Hogs Win in Extra Innings. Face LSU on Thursday
By Otis Kirk
Kendall Diggs hit a walk-off solo home run Wednesday evening in the bottom of the 11th to give Arkansas a 6-5 win over Texas A&M at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala.
It was a day when the Hogs used the long ball to advance against LSU on Thursday in the third game of the day (approximately 4:30 p.m.). Diggs talked about his at bat that ended the game.
“I went in there and wanted to make him come to me,” Diggs said. “He threw a first pitch fastball. The next two were maybe the ball bounced, really good pitches. I knew he was going to bring it to me there. With a 2-1 count he doesn’t want to get that leadoff runner on. So I put a good swing on it and it worked out well.”
In addition to Diggs, Arkansas, while trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh, got a grand slam home run from Jared Wegner to move the Hogs in front 5-4. Diggs talked about the Hogs who just got Wegner and Josenberger back recently continuing to win despite injuries since they don’t have second baseman Peyton Stovall and shortstop John Bolton now. Bolton is slated to return at some point, but Stovall is out for the season. Diggs said they just continue to win.
“Yes, sir, 100 percent,” Diggs said. “All the guys are the most unselfish group I’ve ever been around. We’re playing for each other and like you mentioned the injuries and all that kind of stuff. We’re playing for them. They’d do anything to be out there. We just put them on our back and have fun with it.”
Will McEntire (7-3) pitched the final four innings to earn the win. McEntire only gave up two hits though one of them was a solo shot by Austin Bost in the top of the ninth to tie the game at 5. McEntire, a former standout at Bryant High School, walked one and struck out five. Dave Van Horn praised McEntire and Zack Morris.
“Yeah, just a really good job by our pitching staff today to eat up a lot of innings there,” Van Horn said. “A lot of those guys are bullpen-type guys, and maybe gets us a chance to get back on track with our pitching. Zack Morris was the story, five-plus innings, I think 80-something pitches, and gave up a run. Just a super job by Zack.
“Then Will coming in and just throwing nothing but strikes, he gave up one home run. They hit a couple balls hard, obviously, but he also got them out front a lot, and we had some quick innings.”
Arkansas missed a good chance to win the game in the 10th inning. Caleb Cali walked to lead off the inning. Peyton Holt followed with an infield hit to third. Harold Coll laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that moved Hunter Grimes, who pinch ran for Cali, to third and Holt at second with just one out. However, Parker Rowland tried to bunt Grimes in and he was by a pretty wide margin at the plate. Tavian Josenberger then grounded out to second ending the inning.
Texas A&M broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third when they plated three runs. Brett Minnich doubled to start the inning with Max Kaufer then hitting a single to left field. Hunter Haas walked to load the bases. Jack Moss grounded out to second allowing Minnich to score from third. Trevor Werner then singled to left field scoring both Kaufer and Haas. Ryan Targac made it 4-0 in the top of the fourth with a solo shot over the fence in left.
In the bottom of the fourth, Coll walked with one out. Rowland then was hit by a pitch. Both advanced a base on a passed ball. Josenberger then lifted a sacrifice fly that allowed Coll to score pulling the Razorbacks within 4-1.
In the seventh, Rowland walked to begin the inning. Josenberger then flied out to left. Diggs reached on a catcher’s interference. Jace Bohrofen then walked to load the bases with one out. Wegner then blasted the Hogs in front with a no-doubt home run over the fence in left field.
“And I felt like we started taking better at-bats the second half,” Van Horn said. “I was hoping we could put together an inning. We were down four runs or three runs, and we had a catcher’s interference, a walk in there, and then Jared got him a fastball in, and I’m sure he was hunting it after his previous at-bat, and he got it and he didn’t miss it.
“Exciting way to end the game. Walk-off homer is about as good as it gets, and just proud of the guys for hanging in there.”
Cody Adcock got the start for Arkansas and lasted two innings. He allowed two hits, three runs, walked a pair and struck out one. Morris was outstanding again out of the bullpen. Morris worked 5.0 innings, three hits, one run, a walk and struck out five. Diggs praised the efforts of Morris and McEntire out of the bullpen.
“Yes sir, they did an amazing job,” Diggs said. “Zack’s last couple of outings have been outstanding. Shoot, I’ve faced him the last two years and he’s a great player and a great dude. And Will, he looked really good. We have confidence with him out there and he did a great job for us.”
The Aggies used four pitchers with Ty Sexton (1-3) taking the loss. Sexton allowed two hits and the one run to Diggs. Nathan Dettmer, Shane Sdao and Brandyn Garcia also pitched for the Aggies.
The Hogs finished with eight hits to seven for the Aggies. Holt and Diggs each had two to lead the Arkansas attack. Wegner had four runs batted in to lead all players.
Arkansas (40-15) will now face LSU (43-13) at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. LSU defeated South Carolina 10-3 on Wednesday. The Hogs lost two of three at LSU on March 24-25.
The Gamecocks (39-18) and Texas A&M (33-24) open Thursday’s action at 9:30 a.m. in an elimination game.