When Oklahoma called to cancel their exhibition against Arkansas a few weeks ago due to weather, Dave Van Horn reached out to UALR coach Chris Curry for another opportunity to play a game on the road. This fall has already proven great experience for the Razorbacks, who were able to play unfamiliar competition both in and away from Baum Stadium.
On Friday evening, Arkansas used 10 pitchers who allowed 11 hits while striking out 20 and walking just 4 in a 14 inning, 16-3 win over the Trojans at Gary Hogan Field in Little Rock.
Isaiah Campbell started for the second week in a row on Friday and pitched 3 scoreless innings, giving up 3 hits and a walk while striking out 3. Campbell’s outing was a bit rocky at times as he pitched in and out of trouble, including getting out of a bases loaded, no outs situation.
Kole Ramage and Evan Taylor pitched 2 scoreless innings apiece and they each struck out 4 batters. Matt Cronin pitched another perfect ninth, striking out the side on 17 pitches.
The most exciting thing to see on the mound perhaps was Kevin Kopps who struck out 2 and walked 1 in a scoreless inning of work. Kopps, who had Tommy John surgery this time last year, was just recently cleared to throw his breaking ball and he featured it in only his second live outing this fall. Having him back this season will be a large boost for a team who lost a lot of quality pitchers to the draft.
The Hogs offense pounded out 17 hits, including 5 doubles, and drove in 11 runs without the benefit of a home run, but they also struck out 17 times. Seven players had a multi-hit game with 6 of them recording at least 1 RBI.
Top 2020 prospect Casey Martin led the way with a single, 2 doubles, 4 RBI, and 3 runs scored. Casey Opitz had a day as well with 3 his of his own, including a double, and he scored 4 runs. Opitz, the projected starting catcher this season, also got innings in at first base and second base in the scrimmage.
Jacob Nesbit drove in 3 runs on 2 hits and scored 3 times, while Jack Kenley and Christian Franklin each singled, doubled and drove in a run apiece. Dominic Fletcher and Trey Harris had two hits each, with Harris adding an RBI to his line.
Speaking after the game, Van Horn mentioned that Campbell and Cronin will both be shut down for the rest of fall practice to rest their arms. He also spoke highly of the Freshman Harris, touting his athleticism and bat speed that he believes will keep up with SEC pitching. Harris, an outfielder out of Little Rock Christian, will add to the already deep outfield next season.
It was also said that a few players were struggling with illness, and Heston Kjerstad and Jordan McFarland seemingly were two of those guys as they did not play in the game.
Since finishing as the National Runner Up to Oregon State, Van Horn and his coaching staff have been producing a quite impressive 2020 recruiting class. Already ranked among the top 5, Van Horn believes a couple more commitments could push them to the top class in the nation.
Up next for the Hogs is the team’s annual Fall World Series, which will be a best of 5 intra-squad series and start on Monday at 1pm. The series will be the final week of fall practice and the last opportunity for those fighting in roster and position battles to prove themselves.