FAYETTEVILLE — Jalen Battles is more known for his glove, but on Sunday he also came up big with the bat.
Battles is a slick-fielding shortstop who along with Robert Moore at second base gives Arkansas one of the best middle infield combinations in college baseball. But on Sunday Battles got two hits in three at bats and drove home three of Arkansas’ five runs as he also hit his first home run in SEC action.
In the bottom of the fifth and the Hogs trailing 3-0, Battles stepped up with no outs and two on base. He delivered a single to right field that plated both Casey Opitz and Matt Goodheart.
Dave Van Horn talked about Battles’ day at the plate and the hit that allowed the Hogs to start gaining some momentum.
“That 2-run single was big because he went the other way,” Van Horn said. “They were playing that shift. That shift had worked for them pretty good for the first couple of games. It really worked for them yesterday. We had a couple of balls through the middle and they are standing right there. Give them, credit on that. But the shift hurt them on that one. It cost them two runs. It cost them one run, anyway. We didn’t score the run but that was a big swing for us.”
In the bottom of the seventh and the score tied at 3, Battles hit an 0-1 pitch over the fence in center field to put the Hogs up by a run to start the inning. The Razorbacks were able to add an insurance run later that inning as well.
And then his home run, that was a big swing,” Van Horn said. “You think about his first at bat, he hit the ball a long way into left-center. Just missed it on a low pitch. He had a really good day at the plate. And obviously he played some solid defense. He’s got some power. I know the wind helped that ball a little bit but he put a good swing on it. He hit it a little bit toward the end of the bat but obviously it carried 400-plus.”
In 43 games, Battles has four home runs, knocked in 32 runs and is hitting .264. He has hit six doubles, been hit by pitches twice, walked 20 times and struck out 45 times in 159 at bats. His fielding percentage is .956 at shortstop.