The unanimous No. 1 Arkansas baseball team (12-1) traveled to Ruston, Louisiana, to challenge the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (9-5) for its first road series of the year, winning two of three games.
The Razorbacks entered J.C. Love Field with an unblemished 10-0 record. It was the first time the Hogs had left Fayetteville since their neutral site tournament at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
Arkansas won the Friday and Saturday games before dropping its first game of the season on Sunday, ending the 16 game winning streak dating back to last season.
In true Arkansas fashion, the Razorbacks made a late-inning comeback in the series opener. Arkansas senior designated hitter Matt Goodheart jump-started the offense with a home run in a three-run fourth inning.
Tech answered back, but freshman right fielder Cayden Wallace kept Arkansas within striking distance with a sixth-inning home run. Wallace finished the game 2-3 with three runs scored.
The Bulldogs plated a couple seventh inning runs to go up 7-4, but Louisiana Tech’s lack of control on the mound kept Arkansas in the game.
A trio of walks loaded the bases with two outs before sophomore left fielder Zack Gregory was hit by a pitch to bring in a run. The next hitter, sophomore second baseman Robert Moore singled and tied the game in the eighth.
After a leadoff double in the 10th inning, junior shortstop Jalen Battles went yard to give Arkansas a 9-7 lead.
The pitching of senior Kevin Kopps and freshman Jaxon Wiggins sealed the game for the Hogs. They combined for three scoreless innings, and Wiggins earned his second save of the year. The freshman has allowed no hits so far this season through four innings pitched.
In game two, Arkansas jumped on the Bulldogs for an 8-1 victory. The duo of Wallace and junior first baseman Brady Slavens led the offensive barrage.
Slavens had a pair of doubles and three RBIs. Wallace had another impressive game, going 3-4 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored. The duo hit in four runs in the first five innings, giving the Razorbacks a 5-1 lead.
The Hogs added three runs in the eighth on two singles and four walks. Two of the runs scored on wild pitches.
Senior pitcher Zebulon Vermillion dominated the Bulldog hitters, hurling eight innings and allowing just one run on three hits.
“He just really pitched today,” head coach Dave Van Horn said after the game. “His stuff was good. He could get it up to 92-93 (mph) every now and then, but he pitched a lot around 90 and used different pitches, so it was really good to see.”
The win put Arkansas’ record at 12-0, the longest undefeated streak to start the season in the Van Horn era, and second-longest winning streak to open the season in program history, after an 18-0 start to the 1996 season.
In game three, Louisiana Tech pitcher Jarret Whorff threw a two-hit complete game shutout, striking out 10 Hogs.
Arkansas senior pitcher Lael Lockhart had an impressive performance through four shutout innings, but he struggled in the fifth.
Tech scored a couple runs after the first three batters of the inning singled. One rough inning was all it took for the Bulldogs to hand the Razorbacks their first loss of the season.
Arkansas had a chance at the end to come back with runners on the corners following a hit-by-pitch and a walk. The end left Hog fans unsatisfied after Slavens struck out looking on a pitch that appeared to be well off of the plate.
The Razorbacks return home to host the Oklahoma Sooners for a single game at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 16. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.