FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Fifth-ranked Arkansas had to battle a little more with Texas Wednesday afternoon than it did the night before, but some late-inning strikeouts out of the bullpen and a bases-loaded double play in the fifth helped the Hogs defeat the Longhorns 7-5, completing the two-game sweep over the old Southwest Conference rival.
Arkansas (13-4) led 6-5 when Texas (9-9) loaded the bases in the top of the eighth inning. Sophomore pitcher Matt Cronin, who had come in to pitch in relief earlier, shut the door with a four-pitch strikeout of pinch hitter Michael McCann to leave the bases jammed and preserve the one-run lead.
Cronin ended up earning the save, his second of the year, as hit pitched the final 1.2 innings, giving up just one hit and striking out two of the seven batters he faced.
The Razorbacks had a solid day at the plate, totaling seven runs on 10 hits with seven walks. Freshman Casey Martin hit his team-leading sixth home run in the second inning, part of a 2-for-3 day with three runs scored and two RBIs. It was his third-straight day with a home run and extended his hitting streak to a team-best 10 games.
Freshman Caleb Bolden took the victory after coming in to pitch the second, third, and fourth innings, giving up just one hit with three strikeouts. It was his second victory in four appearances.
Along with Martin, three Razorbacks recorded multi-hit games on Wednesday, as Jordan McFarland and Evan Lee both turned in positive performances. McFarland, especially, continued to stay hot as he hit one of Arkansas’ three doubles in the game, finishing 2-for-3. Since his pinch-hit appearance in the final game against Kent State, McFarland has 10 RBIs and four of his six hits have gone for extra bases.
Lee’s day at the plate was his second multi-hit game of the year. He came through with a double in his first at-bat and then singled home two runs in the fourth as part of Arkansas’ four-run fourth inning.
The fourth inning was when things really got rolling for the Hogs. For the second-straight day, Texas committed two errors in the same inning, allowing Arkansas to not only tie the game, but push ahead to a 5-2 lead.
Arkansas sent six batters to the plate in the fourth before Texas recorded its first out. Martin and Lee both singled home three of the four runs. Then, after a weakly hit ground ball to first by Eric Cole with the bases loaded, the Texas first baseman tried to get the force out at home, but ended up throwing the ball away, allowing Lee to score the fourth run.
The Razorbacks added an insurance run in the eighth when Hunter Wilson sent an RBI single back up the middle to score Martin. Wilson, who got the start at second base on Wednesday is currently hitting .353 with three hits in his last nine at-bats and four RBIs.
Freshman Hunter Milligan started the game for Arkansas but gave up two leadoff walks that eventually scored to put Texas ahead early. After Milligan, Bolden shut down the Texas offense for three innings, giving Arkansas the chance to take the lead by the fifth.
Freshman Kole Ramage had another solid outing out of the bullpen, throwing 2.2 innings with just two hits allowed and three strikeouts. In four of his six outings this year, Ramage has struck out three or more batters, and has only allowed three earned runs over 9.2 innings.
Ramage got some help in the fifth from his defense after he walked the first batter he faced out of the bullpen to load the bases. Texas had already scored once in the inning to cut the Hogs lead to two, but Ramage was able to induce the 6-4-3 double play that ended up being a huge turning point in the game.
“We can put him a little bit of everywhere. Obviously, we’ve been shaking it up a little bit and experimenting. He can hit leadoff, he can hit three-hole, five-hole, anywhere. We just kind of look at the matchups, see who’s starting, and how I want to work the lineup.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on being able to put Casey Martin anywhere in the lineup
“Anytime you get someone like Texas to get to your park, there’s a lot of people who grew up not in love with the Longhorns. We don’t really play anybody with burnt orange and it’s a different color. I think some of our fans when they saw we were playing Texas got excited and we were excited to play Texas, as well. We were excited to play USC a couple weeks ago. My job as a coach is to make sure we show up every day and play hard no matter who we’re playing.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on the importance of playing Texas
“I absolutely love it. Can’t beat it. Texas is Texas. We’re Arkansas. It’s a big rivalry. Everybody loves it. We had a big crowd and we were the better team out there today.” – Hunter Wilson on being Texas in two-straight games
Huge. The bases-loaded double play was basically the biggest play of the game. I told (Jax) Biggers, ‘Let’s go. This is it right here.’ The ball wasn’t hit that hard and it was a tough double play. Luckily, we spun it. It was fun. – Hunter Wilson on the big eighth inning double play
“He’s done a terrific job filling in. It’s been there all along and when he came in, he just started pounding the ball to the right. He’s not that slow either and he has quick hands. He’s just done a great job. I’m proud of what he’s been doing.” – Casey Martin on the impact Jordan McFarland has had over the last three games
Arkansas opens up SEC play this weekend at Baum Stadium with a three-game series against No. 4 Kentucky starting on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the two teams will play game two at 2 p.m., followed by the finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. All games will be televised in their entirety on SEC Network+.
Friday night’s game will also be part of the SEC Network’s “Bases Loaded” coverage, where the network will whip around to all seven conference games that are occurring Friday night.
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