FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Redshirt senior Carson Shaddy drove in four runs and junior Jax Biggers tallied three hits Saturday evening to lead No. 5 national seed Arkansas Razorbacks to a 9-3 win over South Carolina in game one of the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional.
With the victory, the Razorbacks take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series with game two scheduled for Sunday at 2 p.m. (CT) on ESPN. A win on Sunday would give Arkansas its ninth trip to the College World Series in program history.
Saturday’s game was played in front of 11,722 fans, the third-largest attendance mark ever recorded at Baum Stadium. The Razorbacks improve to 43-18 overall and 34-4 on their home field. Junior Blaine Knight turned in a quality start, moving to 12-0 with Saturday’s outing, while fellow junior Barrett Loseke struck out four Gamecocks in a three-inning save, his third save of the year.
The Big Inning
With the Razorbacks nursing a one-run advantage and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, Shaddy delivered a bases-clearing double to left center to push Arkansas to a 7-3 lead. Freshman Casey Martin led things off with a double down the left-field line and after a pair of one-out walks, the bases were juiced. Senior Jared Gates added a sacrifice fly to score Shaddy later in the inning to cap the Razorbacks’ four-run frame.
Freshman duo Casey Martin and Heston Kjerstad both had two-hit games on Saturday, continuing their strong 2018 seasons, but Jax Biggers led all hitters with a 3-for-4 day at the plate. All three of his hits were singles and he drove in his 23rd RBI of the season in the sixth inning to tie the game at 3-3.
As for Martin and Kjerstad, the two Hogs have combined for 12 hits in the NCAA Tournament with Kjerstad leading the team with seven after four games. Kjerstad upped his average to .346 after the two-hit night, which still leads the team, and he is second with 23 multi-hit games.
Blaine continued his dominant junior campaign, remaining undefeated (12-0) after a six-inning outing with only three earned runs allowed and four strikeouts. Knight did have to labor in the early innings, but settled down to give up only three hits in his final four innings.
Junior Barrett Loseke made his first appearance of the NCAA Tournament a strong one as he closed out the final three inning with no-hit ball and only one baserunner via walk. Loseke struck out three of the final five batters and only allowed three earned runs in his last 24.1 innings dating back to April 24.
Postseason vs South Carolina…
Including its May 23 outing against the Gamecocks in the SEC Tournament, Arkansas has now pounded out 21 hits and 22 runs against South Carolina in two meeting this postseason. The Razorbacks posted a 13-8 win in Hoover last month.
From The Head Coach
“I think most teams that are pretty offensive, when they get a roll a little bit, they can put up some runs real quick. You walk us and you hit us and you gave up a single to us, a lot of times this year we hit a ball out of the park. This is two games in a row that we’ve won that we haven’t hit a home run which is a good thing. You have to be able to win a game without hitting a home run every now and again. Just a credit to the depth of our lineup. Kind of like Jax Biggers said, once we get it going, it builds some confidence and it bothers the other teams’ pitchers when they feel like we’re putting a little heat on them. We’ve got a good offensive team.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on his team’s big inning
From The Players
“I didn’t really try and put too much pressure on myself. There was a guy behind me that was saying they had no respect for you. I hit a fastball in. His fastball takes off when it’s on the outside corner. I was just telling myself not to let him sneak one by you on the outside corner, work out to in. He threw me a fastball in. I wasn’t trying to do too much, I was just trying to put the bat on the ball. We had less than two outs. I was just trying to put the ball in play, hopefully to the outfield.” – Carson Shaddy on his bases-clearing double in the seventh
“The team and this lineup is really deep. When one guy gets going, it transitions to the other guy. The phrase of hitting is contagious really is true. When one guy gets a hit it builds your confidence and the pitcher kind of sits on it and you can take off on a team real quick.” – Jax Biggers on the strong lineup and depth for Arkansas
NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional | Tournament Central
Arkansas leads 1-0
Game 1: Arkansas 9, South Carolina 3 | Box Score
Game 2: Arkansas vs South Carolina (H) – 2 p.m.
Game 3 (if necessary): Arkansas (H) vs South Carolina – 6 p.m.
For more information on Razorback Baseball, follow @RazorbackBSB on Twitter.