The Razorback baseball team took on the Kent State Golden Flashes in a double header March 9 in anticipation of inclement weather March 10. The Razorbacks took the first game 7-2 but dropped the second game 10-4.
Kent State senior right fielder Nick Kanavas opened the scoring in game one with a blast to left field off Razorback junior pitcher Blaine Knight.
Arkansas answered with a homer of their own in the top of the second. Freshman outfielder Heston Kjerstad led off with a walk, bringing up junior catcher Grant Koch. Koch took a 1-1 fastball down the left-field line, and it just stayed inside the foul pole to give the Hogs the lead.
The Hogs added four more runs in the fourth. Arkansas sophomore center fielder Dominic Fletcher led off with a double. He moved to third on a groundout and scored on a bunt single by senior second baseman Carson Shaddy. Junior shortstop Jax Biggers got on with another bunt single. Junior right fielder Eric Cole followed with a flaring home run to left, giving him his team-leading fourth home run.
“They got out, popped a home run pretty quick and got the lead,” Arkansas manager Dave Van Horn said. ”I felt like we did a good job of getting the lefties pitch count up. We put the game away with the big three-run homer by Cole.”
A hustle double by freshman third baseman Casey Martin prompted Kent State to go to the bullpen. The new pitcher was senior Chris Martin. Martin managed to get out of the inning without any more damage, catching Casey Martin stealing and getting Koch to pop out.
Kent State junior pitcher John Schreiber could not quite get a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. With two outs, Shaddy hit a line-drive home run into the Hogs’ bullpen to extend the lead to six.
The Golden Flashes made up one run in the eighth inning off of Arkansas freshman reliever Kole Ramage. Kent State junior second baseman Kian O’Brien singled and reached third after two wild pitches. He finally scored after a two-out single by senior center fielder Mason Mamarella.
Razorback sophomore Jacob Kostyshock came into the game for the ninth inning and got Golden Flash junior designated hitter Pete Schuler to ground into a double play to give the Razorbacks the game one win.
Knight settled in for the Razorbacks after giving up the first inning home run. He went six innings with one earned run, striking out six batters.
“My command was a lot better than last Friday,” Knight said. “I don’t even know what happened last Friday. I battled through it. This week felt more like normal.”
Ramage pitched two innings, giving up one run and striking out four, before giving way to Kostyshock in the ninth inning. The Hogs hit three home runs as a team. Cole, Koch and Shaddy had the home runs as well as all seven RBIs for the squad.
Kent State flashed out to an early three-run lead in the first. Marmella reached on an error by Shaddy. A walk and a wild pitch put Marmella at third base and Kanavas on first. Kent State junior third baseman Pavin Parks knocked them in with a double.
Arkansas got one back in the bottom of the first off Kent State junior pitcher Connor Wollersheim, who made his first start of the season. Razorback junior shortstop Jax Biggers doubled and later scored on a groundout by Martin.
The Golden Flashes struck for one run in the third inning. Kanavas reached on a throwing error from Biggers that sailed over Razorback sophomore first baseman Jordan McFarland’s head. Campbell hit Parks with a pitch to send Kanavas to second, and he scored on the single by Hamilton.
Kent State added to the lead in the fourth inning and chased Campbell from the game. Freshman designated hitter Nick Elsen singled and advanced to second on a passed ball by Razorback freshman catcher Casey Opitz. Mamarella doubled on Elsen, and Arkansas manager Dave Van Horn brought in junior pitcher Jake Reindl from the bullpen.
The Razorbacks made their move to edge their way back in the bottom of the fourth. Cole led off with a single followed by a walk by Casey Martin. Arkansas senior designated hitter Luke Bonfield singled home Cole and moved Martin to third. Kjerstad grounded out to score Martin, and the Flashes chose to go to the bullpen. Sophomore Austin Havekost replaced Wollersheim. He struck out Shaddy and Fletcher to end the threat.
The Golden Flashes got one run back in the top of the seventh. Mamarella singled, stole second and moved to third on a single by Kanavas. Arkansas sophomore pitcher Matt Cronin replaced Reindl. Mamarella scored on a sacrifice fly by Kent State senior catcher Tim Dalporto to stretch Kent State’s lead to three.
Arkansas sophomore pitcher Cody Scroggins walked Hamilton to begin the 8th. A wild pitch advanced Hamilton to second and freshman Caleb Bolden replaced Scroggins. Elsen singled to very shallow center, bringing across the seventh run for the Golden Flashes. Bolden struck out Kent State junior shortstop Josh Hollander but proceeded to walk three batters in a row, forcing in another run. Van Horn made the move to bring in Kostyshock to try and stop the bleeding. Parks greeted Kostyshock with a line-drive single that almost hit him. The hit brought in two more runs before getting Dalporto to ground out.
Arkansas continued to try to claw some runs out any way it could. Biggers walked and advanced to third on a single by Martin. Bonfield drove a deep fly to right field, deep enough to score Biggers. Ultimately, the Hogs could not overcome the six-run deficit in the loss.
Campbell and the Razorbacks were undone by errors. He went three-and-two-thirds innings, giving up five runs, but only one of them were earned. Bonfield went two-for-three with two RBIs.
The Razorbacks and Golden Flashes will play the rubber game of the series Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on SEC Network Plus.