The No. 1 Arkansas baseball team (8-0) defeated the Murray State Racers (5-4) in comeback fashion, 7-6, Friday, March 5 at Baum-Walker Stadium to remain undefeated. Senior right-hander Kevin Kopps was credited as the winning pitcher while right-handed freshman Jaxon Wiggins picked up the save in a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The game was scoreless through the first two innings. In the top of the third, Murray State senior left fielder Ryan Perkins came through with an RBI single into center to take a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third, with the bases loaded, freshman right fielder Cayden Wallace hit a sacrifice fly into right field to score sophomore second baseman Robert Moore from third. Senior catcher Casey Opitz followed up with a two-out, two-run triple on a misplayed ball in right.
Murray State senior Jake Slunder drove in a run with two outs and runners on first and second in the top of the fourth.
With the Hogs up 3-2, Racers senior right fielder Brock Anderson hit a two-run home run on a 1-0 count with one out to take a 4-3 lead. The top of the fifth featured another two-run home run by senior first baseman Trey Woosley with a full count with one out.
Moore hit a two-run shot over the right field fence in the bottom of the sixth with two outs to cut the Racer lead to one. After Zack Gregory got on with a pinch-hit walk, Moore blasted another two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth on a 1-1 count to take the lead.
Wiggins came into the top of the ninth to pick up the save on a fly out and back-to-back strikeouts.
Moore went 3-for-4 at the plate with two home runs, a single, a walk and four RBIs, while also swiping a base.
Arkansas used seven pitchers in the game, with a tally of 18 strikeouts.
Sophomore right-hander Peyton Pallette started for the Razorbacks. He pitched four innings, while allowing two runs, four hits, three walks and struck out 10.
Murray State senior right-handed pitcher Alec Whaley was handed his first loss of the season. The Racers’ team leader in innings pitched went 1 ⅓ innings, while allowing four hits, two earned runs, two walks, Moore’s home run and struck out two.
In the top of the eighth, Kopps relieved sophomore right-hander Ryan Costeiu, with runners on first and second and one out. After striking out a batter and allowing a walk,
Kopps got out of the bases-loaded jam by striking out Perkins to stop Murray State from doing any damage and keeping the deficit at 6-5.
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said he is not trying to think about the Hogs being the top-ranked team in the nation.
“I haven’t even talked to the team one time about where we’re ranked,” Van Horn said in a press conference through Zoom on Thursday. “Zero. Zero times this week have I mentioned one thing about us being ranked.”
The No. 1 Hogs will take on the Racers on Saturday at 1 p.m. for game two of the series. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network+.