday’s game.
“Well, I think we’ve had a couple of doctors look at him, and I think he’s had an MRI, and that’s what the take is now,” Van Horn said. “He’s got a sprain, which is good news for now. I think he’s gonna get looked at one more time and then it’ll be 100%, but that’s what the doctors feel, that’s what he felt, and if that’s the case, then he’ll be out probably five or six weeks at least.”
Arkansas (7-2) and Wright State (2-6) will play the second game of the series on Saturday at 3 p.m. The matchup on the mound will be Wright State LHP Sebastian Gongora (1-0, 1.80 ERA) against Arkansas RHP Will McEntire (1-0, 8.10 ERA).