Sun May 05, 2024

By Lance Hawley

Sports Razorbacks

Kentucky routs Hogs, but Gage Wood draws high praise from Van Horn

Arkansas Baseball Razorbacks Baseball Gage Wood
Kentucky routs Hogs, but Gage Wood draws high praise from Van Horn
By Otis Kirk

No. 8 Kentucky got nice revenge on No. 2 Arkansas with an 11-3 win on Saturday in Lexington, but thanks to an outstanding pitching performance from Batesville's Gage Wood it wasn't a total loss.

Wood pitched 4.1 innings in relief of starter Brady Tygart, who struggled on the day. Wood allowed just three hits, three run, walked two and struck out six while throwing 79 pitches. Wood got a midweek start against Missouri State and pitched well. Following the game, Dave Van Horn had very high praise for Wood.

"Oh, I mean that was just a huge plus," Van Horn said. "I talked about that after the game. I mean, Gage didn’t just eat up innings, he’s getting ready to take somebody’s job. I loved what I saw. I thought he did a great job pitching Tuesday night.

"I mean really if you look at it he had one pitch going today. The breaking ball wasn’t there for him and he got them out with that fastball. It had good carry on it. They were having trouble hitting it and I thought he threw great. At the same time, he did save our bullpen for tomorrow and we’ve got them lined up. If things don’t go right early we’ll go straight to it."

Van Horn was asked did he mean long reliever, starter or what concerning Wood taking somebody's job?

"He’s already a long reliever and he could close too," Van Horn said. "So he’s going to get his opportunity to start a game. He started on Tuesday and he started for a reason. And today we let him go about 75-80 pitches for a reason. So yeah, we’ll see how this turns out."

Tygart (4-2) started and went three innings and took the loss. He allowed six hits, five runs, walked three and struck out two. Van Horn talked about Tygart's rough outing.

"Probably when you talk about Brady today, the issue would have been he just didn’t throw his fastball for a strike," Van Horn said. "Didn’t throw it where he wanted it and it made it very difficult to pitch, because they just started sitting on off-speed pitches. That’s how that went."

The Hogs took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. With one out, Nolan Souza walked. Catcher Hudson White then sent a Dominic Niman pitch over the fence in left field. White also scored Arkansas' lone run the rest of the game when he walked to start the ninth. He took second and then went to third on a wild pitch. Peyton Stovall then hit a ground out to first that plated White.

But Kentucky scored three runs in the bottom of the second and then four in both the fourth and eighth innings. Kentucky finished with 11 hits to eight for the Razorbacks. Niman (8-3) went 5.1 innings to earn the win. He allowed five hits, two runs, a pair of walks and struck out four.

"Obviously we didn’t play our best game," Van Horn said. "I guess it started in the second inning when we punched in a couple of runs. Then [Kentucky] had a walk, or maybe a hit or two. But we had a chance to get out of the inning and they had a fly ball that just kept drifting. My left fielder [Lovich] drifted and he got tied up in the fence. It ended up costing us three runs unfortunately. Then there in the fourth, it was kind of the same thing. Walks and a couple hits. We just couldn’t get through that inning without cutting that down a little bit."

After missing last week's start due to an injury, lefty Mason Molina (3-1, 3.47) will get the start against Kentucky's Mason Moore (7-1, 5.08) on Sunday at noon. Van Horn was asked what he expects from Molina?

"Yeah, just to go out and attack, make them earn everything, throw his fastball for a strike," Van Horn said. "If he does that, he’ll be in good shape."

Arkansas has been good about bouncing back from losses. Van Horn expecting that on Sunday?

"Well I think we’ll play hard," Van Horn said. "I know that. They show up every day and get after it. Just a matter of if things go our way a little bit, but most of the time you have to make your own breaks. You have to do it and not expect the other team to fall apart. You’ve got to throw strikes, you’ve got to field the ball and you’ve got to take advantage of some pitches that are left in the zone. You’ve got to square them up and hopefully they don’t catch them. We’ll see how it goes."

Arkansas (40-8, 17-6) and Kentucky (34-10, 17-6) are now tied again at top of SEC standings. Sunday's game can be streamed on the SEC Network+ with the first pitch slated for noon.