Nate Allen Sports
FAYETTEVILLE – With a career best pitching effort, Arkansas fourth-year junior right-hander Cody Scroggins of Bentonville Sunday insured Saturday’s end to the Razorbacks’ 7-game winning streak would only briefly interrupt their momentum.
Scroggins struck out a career high 11 against one walk and threw a 2-hitter through a career long six complete innings of Arkansas’ 11-0 victory over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs brightening a cold, gray Sunday afternoon for the bulk of 2,747 attending at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Tech, now 10-5, beat the Razorbacks, 12-7 Saturday after Arkansas led, 5-1. However Arkansas beat Tech, 4-2 Friday night to take the series 2 out of 3 and bring a 12-2 record into a 2-game series at Baum-Walker against Western Illinois at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Scroggins baffled the Bulldogs while Arkansas’ 4-run second inning alone would have sufficed to prevail Sunday. Casey Martin’s tremendous 3-run home run to the last row of seats over left followed Jack Kenley’s RBI single just over the shortstop’s head.
Kenley tripled and scored on Jacob Nesbit’s sacrifice fly in the sixth.
The Razorbacks batted 11 times in the seventh adding six runs on six hits.
Kevin Kopps, Evan Taylor and debuting freshman Elijah Trest threw a shutout inning each after Scroggins finished pitching better than he’s ever pitched.
“Just a tremendous response by our team after a tough loss yesterday, letting a 4-run lead slip away from us in the middle of the game,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said Sunday. “Today it all started with Cody Scroggins. He just had a great game. Six innings, 80-something pitches, threw pretty much nothing but strikes.”
Normally, Van Horn and Scroggins said, the converted pitcher-infielder tries to slide by on his slider but mixed in more fast balls and changeups against Tech.
“A lot of times his slider is his go-to pitch when he’s behind,” Van Horn said.
“But today, the fastball, he was locating it. In and out, all over the place. He could pretty much throw it where he wanted to.”
Same with the changeups, Scroggins said.
“ I’m usually a slider guy,” Scroggins said. “Today I threw my changeup more to keep them not even. When you get an offense that gets you a 4-run lead in the second you just kind of start relaxing and playing catch with the catcher,” So I started spotting up against righties and lefties with the fastball and I worked on my changeup.”
Scroggins excelled Sunday against the same Tech team in 2017 at Ruston, La. in the game he injured his arm requiring Tommy John (elbow) surgery and missing the remainder of that 2017 season then returning last year in relief.
“Obviously you are never going to forget that day it happened, that you just took a big step back in your career,” Scroggins said. “But it really didn’t factor that much into me today.”
Relievers Kevin Kopps, Evan Taylor and freshman Elijah Trest, the latter debuted striking out the side, pitched a shutout inning each relieving Scroggins.
“Just an outstanding job by our pitching staff,” Van Horn said.
Arkansas won 4-2 Friday night with Kopps logging the victory in middle relief and closer Matt Cronin his fourth save preserving Isaiah Campbell’s strong start.
Campbell exited a 2-2 game after six complete striking out 10 against no walks and seven hits.
Arkansas freshman designated hitter Trey Harris broke the 2-2 tie with a seventh-inning 2-run double grounded down the third base line accidentally pointed foul but not signaled foul by third base umpire Joe Brown.
The play went on without interruption as it should have, Van Horn said and Louisiana Tech Coach Lane Burroughs acknowledged, though Burroughs mild protest coming out of the dugout when told to remain there prompted his automatic ejection.
““The ball was fair,” Van Horn said. “The umpire did point the wrong way. But obviously when a ball is foul umpires put their hands up in the air this way. When it’s fair they point which way it’s fair. And that’s a non-reviewable play because it was on the ground before it reached a base.”
Arkansas freshman reliever Jacob Burton was ejected in Saturday’s Tech 3-run ninth inning completing the Bulldogs’ 12-7 victory margin because his pitch hit a Tech batter off his batting helmet though Van Horn said it wasn’t intentional.
Burroughs, a former assistant to Van Horn at Northwestern State for a summer and autumn before Van Horn became head coach at Nebraska, concurred it did not appear intentional,.
Van Horn sounded more apt ordering throwing at his own bullpen Saturday than at the Bulldogs after starter Connor Noland’s 5-1 lead disappeared in Tech’s 5-run sixth.
Previously effective relievers Kole Ramage, charged with Saturday’s loss, and Jacob Kostyshock, couldn’t stop the bleeding.
“I thought Connor Noland pitched fantastic for five-plus innings,” Van Horn said Saturday. “He got a little bit tired there, and we were just trying to get him through the sixth. The disappointing part for me was our bullpen. A couple of veteran guys didn’t come in and shut them down.”
The wind gusted out Saturday marked by five home runs. Tech hit four, two that likely would have cleared under any conditions.
For Arkansas, Zack Plunkett hit a line drive gone with the wind home run Saturday, and Martin hit a 3-run inside the park home run wedged under the left field fence.
Sunday’s wind mainly consisted of Scroggins, Lonoke’s Martin and the Hogs blowing the Bulldogs away.
Nate Allen Sports