The Arkansas Razorback baseball team earned its second straight series sweep Sunday afternoon after its 9-5 defeat of the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
“Today...was a trap game for us,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “Rainy day, 3-0, they had a great attitude. They just came out and played, showed some real maturity today. We didn’t have to try to pep anybody up, or ‘hey, we’ve got to go get ‘em.’ We didn’t have to say anything, they just got after it.”
The Hogs drew first blood Sunday afternoon when freshman second baseman Robert Moore drove in his eighth run of the series to score freshman catcher Dominic Tamez in the second inning. Moore, an early enrollee, finished the series 8-for-12 with nine runs batted in, four runs scored, two extra-base hits, three walks and two stolen bases including when he went from first to third on a walk Sunday.
“Last weekend, Robert...swung at pitches and didn’t take walks,” Van Horn said. “This weekend, [Moore] saw a lot of pitches. Took a couple walks today, yesterday. Fouled off pitches, got some hits. He’s off to a good start.”
Razorback sophomore starting pitcher Caleb Bolden looked strong through the first couple innings, Van Horn said, but he allowed consecutive hits in each of the next two.
Junior shortstop Casey Martin turned an unassisted double play to get Bolden out of the third unharmed, but Van Horn had seen enough after two batters in the fourth. Junior righty Marshall Denton inherited a tough situation but struck out the heart of the Gonzaga batting order to escape the jam.
The Razorback bats responded in the bottom half of the inning, beginning with a leadoff home run by sophomore outfielder Christian Franklin. Tamez singled, advanced to second on a groundout by senior first baseman Cole Austin and scored on another single by Moore. Moore’s second RBI knock of the afternoon chased Gonzaga starter Nick Trogrlic-Iverson from the game.
Juniors Braydon Webb and Matt Goodheart also singled in the fourth. Goodheart’s hit through the right side scored Moore and Webb, but the inning ended abruptly after junior outfielder Heston Kjerstad was thrown out trying to take home on a throwing error by the Bulldog catcher.
Freshman righty Blake Adams took the mound in the fifth and struggled mightily. Facing just four hitters, he surrendered a single, a walk and a double while only recording one out. All three batters that reached scored to cut the Arkansas lead to 5-3.
The Razorbacks wasted no time building the lead back up as Martin took a fastball deep to left field for his first longball of 2020.
“It was really good to see, honestly,” Martin said, noting his early-season struggles.
Martin gave the run right back to the Bulldogs in the top of the sixth on a fielding error, but his team had his back in the bottom of the inning. Kjerstad got things going with a check-swing double down the left field line, then Goodheart delivered his third hit and third run batted in of the afternoon. Franklin picked up his second hit to put runners on the corners for junior catcher Casey Opitz, who replaced Tamez just an inning earlier.
Gonzaga righty Michael Spellacy threw more pickoff attempts to first base than he did pitches during Opitz’s at-bat. On the sixth throw to first base, Spellacy threw the ball away allowing Goodheart to score and Franklin to scramble to third. Opitz drove the very next pitch to the fence in left-center field to score Franklin, extending the Hogs’ lead to five runs.
The Bulldogs pulled back within slam range with a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly off of freshman lefty Zack Morris in the seventh, but that would be all they could manage in their effort to salvage the final game of the series. Gonzaga fell to 2-6 after the four-game sweep while Arkansas improved to a perfect 7-0.
The Diamond Hogs will hit the road for the first time in 2020 next weekend for the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros.
“It’s a really good ballpark,” Van Horn said. “We know if it’s cold they’re going to close the roof. We know the weather’s going to be good no matter what and we’re going to get our games in. I think that’s a major plus when you travel.”
Arkansas will meet Oklahoma Friday at 3 p.m., Texas Saturday at 7 p.m. and Baylor Sunday at 7 p.m.