FAYETTEVILLE — No. 1 Arkansas defeated Murray State 7-6 on Friday to remain perfect after eight games.
The win was the first of a three-game series in Baum-Walker Stadium this weekend. Robert Moore was the hero for the day. He hit a two-run home run, his second in three innings, in the bottom of the eighth to put the Hogs ahead for good by the final margin of victory. Zack Gregory had pinch hit for Braydon Webb to start the eighth inning and walked. He was on for Moore’s heroics. Moore was obviously excited following the game.
“Our pitchers always give us a chance to win,” Moore said. “Luckily we were able to scrap across some runs. I’m really good when I try to hit a ball really hard up the middle. We are always calm. We believe if we hadn’t scored in the eighth, we would have in the ninth. Most everyone has been here and it’s not our first rodeo.”
Jaxon Wiggins pitched a perfect ninth to get the save. He got a flyout and then fanned the next two hitters. Kevin Kopps picked up the win for Arkansas. Alec Whaley took the loss.
The Racers got onto the scoreboard first in the top of the third. Catcher Tanner Booth led off the inning with a double off Peyton Pallette. He scored on a two-out single to center field by left fielder Ryan Perkins.
The Razorbacks answered that with three of their own in the bottom of the third. Moore and Christian Franklin led off the inning with back-to-back walks. Matt Goodheart then singled to right field to load the bases. Cayden Wallace flied out to right field, but all three runners advanced one base with Moore scoring. Casey Opitz plated both when he tripled to give the Hogs a 3-1 lead.
The Racers scored another run in the top of the fourth, but then Pallette got of the inning with the Razorbacks still up 3-2.
Pallette went four innings before being replaced by Connor Noland to start the top of the fifth. Pallette allowed four hits, two runs (both earned), walked three, struck out 10, faced 20 batters and had a pitch count of 88 with 58 being strikes.
In the top of the fifth, Noland got the first hitter out. Then Jordan Cozart singled to right field. His single was followed by a Brock Anderson home run over the fence in right field to give the Racers a 4-3 lead. Noland then walked the next hitter and the Hogs brought in Zack Morris to pitch with one out and one on. Noland pitched to four hitters, gave up two hits and three runs as well as the one walk. Morris promptly surrendered a two-run home run to Trey Woolsey with the runner on base, Brennan McCullough’s run being credited back to Noland. Murray State now held a 6-3 lead with just one out in top of fifth.
Patrick Wicklander entered the game for Arkansas to start the sixth inning and Hogs trailing by three runs after going down in order in the fifth. Wicklander retired the side in order in the seventh. Ryan Costeiu replaced Wicklander to start the eighth after the lefty gave the Hogs two outstanding innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, Moore hit a two-run shot over the fence with Jalen Battles on base to pull the Hogs within one, 6-5.
Arkansas (8-0) and Murray State (5-4) will return to the field for a 1 p.m. game on Saturday and same time on Sunday.