Thu June 13, 2024

By Lance Hawley

Sports Razorbacks

Smith Named Perfect Game Pitcher of the Year; Gaeckle Earns Second Freshman All-America Honor

Hagen Smith Arkansas Baseball Perfect Game Pitcher Of The Year
Smith Named Perfect Game Pitcher of the Year; Gaeckle Earns Second Freshman All-America Honor
Oliver Grigg

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas ace Hagen Smith has been named the Perfect Game Pitcher of the Year.


Smith, who also earned first-team All-America praise from Perfect Game, made his case as the best pitcher in all of college baseball, completing the 2024 campaign with a 9-2 record, 2.04 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 84.0 innings over 16 starts. The junior left-hander, named the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year after going 7-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 60.0 innings over 10 SEC starts on the mound, led the country with an NCAA-record 17.3 strikeouts per nine innings on the season and finished ranked first nationally in hits allowed per nine innings (4.4), second in strikeouts (161), fourth in ERA (2.04) and seventh in WHIP (0.89).


The Bullard, Texas, native posted a team-leading 11 quality starts and logged a program-record 11 double-digit strikeout games on the year, becoming the program’s all-time career strikeout king and single-season strikeout leader during his historic 2024 campaign. Smith, who raised his career strikeout total to 360, overtook Razorback great Nick Schmidt (345) for sole possession of Arkansas’ career strikeout mark in addition to surpassing Razorback great David Walling’s single-season strikeout record of 155 set in 1999 to move atop the program’s single-season strikeout leaderboard (161).


In one of the greatest pitching performances in program history, Smith tied Arkansas’ single-game record with his 17-strikeout gem on 78 pitches over six shutout innings against Oregon State on Feb. 23 in the Kubota College Baseball Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Smith matched Razorback great Jess Todd’s single-game strikeout record (17), doing so in 40 fewer pitches than Todd threw against South Carolina on May 24, 2007, in the SEC Tournament.


Smith, who is a finalist for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award, Dick Howser Trophy and National Pitcher of the Year Award, was previously named a first-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. He is sixth two-time All-American in program history and the fourth Arkansas pitcher to garner All-America recognition in multiple seasons, joining Phillip Stidham (1990-91), David Walling (1998-99) and Nick Schmidt (2006-07).


Gabe Gaeckle, meanwhile, earned his second Freshman All-America honor, picking up first-team praise as a relief pitcher from Perfect Game. The right-hander from Aptos, Calif., who was also named a first-team Freshman All-American by the NCBWA, emerged as the Hogs’ most dependable bullpen arm during the 2024 campaign, going 3-3 with a team-leading seven saves, including six multi-inning saves, with a 2.32 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 42.2 innings over 22 relief outings.


Gaeckle, who became the fifth Arkansas freshman pitcher since 2003, Dave Van Horn’s first year as head coach, to record five or more saves in a season, was even more dominant in conference play, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.59 ERA, 26 strikeouts and three saves in 22.2 innings over 12 appearances to earn a spot on the Freshman All-SEC Team.