FAYETTEVILLE – A scoreless game after four innings evolved into a 9-8 Texas Tech lead starting the ninth was won, 13-9 by Arkansas’ five ninth-inning runs.
It all concluded after Sunday midnightfrom Saturday’s start of the 6-team 3-day season-opening State Farm College Baseball Showdown at the Major League’s Texas Rangers’ Global Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
Starting an hour and 20 minutes late Saturday night because the first SEC vs. Big 12 games ran long with Mississippi State of the SEC West topping the Texas Longhorns, 8-3 and Ole Miss of the SEC West topping TCU, 7-3, Arkansas’ nationally ranked eighth by D1 Baseball SEC West Razorbacks and the nationally third ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders ran longest. Ballyhooed bullpens of firemen become arson squads until Elijah Trest redeemed in Razorbacks relief after first yielding Braxton Fulford’s seventh-inning 3-run home run putting Arkansas in 9-8 arrears.
Of Arkansas’ 13 runs, only five were knocked in with hits.
“That was one of the craziest games I’ve been in in a while,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. “Both teams really didn’t play very well, didn’t pitch very well. They got a couple big hits, they took advantage of a couple mistakes. We took advantage of a couple mistakes on them. I’m just proud of the way our team just kept fighting and fighting.”
Arkansas left fielder Braydon Webb said of the 4-hours plus rollercoaster leading into Sunday night’s game with Texas; “We had a lot of fight and we never doubted ourselves. We know what we’re capable of and we just believed as a team.”
New transfer shortstop Jalen Battles, 3 for 5 with three RBI including a 2-run double and ninth-inning RBI single, and returning left fielder Webb, after making a key third inning defensive gem, breaking an 0 for 4 with a ninth-inning 2-run single, accounted for Razorbacks runs otherwise scored on a sacrifice fly, base-loaded walk, a balk, and seemingly endless wild pitches.
Starters Zebulon Vermillion for Arkansas and Tech’s Patrick Monteverde matched zeroes for four innings until Cullen Smith’s bases loaded walk vs. Tech’s bullpen in the fifth.
Vermillion was yanked after a leadoff double and walk in the Tech fifth. Lefty reliever Cade Monke proved ineffective. Reliever Kevin Kopps also got scored upon in Tech’s 5-run fifth.
“They’re up 5-1 and we just scored a run,” Van Horn said. “So, you’re thinking, ‘Wow, we haven’t done much. This is going to be tough.”
The Razorbacks rallied with four in the sixth including Battle’s 2-run double, and Robert Moore’s sacrifice fly plus a run-scoring wild pitch.
Tech scored one in its sixth and would have scored more but for some nice relief by lefty newcomer Ryan Costeiu.
Cosieiu’s success didn’t translate to the seventh. He walked the first two batters bringing the ill-fated Trest vs. Fulford 3-run home run matchup. Trest hit a batter then picked him off second preventing a run as Tech doubled but didn’t score.
Van Horn trusted Trest through the eighth and ninth and was rewarded. The right-hander prevailed after singles by Casey Opitz and Greenbrier’s Cayden Wallace ignited the 5-run ninth off losing reliever Andrew Devine.“Very rarely does a reliever get a chance for a little bit of redemption to stay in the game and get them out for the next two innings,” Van Horn said of Trest. “He ended up getting out of the inning and obviously gave us a chance to hang around close and he gets the win personally. Even down the line, we felt like we could come back and win it.”Arkansas was set to play the finishing night games against Texas Sunday and TCU on Monday.