FAYETTEVILLE — No. 1 Arkansas overcomes sluggish start, bullpen problems, to take a 13-8 win over New Jersey Institute of Technology on Friday afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium in the Fayetteville Regional.
After making the nice grab in center field to end the top half of the inning, Christian Franklin hit a solo shot over the fence in left field to tie the game at 3 in bottom of fourth. Arkansas added six more runs in the inning to take a 9-3 lead. After one out, Charlie Welch singles. Casey Opitz then walked and Jalen Battles was hit by a pitch. Braydon Webb then walked to force in Welch for a 4-3 lead. Matt Goodheart hit a sacrifice fly out to score Opitz for a 5-3 lead. Cayden Wallace then hit a 3-run home run to score Battles and Webb for an 8-3 lead. Cullen Smith followed with a solo shot for Arkansas’ third home run of inning.
NJIT got the game started perfectly for them when leadoff hitter Albert Choi hit an 0-2 pitch from Caleb Bolden over the fence in left field for a 1-0 lead.
The second inning produced another run for NJIT. After getting the first hitter out, Bolden then walked the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters in the batting order. That brought Dave Van Horn out to pull Bolden and put Connor Noland into pitch. After Noland got a groundout, the next hitter, Julio Marcano, hit a grounder that went under Battles’ glove at shortstop scoring Kevin Blum for a 2-0 lead.
NJIT added another run in the top of the third. A walk, single and then throwing error by Noland loaded the bases with no outs. Ryan Costeiu came into pitch. After a strikeout, Costeiu walked Blum to force in Matt Cocciadiferr, who had reached on the single, for a 3-0 lead. A strikeout and then foul out got the Hogs out of the inning as the bases were left full.
After a very slow start at the plate, Battles got hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the third. Then Webb hit a full-count pitch over the fence in left field to pull the Hogs to within 3-2.
A great catch by Franklin in center field saved two runs in the top of the fourth. Kevin Kopps came in with two outs, two on in the top of the fourth. Kopps got Franzoni to hit the fly ball and it took a diving catch by Franklin to save more runs.
In the bottom of the fifth, Battles hit a solo shot off Jared Kacso, NJIT’s third pitcher of the day, for a 10-3 lead.
NJIT added two runs in the top of the seventh to pull within 10-5.
In the bottom of the seventh, Opitz singled then Battles and Webb walked. Jacob Nesbit, who came into the game the previous inning, delivered with a single to plate both Opitz and Battles for a 12-5 advantage.
NJIT fought back to score three runs in the top of the eighth to pull within 12-8.
In the bottom of the eighth, Franklin reached on an infield hit with one out. Robert Moore then singled to right field to move Franklin to third. A wild pitch allowed Franklin to score for a 13-8 lead. Moore advanced to second.
Bolden worked 1.1 innings, allowed two runs (one earned), a pair of hits, two walks, a strikeout, hit one batter, faced nine batters, 34 pitches and 20 were strikes. Noland worked 0.2 inning. He allowed hit, one run (earned), a walk, faced six hitters, threw 23 pitches and 15 were strikes. Costeiu worked 1.2 innings. He allowed one hit, a walk, hit a batter, struck out three, faced eight hitters, 38 pitches and 24 strikes. Heston Tole worked 0.2 inning. He allowed four hits, two runs (both earned), struck out one, hit a batter, faced six hitters, threw 19 pitches with 11 strikes. Caden Monke worked 0.1 inning, allowed two runs (both earned), a pair of walks, faced three hitters, threw 15 pitches and six were strikes. Kole Ramage worked the final two innings to help the Hogs escape with the win.
Tyler Stafflinger got the start and went 3.1 innings allowing six runs. Jake Rappaport worked 0.2 inning and allowed three runs. Kacso worked 3.2 innings. Aidon Kidd finished the game for the Highlanders.
Kopps (11-0) got the win. Kopps went 2.1 innings, struck out one, faced seven hitters, 24 pitches and 17 were strikes. Stafflinger (5-6) took the loss.
Arkansas will play the Nebraska-Northeastern winner on Saturday night at 8 p.m.