For Dave Van Horn, everything today went exactly as planned.
Blaine Knight threw a season high 8 innings, gave up just three hits, two runs, and got plenty of run support as Arkansas took down Oral Roberts 10-2. At the plate, all 10 Razorbacks who came to the plate got a base hit, led by Heston Kjerstad who had two opposite field home runs and four RBIs.
Knight only had two strikeouts but the Golden Eagles couldn’t square up enough balls, give Arkansas’ defense plenty of chances to make plays, and they did. Oral Roberts catcher Riley Keizor was the only one to get good contact on Knight, hitting two solo home runs. The only other hit ORU could manage was a bunt single. Big-Game Blaine had great control as well and kept his pitch count to just 104 pitches, allowing Arkansas to save their bullpen for the rest of the regional.
It took a few innings to get to ORU starter Justin McGregor, who started against the Hogs in the 2017 Regional, but Kjerstad put the Hogs up 2-0 with his first HR in the third inning. ORU cut the lead in half before the Hogs would break things open in the sixth. Carson Shaddy would hit a solo dinger, and that started a string of five straight hits that included Kjerstad’s second of the day.
Knight kept mowing them down and the Hogs stayed aggressive, tacking on one more in the seventh and three more in the eighth to give the Hogs the 10-2 final score.
For Arkansas this was the ideal way to start the regional. Arkansas got a good swing from everyone who came to the plate. Carson Shaddy broke his slump, and the freshman duo kept their play up. Arkansas was able to only use Cody Scroggins out of the bullpen, saving the key arms for the rest of the regional.
Next up is the winner of the Southern Miss/Dallas Baptist matchup. That will be the late game on Saturday, giving the Hogs a few more hours of rest, which was exactly why Van Horn chose to play the early game.