Ark. vs Racers 3/6

Senior infielder Cullen Smith watches his home run ball travel during Saturday’s win over Murray State. Smith was one of three Razorbacks to homer in the game, which finished by an 11-6 final score.

The No. 1 Arkansas baseball team (9-0) topped the Murray State Racers (5-5), 11-6, Saturday, March 6, at Baum-Walker Stadium. Sophomore right-hander Blake Adams was credited as the winning pitcher in his season debut, with holds by junior left-hander Caden Monke and junior right-hander Elijah Trest. Senior righty Zebulon Vermillion picked up the save in 2 ⅓ innings of work.

Murray State launched with a four-spot in the top of the second inning. Racers senior first baseman Trey Woosley hit a two-run home run, then senior center fielder Jake Slunder and senior left fielder Ryan Perkins came through with back-to-back RBI doubles to take a 4-0 lead. The starting pitcher for Arkansas, junior right-handed pitcher Caleb Bolden, was pulled and Adams entered in relief.

Bolden looked to bounce back after his rocky start against the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks on Thursday, Feb. 25. He recorded one out in his start and gave up three earned runs, a hit and two walks while facing only five batters before being pulled.

“On the mound, we struggled out of the gate again,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said in a postgame press conference through Zoom. “Blake Adams came in and gave us a couple of quality innings that let us crawl back in and (we) just kept handing the ball off.”

The Razorbacks followed up in the bottom of the second, with a three-run home run by third baseman Cullen Smith for his first career bomb as a Hog to cut the Racer lead.

Slunder came back in the top of the fourth to pick up his second RBI of the game and put the Racers back up by two, 5-3.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, junior center fielder Christian Franklin cleared the bases with a double into deep center field to give the Hogs the lead. Arkansas held onto the lead for the rest of the game.

The bottom of the sixth featured a solo shot by sophomore left fielder Zack Gregory into right field. Sophomore second baseman Robert Moore followed up with a walk and a steal of second base. Franklin drove Moore in with a single.

Franklin went 3-for-4 with two singles, a double, a walk and four RBIs.

Murray State got a run back in the top of the seventh with senior third baseman Bryson Bloomer’s two-out RBI single and Vermillion came in to relieve Trest.

Junior shortstop Jalen Battles brought in a run on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the seventh to put the Hogs back up by three, 9-6.

Junior first baseman Brady Slavens smashed a two-run bomb into left field to give Arkansas some insurance runs.

Vermillion blanked the Racers in the bottom of the ninth for his first save of the season. He pitched 2 ⅓ innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.

“That was a really good win for our team,” Van Horn said. “We got down four runs, gave up a big inning. I felt like our offense just kept chipping away, got a couple of really big hits. When you give up four runs in an inning, you need to score in your half of that inning, if all possible, just to slow down the momentum a little bit for the other team.”

The OmaHogs had 20 men reach base, with 12 base hits, seven walks and a hit batter.

Arkansas is on a 13-game winning streak dating back to last season.

The No. 1 Razorbacks faced off against the Racers one last time on Sunday afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium.

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