FAYETTEVILLE – Jumped started by Cayden Wallace’s first-inning home run against the wind starting a 4-0 lead after three innings, and bolstered by a bullpen blanking the final 4 1-3 innings, the customarily coming from behind University of Arkansas Razorbacks start to finish beat the University of Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans, 7-2 Tuesday night at Baum-Walker Stadium.
The 2-game nonconference set between Coach Dave Van Horn’s nationally No. 2 SEC Razorbacks, 23-4, and Coach Chris Curry’s Sun Belt Conference Trojans, 12-12, concludes at 4 p.m. today.
Both teams saved their frontline pitching with the Razorbacks coming off winning a SEC West series 2 of 3 over Auburn at Baum-Walker and visiting Ole Miss in a Friday through Sunday SEC West 3-game series while the Trojans, swept last weekend by Sun Belt rival Arkansas State, host South Alabama in a Friday through Sunday 3-game Sun Belt series.
Freshman 3-hole hitter Wallace of Greenbrier defied the stiff wind homering with two out in the first over left against losing Trojans left-handed starter Sawyer Smallwood.
“When he hit it I was a little bit amazed that he fought through that wind,” Van Horn said. “He hit it so hard it was kind of hooking and the wind didn’t hurt it quite as much. The wind knocked it down a little bit but it just couldn’t get it down. He put a really good swing on that pitch.”
Arkansas added two in the second on Jalen Battles’ RBI single and Robert Moore’s sacrifice fly.
Five Trojans relievers followed Smallwood from the third inning on.
Arkansas scored one in the third Christian Franklin’s RBI double.
The Razorbacks tallied one in the seventh on a wild pitch and added two RBI in the eighth on Jacob Nesbit’s single and Moore’s run-scoring forceout.
Arkansas starter Kole Ramage threw a mostly solid 4 2-3 but couldn’t get the final out in the fifth. and was tagged for John Michael Russ’ 2-run double and with the Hogs only up 5-2 replaced by winning reliever Ryan Costeiu.
“We were hoping he (Ramage) could give us five innings,” Van Horn said. “ If he would have just gotten a quick out there, he probably was going to get to go out for the sixth. That all changed real quick. But overall, he did a nice job for us. Little Rock hung in there with us, but it was good to get out and get that lead.”
The bullpen of Costeiu, a scoreless 1 1-3 innings, lefty Caden Monke, a hitless scoreless two innings with three strikeouts, and Cabot’s Zack Morris, yielding a hit and a walk but a still scoreless ninth, never allowed the Trojans to get closer.
“Costeiu, Monke and Morris came in and did a pretty nice job of finishing that game up for us,” Van Horn said. “Costeiu (inheriting Russ on second and stranding him striking out Noah Dickerson) did a great job. Then Monke had really good stuff and held them down for a couple of innings.”
Caleb Bolden will start Wednesday afternoon for the Hogs, Van Horn said.