UA vs Aggies 4/17

The Razorbacks mob freshman right fielder Cayden Wallace after their 2-1 win Saturday night. Arkansas swept Texas A&M in the doubleheader, securing their fifth SEC series win in as many weekends. 

The antsy crowd at Baum-Walker Stadium showed its nervousness Saturday in the 10th inning when Arkansas freshman right fielder Cayden Wallace served up a double-play ball to Texas A&M shortstop Kalae Harrison. Second baseman Ty Coleman turned it cleanly, but he spiked the throw to first base, creating a frenzy as sophomore second baseman Robert Moore rounded third to score the winning run. The extra-inning rally lifted the Razorbacks to a 2-1 win and a doubleheader sweep.

“It’s been one hard-fought win after another with this team,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said in the postgame press conference. “We hung in there, we pitched really well, we got just enough hits, we played good defense all day. Two wins in one day against an SEC team, that’s a real good day.”

Following Friday night’s rainout, the Razorbacks spent their second consecutive Saturday churning out a doubleheader. They put on a pitching clinic in 19 innings, using five hurlers who collectively allowed one run, eight hits, five walks and struck out 26 Aggies.

“Everyone we put out there did their job,” Van Horn said.

Sophomore Peyton Pallette and senior Kevin Kopps shined in the nightcap with six and four innings pitched, respectively. Pallette earned a quality start, cruising through six scoreless innings without walking a batter. Kopps surrendered a solo home run to the first batter he faced, but settled down to notch his team-leading sixth win of the season.

The A&M pitchers matched their Arkansas counterparts in the second game, keeping the Hogs scoreless for eight innings following an early homer by senior designated hitter Matt Goodheart. They struck out 14 Razorbacks and kept the home team from stringing hits together until the 10th, when Moore and Goodheart singled to set the table for Wallace.

The first game went much smoother for Arkansas. The Hogs breezed by the Aggies with a complete team effort, picking up 13 runs as junior Patrick Wicklander, sophomore Caden Monke and freshman Heston Tole combined for a three-hit shutout.

“I thought Wicklander was the best he’s been all year,” Van Horn said of his starting lefty. Wicklander only pitched 4 ⅔ innings, but he gave up one hit, walked two and punched out seven.

Arkansas scored early and often, beginning with a two-run double by junior first baseman Brady Slavens. In the second inning, both Goodheart and Slavens went deep to make it a 5-0 game. In their last five games, the two sluggers have belted seven longballs and driven in 22 runs.

The Hogs manufactured a sixth run in the fifth inning before conducting a hit parade in their final three trips to the plate. The three-run sixth culminated in a two-run double by Wallace, Moore launched a two-out, two-run bomb to post another three-spot in the seventh and junior center fielder Christian Franklin hit a sacrifice fly to score Wallace in the eighth.

“We’ve won a bunch of games different ways,” Van Horn said. “One-run game, 10-run game, man, it feels good to win.”

The Diamond Hogs will send senior left-hander Lael Lockhart to the mound at 2 p.m. Sunday, looking for their second Southeastern Conference series sweep. A win would ensure a two-game lead in the West Division, and another week atop the college baseball rankings.

“We’ve got most of our bullpen (available),” Van Horn said. “We’re going to do all we can to win tomorrow, that’s for sure.”

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