Maybe it just took a little bit to get things going in this first-ever matchup.
A grand slam by Cayden Wallace got Arkansas’ offense off and rolling to an 8-4 win over Arkansas State at Baum-Walker Stadium on Tuesday night in a game anticipated by fans of both teams.
With the decision last year to finally let the Razorbacks start playing in-state schools, it was a pitchers’ battle for the first give innings that turned into parade of guys walking to the mound.
“We pitched extremely well,” Dave Van Horn said later. “Take away one, maybe two, guys and we threw (counting) nine guys.”
Jaxon Wiggins started, but only went two innings that started a parade of Heston Tole, Lyle Lockhart, Kole Ramage, Elijah Trest, Zebulon Vermillion, Zach Morris, Ryan Costieu and Connor Noland in the ninth.
Lockhart threw just two innings but got the win after striking out half the batters he faced.
“Wiggins came out and did a really nice job,” Van Horn said. “Lockhart was about as good as he’s been in a while. His stuff was really good tonight.”
But it was Noland in the ninth inning that re-energized a crowd of 7,645 that probably should have been near capacity but hasn’t been opened up yet.
“He had really good stuff,” Van Horn said about the sophomore that has been hampered with an arm injury most of the season. “It was good to see those guys because we’re going to need as many as we can down the stretch.”
The offense struggled against Red Wolves’ pitcher Tyler Jean for four innings until things got away from him in the fifth.
Dylan Leach singled, then Zach Gregory was hit by a pitch, Matt Goodheart walked and Wallace blasted a towering homer into the new baseball center nearing completion in right field.
From there it got into a typical mid-week game with a lot of new guys playing and regulars maybe relaxing a little as the Hogs built an 8-1 lead before things got sloppy in the eighth inning and ASU added three runs.
Noland wasn’t allowing much of anything in the ninth inning.
“I could see him coming out of the pen and us having confidence in him,” Van Horn said, although he might figure into the Sunday starting role that has not been taken by anyway on a regular basis. “What he threw tonight was as good as I’ve seen him throw in a long time.
“Even the pitches that were called balls were in the zone, just down a little … maybe not even down. If they were down they were just a ball down. He looked good.”
With six games left in the regular season, the day three starter is the last spot in the rotation that hasn’t been nailed down.
It wouldn’t exactly be shocking to see Noland work his way into that role.
But for now a road matchup with Tennessee will be followed by a home series with Florida to end the regular season.
That’s why winning against ASU was big.
“It was a good win for us,” Van Horn said.
Mainly because he got to get some players time on the field.
As Van Horn said, he’s going to need a lot of pitchers in a couple of weeks when tournament time starts.
And that’s really what counts.