Josenberger

Arkansas junior center fielder Tavian Josenberger bats during Thursday’s exhibition against the Texas Rangers Instructional League team. Josenberger hit one of the Razorbacks’ five home runs during the series, of which the Diamond Hogs won both games.

The Razorback baseball team welcomed the Texas Rangers Instructional League team for a two-game series this week as it continues to prepare for the upcoming season. Power, pitching, and patience led the Hogs to a comprehensive sweep of the Rangers.

In the first game, the Hogs were down 2-0 before they even came to the plate. Despite hitting 98 miles per hour on the radar gun, junior pitcher Jaxon Wiggins was on the short end of a defensive miscue. Junior third baseman Caleb Cali dropped a routine pop-up by the leadoff man. Wiggins looked to wiggle himself out of trouble getting the next two hitters out before first baseman Josh Hatcher deposited a ball over the fence for a two-run home run.

In the third, junior catcher Hudson Polk hit the first of five home runs in the series for the Hogs, a towering 422-foot shot to dead center to cut the lead in half.

The next inning, the Hogs leveled the score courtesy of a solo home run from designated hitter Kendall Diggs, a 387-foot blast to right.

The Razorbacks made it three scoring innings in a row, taking a 3-2 lead thanks to an RBI single by sophomore second baseman Peyton Stovall.

The Razorbacks tacked on five runs in the seventh to send the fans home happy. A mix of poor pitching on the Rangers' part and a fortuitous bit of luck from the baseball gods put the game out of reach.

Junior center fielder Tavian Josenberger and Cali reached base to start the inning via a walk and a single, respectively, before Stovall put runners at first and third on a fielder's choice. Graduate left fielder Jared Wegner drove in Josenberger with another fielder’s choice, and Diggs’ walk loaded the bases.

Junior first baseman Ben McLaughlin hit a sacrifice fly, which brought up junior right fielder Jace Bohrofen to the plate with two on and two out. Bohorfen launched a missile over the right field fence that registered at an exit velocity of 107 miles per hour and traveled 411 feet, mercifully ending the frame.

All the while, Razorback pitching prevented the Rangers from mustering up anything on offense. Razorback pitching finished the night with 15 total strikeouts and just five walks. Juniors Hunter Hollan and Cody Adcock both worked two scoreless innings. Sophomore Jake Feherty, senior Zack Morris and freshman Gage Wood all pitched a scoreless frame, combining with Wiggins to hold Texas without an earned run.

“I thought our pitching was outstanding,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “They just kept throwing strikes. (The Rangers) lay off a lot of borderline pitches, and they work the count, but our pitchers did a great job.”

The Razorbacks applied the finishing touches with two additional runs after graduate shortstop John Bolton hit a sac fly and Stovall capped off a 3-5 night with yet another RBI single to make the final score 10-2.

The Hogs were back at it Thursday for a seven inning-affair. Arkansas found itself down early once again after a walk, stolen base and two groundouts against sophomore pitcher Hagen Smith plated the game's first run in the first. The Rangers tacked on two more in the second off of sophomore Nick Griffin thanks to an RBI triple by second baseman Keithron Moss and a sacrifice fly by third baseman Griffin Cheney.

The Hogs struggled against starter Josh Gessner, but once his two innings of work were complete, Arkansas went to work on pitcher Ivan Oviedo, scoring four runs in the bottom of the third to take the lead. Junior catcher Parker Rowland and shortstop Harold Coll reached to begin the inning in front of Josenberger, who blasted the ball to left over the wall to tie the game with one swing of the bat.

"I wouldn't say I go up there trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark," Josenberger said. "Today, the wind was blowing out. I just poked one over there and let the wind work for me."

Wegner then deposited an RBI single in front of back-to-back walks by Stovall and Cali to give Arkansas the lead.

Two-out magic gave the Hogs an insurance run in the fourth. A Bohorfen single followed by a Rowland double extended the lead to two. The Hogs got another run in the fifth on a throwing error by the second baseman.

The Hogs’ pitching staff once again held the Rangers’ offense down after the early blemish. Sophomore Austin Ledbetter, graduate Koty Frank, freshman Parker Coil and sophomore Dylan Carter each pitched a scoreless inning.

Despite leading 6-4 going into the bottom of the seventh, the Razorbacks still came to the plate in an attempt to get the Rangers’ pitchers more work. That allowed freshman infielder Reese Robinett to deliver a two-run homer on the first pitch.

Arkansas will continue to rev up for the 2023 season during the Fall World Series, a best-of-three-game intrasquad series from October 17-20. The series begins at 1 p.m. Monday at Baum Walker-Stadium.

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