The No. 2 Razorback baseball team (5-0) battled the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (2-3) in the second game of the series Friday, Feb. 26. The Hogs blasted four home runs on their way to a 7-3 victory.
Arkansas’ batters got off to another slow start. They have not scored more than two runs in the first five innings of a game so far this season.
“I don’t know why, honestly,” head coach Dave Van Horn said. “I just give credit to the other team’s starter for now and we just have to do a better job creating some offense in the first few innings.”
Senior pitcher Zebulon Vermillion started the game for the Hogs. The big righty had some control issues early, walking four in three innings. A walk and a pair of singles led to a couple of third inning runs for the Redhawks.
The Hogs answered with a two-run home run off the bat of sophomore second baseman Robert Moore in the bottom of the third to tie the game.
Junior pitcher Connor Noland came on in relief in the fourth inning after a couple of walks put runners on the corners with only one out. He got the first hitter he faced to line into a double play to end the inning.
“It was good to see Connor come in,” Van Horn said after the game. “The stuff Connor had today was probably the best I’ve seen him have since he’s been here.”
Noland struck out the side in the fifth inning and retired the first eight batters he faced. He finished the game with one run allowed on two hits over 4 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking none.
SEMO pitcher Noah Niznik pitched well for five innings. He allowed just the two runs on two hits, striking out five and walking none.
In the bottom of the sixth inning however, freshman right fielder Cayden Wallace and junior catcher Charlie Welch each belted two-run home runs into the left field stands, giving Arkansas a 6-2 lead.
“(Wallace) came up with a big two-run homer,” Van Horn said. “He hit another ball really well that flew out to the fence in left-center. And then Charlie Welch, he’s got a knack for hitting the ball hard and to the pull side.... That ball was rocketed out of here and it was good to see him get his first hit as a Razorback.”
The Razorbacks held onto the lead for the rest of the game. SEMO added a run in the seventh inning on a pair of singles to bring the score to 6-3.
Junior center fielder Christian Franklin added to the fireworks display with an opposite-field home run to lead off the bottom of the eighth. He put Arkansas back up by four, 7-3.
Senior pitcher Kevin Kopps came in to close the game in the ninth, striking out two.
The Arkansas Razorbacks play game three of the series at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 27 at Baum-Walker Stadium. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network+.