Slavens 2/28

Junior Brady Slavens greets freshman Cayden Wallace after his home run in the second inning of Sunday’s win over Southeast Missouri State. The duo hit back-to-back homers in the inning to lift the Razorbacks to their seventh consecutive victory. 

The No. 2 Arkansas baseball team (7-0) swept Southeast Missouri State (2-5) on Sunday with an 11-4 victory over the Redhawks in a weather-shortened five-inning matchup.

Freshman right fielder Cayden Wallace and junior first baseman Brady Slavens kicked things off with back-to-back solo home runs to begin the bottom of the second inning.

Senior catcher Casey Opitz doubled and scored the third run of the inning on a single by junior shortstop Jalen Battles.

Senior pitcher Lael Lockhart worked himself into a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the third inning after a couple walks and a fielder’s choice that did not result in an out.

“The field conditions were pretty bad from like the second inning on,” head coach Dave Van Horn said. “It started getting slick on the mound… I think it really affected Lockhart. In the first inning he threw extremely well.”

Lockhart avoided the big inning and the Redhawks only scored one run in the inning. Senior third baseman Cullen Smith saved a run by throwing out a runner at home. SEMO first baseman Austin Blazevic struck out looking to end the inning and escape the jam with minimal damage.

“One thing about Lockhart, he knows how to get out of a jam,” Van Horn said. “He’s done a good job of that, he did it down in Texas as well when he got in a jam. The fact they only scored one run, they could have easily scored all three of those runs or taken the lead, so just a good job by Lockhart finding a way to make some pitches and getting them out.”

Arkansas answered in the bottom of the inning. Smith brought home a run with an RBI double to left-center field.

Smith scored after a throwing error that led to a collision at first base with Blazevic and Opitz, who walked off the field on his own but left the game.

“He’s doing well,” Van Horn said. “His head’s fine. It doesn't look like there’s any issues. He passed all the tests, the concussion protocol... He’s in good spirits. Looks like he’s going to be okay.”

Lockhart found himself in another jam in the fourth inning after a single, a walk and a double steal put runners at second and third with two outs. A single brought both runners home and ended Lockhart’s outing.

Junior pitcher Caden Monke came in and walked the only two batters he faced to load the bases. He was relieved by senior pitcher Kevin Kopps who induced a check-swing groundball to end the inning.

The Hogs majorly retaliated again in the fourth inning, when they sent 11 batters to the plate and tacked on six runs to go up 11-3.

Sophomore second baseman Robert Moore led off the inning with a double and scored on a fielding error by the SEMO shortstop. Senior designated hitter Matt Goodheart followed up with a no-doubt two-run home run to right-center field.

Back-to-back doubles from Wallace and Slavens added another run to the inning before SEMO could record an out. Freshman left fielder Ethan Bates singled home a run and Battles followed with an RBI double.

“I really like Bates at the plate,” Van Horn said. “He showed me a really good approach today. He battled and battled and drew a walk, he battled and got him a nice pitch, got on top of it. He brings some pop and he’s a left handed bat. I think he can help us this year and I think he’s going to be a force the next couple years.”

SEMO added a solo home run in the top of the fifth before the game entered a rain delay.

Wallace and Slavens were a dynamic duo at the four and five spots in the lineup. They combined to hit 4-5 with a walk, three RBIs and four runs scored. Each had a double and home run. Goodheart and Battles also had notable performances, adding two hits and two RBIs each.

“I feel good about our team, where we’re at,” Van Horn said. “Bottom line you need to win games, and we’re winning them whether we play real well or just okay. We found a way to win a couple games where we were behind in these first seven.”

The Razorbacks will take on the Murray State Racers at 3 p.m. Friday, March 5 at Baum-Walker Stadium. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network+.

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