Editor’s Note: This article was originally intended to be published on June 1, 2019. Due to an error in the publishing system, it was not visible. We are sorry for any confusion.
It was a fantastic start to the Fayetteville Regional, as a big crowd saw a big game from Connor Noland and the Razorback bats. Bouncing back from a lackluster SEC Tournament performance, the Hogs got it done at home, as they comfortably beat Central Connecticut State. The starting quarterba— sorry— pitcher only allowed one run, and didn’t walk a single batter through five innings of action, as coach Dave Van Horn gave the freshman the nod with usual day one starter Isaiah Campbell being saved for later. The poor batting performance in Hoover was overcome, as Heston Kjerstad and Trevor Ezell sent balls into orbit, while Jack Kenley and Christian Franklin joined them in registering two or more hits.
The best moment of the day came with the first Hog Call, as Central Connecticut players found themselves wondering what in the world was happening. Never change, Hog Fans.
Leadoff hitter Trevor Ezell had a great day, recording 3 hits and bringing in 3 runs. He sent one 402 feet into the Razorback boxes during the eighth inning to ensure a Razorback win. Phil Elson had a great call on that homer:
Mama, there goes that ball. Mama, there goes that man.— Razorback Baseball (@RazorbackBSB) May 31, 2019
T Eazy's absolutely torched this one into the Hog Pen pic.twitter.com/KoGAQWPTP5
Earlier, Heston Kjerstad gave the Hogs a solo homer and a 3-1 lead in the fourth, as he turned in a healthy 3 for 4 game. That brings him level with Martin on home runs for the year, and also gives him one more than he had last year. Hey! Improvement!
Casey Martin had a rough time, going 0 for 5, but it didn’t matter, as the other bats made up for it. Hopefully he’ll be able to break out of this mini-slump in the next game. The law of averages make me think he will.
Overall it was an impressive performance, as the Razorbacks turned in their 20th game of the year with 10 or more runs. The team is 20-0 in those games, so it would probably be a good strategy to keep doing that.
It’s really fun to see a dual sport athlete have such success. Connor Noland got the start, and did not disappoint. He retired his first nine batters before giving up only one of two hits. Central Connecticut did put some offense together, but Noland took down the last five batters he faced. It was his second-consecutive week of going five or more innings, which will be a huge boon to the Hogs should they advance past this Regional (they should).
Later, Kevin Kopps struck out four batters through 1.2 innings, and Marshall Denton closed the game out. Denton surrendered three runs, but led a scoreless 9th to seal the Hogs’ victory.
It’s Winner’s Bracket or bust, as the Hogs will take on the winner of TCU and California. I don’t really wanna play the guessing game, as both teams have had their moments this year, but with the way some Cal twitter folks have been talking smack, I’d enjoy giving them a Baum-Walker welcome.