FAYETTEVILLE — Brady Slavens had a big night for Arkansas on Sunday night helping them beat Texas 4-0 in the State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington.
Slavens knocked in all four runs for the Hogs including a three-run blast over the right-center field fence in the bottom of sixth that provided the final scoring in the game. He also had an RBI single in the fourth that gave the Razorbacks a 1-0 lead. Following the game, Slavens talked about his two hits.
“The first at bat, the single, the pitcher left a slider up,” Slavens said. “Put a good swing on it. Got it through the hole. I know early on a lot of guys were hitting it hard right at people and not finding the holes, so I’m glad that got through. Then not missing a fastball when they give you one on the homerun.”
This was just Slavens’ second game at Arkansas. How much boost in confidence you get from a game like this so early on?
“Yeah, it’s big,” Slavens said. “Get in a groove. Baseball is all about being comfortable and getting in a groove. It definitely helps. Definitely a good mind-booster.”
Slavens started his career at Wichita State and then transferred to Johnson County Community College in Overland Park (Kan.) for the 2020 season. He was named the National Player of the Year by JUCO Baseball Blog last season. Though he played in 46 games at Wichita State in 2019 with 38 starts, the transition to SEC has been different.
“It’s a lot,” Slavens said. “It’s a lot more difficult here. You really get used to it, and if you don’t you get left behind. Really have to learn how to hit against these SEC type of arms. Everybody is good that you’re going to face, so you’ve got to learn and learn quickly.”
Dave Van Horn is pleased to have Slavens regardless of any needed adjustment.
“Well obviously, we’ve seen a lot of good things from him since he arrived on campus in the fall,” Van Horn said. “He’s had his ups and downs like everybody did. A lot of guys didn’t play a lot of ball. He had the opportunity to play a little bit of summer ball out east. He came in and was trying to earn a job, whether it was at third or second or first or outfield or whatever. He probably didn’t know what to think a little bit, but always swings the bat well. He competes and he doesn’t get cheated if he gets a good pitch. That’s what you saw tonight. He got him a good pitch and didn’t get cheated and hit it about as hard as you can hit it.”
Van Horn talked about the two big at bats for Slavens Sunday night.
“Well, Brady, I think when we scored in the fourth, that whole inning started with two outs,” Van Horn said. “With a walk and a base hit. I don’t remember exactly. Then Slavens hit one through that 4-3 hole.
“The home run that kind of broke the game open, the three-run homer, again with two outs, the pitcher had just gotten a big out and then Slavens took the first pitch, either a change-up or a cutter, which was just a little low. It was good to see him take that pitch. Then he tried to sneak a fastball by him and he got every bit of it.”
Matt Goodheart isn’t with the team in Arlington due to some health issues. Slavens, Goodheart and Cullen Smith were slated to swap around between first base and designated hitter. Without Goodheart, Smith is handling first base and Slavens is the designated hitter.
“I love Goodheart,” Slavens said. “He was supposed to be my roommate here. Ever since I got here, he’s kind of taken me under his wing. He’s been the guy that’s been there for me. It was tough seeing that he wasn’t going to be able to come, but I hope he gets back soon and better.”
The games have been played at Globe Life Park home of the Texas Rangers. Slavens admits the atmosphere is amazing.
“It’s been crazy,” Slavens said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never been to Omaha, but I’m assuming this is kind of how Omaha feels playing in front of 15,000. I think it’s probably more, too. The lights are on. It’s awesome. You just can’t describe the feel.”
While his hitting was huge on Sunday night, the pitching from Peyton Pallette, Caden Monke and Caleb Bolden was equally outstanding.
“Our pitching was great tonight,” Slavens said. “I think that shows really what our pitching staff is capable of. Pallette threw amazing. Monke threw amazing. Bolden at the end was unbelievable. He’s been good ever since I got here, so that’s not really a surprise to me.”
How much have you faced Pallette in practices?
“I’ve faced him quite a bit,” Slavens said. “He throws hard. In the fall, he would go one or two innings, so his velocity is up, not down. He’s got a really good breaking ball, and he’s developed a changeup as of late. He’s not fun to hit against. He’s a really good pitcher.”
Texas coach David Pierce also was complimentary of Slavens’ clutch performance.
“They got a couple of clutch hits and we didn’t and that is kind of the way the game went,” Pierce said.
Slavens and the Hogs will face TCU tonight with the game slated to start at 6 p.m.