FAYETTEVILLE – Donning a glove apparently helped Matt Goodheart’s bat.
Arkansas’ Preseason All-SEC first-team designated hitter unable to play the field because of throwing arm injuries, tested playing first base Wednesday afternoon and led the Razorbacks’ 9-4 victory over the University Memphis Tigers at Baum-Walker Stadium.
The senior from Magnolia went 4 for 5, including a monstrous home run and two RBI as the Razorbacks, 14-1 victors Tuesday night, completed a 2-game nonconference sweep over the 9-10 Tigers of the American Athletic Conference.
Arkansas, ranked No. 1 by Baseball American and variously No. 2 or No. 3 in other polls takes, 16-3 and 2-1 overall and SEC records into a 3-game SEC series Friday through Sunday at Mississippi State.
“I obviously felt pretty good,” Goodheart said postgame Wednesday. “Hopefully today kick-started a streak and maybe we’ll keep it going this weekend.”
Kind of a morale boost for the former outfielder to be afield again at first which generally has the fewest throws for his mending arm?
“I feel like it went pretty good,” Goodheart said. “I didn’t have a lot that really tested me but at the same time it felt comfortable over there. I’ve been working over there for awhile now and I’m just happy to be back.”
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn was happy to see Goodheart hitting like his 2019 College World Series team form.
“Matt a great day, made some good plays, hit the ball really well and it’s really good to see,” Van Horn said. “Just a good two-game sweep for us. A lot of times when you have a couple of games like this pinched in-between two conference series it can get a little bit crazy. Credit our guys for showing up both days, playing hard and doing a nice job of finding a way to put together some good innings.”
Outfielders Zack Gregory, 2 for 3 with a home run and three RBI Wednesday, Braydon Webb, a home run four walks and a hit by pitch in six plate appearances Tuesday night and working three walks and scoring three runs with an official 1 for 3 Wednesday, both were among Arkansas’ Wednesday highlights.
Freshman pitcher Miller Pleimann of Fayetteville got to start his first-ever Razorbacks game. He trailed 2-0 pitching into the third but Arkansas led, 3-2 after the third on Ethan Bates’ 2-run single and Gregory’s sacrifice fly.
“I was just trying to see a pitch over the zone that I could put some barrel and try and drive it to the outfield and try to score a run for the team,” Gregory said. “Luckily he threw one over the plate and we did just that.”
Van Horn said, “I know when they got that second run, made it 2-0, then we came up and scored three, that really changed the momentum.”
Caden Monke, the winner in relief, pitched 2 and 2-3 scoreless innings, and Kole Ramage shrugged off being greeted by Ben Brooks’ first pitch leading off the seventh to record a three-inning save.
“I thought today Ramage came in and settled some things down,” Van Horn said. “Monke came in and had a nice outing. You know, Pleimann gave us I some quick outs early but couldn’t find the strike zone enough.”
Pleimann walked three but for his debut was encouraging.
“The last couple of weeks he’s thrown some good bullpens,” Van Horn said. “I’m sure he might get out on the mound another time this season.”