Tue March 19, 2024

By Lance Hawley

Hogs Complete Sweep of Tigers
By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE -- No. 1 Arkansas completed a sweep of Missouri with a 9-1 win at Baum-Walker Stadium drawing 30,410 fans to the watch this weekend over the course of three games including 9,867 on Sunday.

The Razorbacks once again got outstanding pitching with starter Mason Molina working 5.1 innings, allowing one hit, no runs, walked three, hit one and fanned 10. Molina (3-0) got the win and then got great support out of the bullpen from Koty Frank, Colin Fisher, Gage Wood and Gabe Gaeckle. Fisher allowed two hits and a home run to Thomas Curry, the Missouri designated hitter, in the top of the seventh. It was the lone run Missouri scored in the three-game series. Frank struck out while Wood walked one and fanned a hitter. Dave Van Horn was once again pleased with the pitching effort he got from his staff.

"Really Molina, his stuff was … He’s hard to hit," Van Horn said. "He throws that carry fastball (rides higher in zone) and he’s got a good changeup. He’s just kind of effectively wild a little bit. Kind of keeps them off balance.

"It was good to see him get at least five innings in. Obviously if he was a little bit more efficient with pitches he probably could have gone seven. But they fouled off a lot of pitches on him, because that fastball is hard to get on top of. Just a really good start game three. We had a chance to sweep the series. It’s hard to be anybody three times in a row."

Missouri Coach Kerrick Jackson talked about his team's bats in the series.

“If you don’t put the ball in play, it is hard to get people on base if they are not walking guys or hitting guys,” Jackson said. “It is one of those deals where none of their starting pitcher showed pin point control. So we did a lot of getting ourselves out this weekend again and again and again.

“They have some good arms, but we didn’t make it tough on them. You saw what they did when our pitchers made mistakes. They didn’t miss. When their pitchers made mistakes, we were passive and missed. So again, we have just got to keep going, get their confidence up and get them consistent in their approach and we’ll have a good result.”

The Razorbacks wasted no time taking the lead in the game. Peyton Stovall singled to start the game then Kendall Diggs doubled to plate Stovall. Ben McLauglin hit a sacrifice fly to score Diggs who had gone to third on a Wehiwa Aloy single for a 2-0 lead.

"Scoring a couple of runs in the the first, that was big for us," Van Horn said. "Started off with Stovall hitting the ball the other way, and then Kendall hits one the other way off the wall and we’ve got a run in.

"Just a really good weekend for us. We pitched extremely well obviously. They scored one run all weekend. We pitched out of a couple of jams."

McLaughlin, Arkansas' first baseman, hit a solo shot in the bottom of the third for a 3-0 advantage. The Hogs added two more runs in the fifth. Ty Wilmsmeyer started the inning off with a single. He scored on a double by Stovall. Stovall advanced to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Aloy, Arkansas' shortstop.

In the top of the sixth, Molina allowed his first hit of the game to Missouri's Jeric Curtis. After Molina retired a hitter, he then walked one and was replaced by Frank, who struck out both hitters he faced.

In the bottom of the sixth, Arkansas added three more runs. Jared Sprague-Lott singled, Hudson Polk struck out, Hudson White was hit by a pitch and then Wilmsmeyer reached on an error on the Missouri shortstop. Sprague-Lott scored on the error. Diggs walked with two outs and the Aloy singled to plate two more runs. Both White and Wilmsmeyer scored on Aloy's single.

Ross Lovich walked to start the bottom of the seventh. Sprague-Lott singled and then with one out White doubled to allow Lovich to score.

Missouri sent four pitchers to the mound including starter Carter Rustad (3-2), who allowed five hits, five runs, walked two and struck out one. Ian Lahse, Nic Smith and Brock Lucas also took the mound for the Tigers. They allowed 10 hits. Missouri is now 9-11 on the season.

Aloy led the Arkansas attack with two hits while knocking in three runs. Stovall and Sprague-Lott each had two hits. McLaughlin, Diggs and White had one hit each as well. McLaughlin plated two runs while Diggs, White and Stovall all got one run across the plate. Van Horn praised Aloy.

"I thought he had a great day at the plate," Van Horn said. "You look at his day, he laid off some pitches and walked, and he was down in the count, like, 1-2 in that situation. A couple of hard hit singles. Sac fly to right after he fought off some pitches. He had two strikes on him with a runner on third and just finally got the ball to the outfield.

"He’s got a knack for driving in runs. Even when it wasn’t going well for him, I left him up there in the order, because that’s what we need him to be. That’s what I feel like he is. Trying to get him going before conference play, and today was really good day for him. He had a good weekend in my opinion."

Arkansas (17-2, 3-0) will head to Auburn (13-6, 0-3) for a three-game series that begins Thursday night at 6 p.m. and televised on the SEC Network. The two teams also play Friday night at 6 p.m. and then Saturday at 2 p.m. Both those games will be televised on the SEC Network+. 

Photos Courtesy of Craven Whitlow CW3 Sports Action