Hogs Break from Typical Central Arkansas Script + More from Win vs UAPB

Wehiwa Aloy, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs UAPB
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

Two things are almost a given when the Arkansas baseball team makes its annual trip to Dickey-Stephens Park: Fans will show up and it’ll probably be closer than expected.

Tuesday’s sellout crowd in North Little Rock was treated to a walk-off, but not in the traditional sense of the term, as Peyton Stovall’s seventh-inning sacrifice fly lifted the No. 2 Razorbacks to an 11-1 run-rule win over UAPB.

“It’s nice playing in this environment,” Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn said. “It’s amazing. A lot of fans that can’t get to Northwest Arkansas, at least very much. Kind of made it easy for them to get out here and they showed up. They don’t care really how it went and they were loud at the end. It was fun.”

It’s just the second blowout win by Arkansas in 13 tries at the home of the Arkansas Travelers, the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Even though the Razorbacks are now 11-2 in those games, nearly all of them have been tight. In fact, nine of the previous 12 were decided by one or two runs.

Things were tracking toward another barnburner against the lowly Golden Lions, who entered the night with twice as many losses (26) as wins (13) and the second-worst RPI (No. 304) in the country, with the score tied through 4.5 innings.

Arkansas was up just 3-1 when it flipped the script with a seven-run sixth inning in which it sent 11 batters to the plate.

None of the first seven notched a hit, but four walks, an error and a sacrifice fly resulted in two runs coming around and loaded the bases for Wehiwa Aloy.

The Hawaiian blew the game open when his flare to right fell and drove in two runs. Kendall Diggs followed with an RBI single and the other Hawaiian, Nolan Souza, put a bow on the inning with a two-run double.

“Tonight didn’t start out great up and down the lineup, but it finished really good the last couple of innings,” Van Horn said. “Seemed like everything we hit was hard except for Wehiwa’s check-swing single where he drove in two. Sometimes when it starts to flow, it flows.”

The seventh inning started with back-to-back singles by Ross Lovich and Ryder Helfrick. A fly out by Will Edmunson moved Lovich to third, setting the stage for Stovall’s game-ending RBI.

Pitching Delivers Again

Arkansas used four pitchers in Tuesday’s win and they combined to allow only one run on seven hits while racking up 11 strikeouts in seven innings, continuing what has largely been great pitching in midweek games this season.

It started with right-hander Ben Bybee, who might be in the mix to come out of the bullpen this weekend after throwing only 33 pitches in two innings against UAPB.

He was charged with the game’s lone run, but he actually pitched well. The first two hits he gave up were not well hit at all, but the latter of those — a flare into left by Carlos Rodriguez-Velez — set up JaKobi Jackson’s RBI double in the second.

That hit came on an 0-2 mistake by Bybee, but he didn’t let it faze him. Even after a passed ball moved Jackson to third, the 6-foot-6 sophomore locked in and got three straight strikeouts to strand the go-ahead run 90 feet away.

UAPB didn’t have another good scoring opportunity the rest of the game, with the bullpen shutting it down over the final five innings.

Cooper Dossett faced the minimum in three scoreless innings despite giving up a couple hits. Those base runners were erased by a caught stealing and double play ball. The right-hander had four strikeouts and threw only 29 pitches.

It was Dossett’s fourth straight dominant midweek appearance and the longest outing of his career, surpassing his 2 2/3 scoreless innings against Texas Tech last week. Afterward, Van Horn said they almost used him this past weekend and he is “definitely in the mix” to get on the mound against Florida.

Right-hander Christian Foutch and left-hander Parker Coil each threw a scoreless inning of relief, with the latter being the most impressive. Despite owning the highest ERA on the team, Coil needed only nine pitches to retire UAPB in order in the seventh, getting the last two outs on back-to-back three-pitch strikeouts.

The RBI Machine

Even though the Razorbacks scored 11 runs, only one player notched multiple hits. That was shortstop Wehiwa Aloy, who went 4 for 4 with a double and a season-high five RBIs. The four hits were also a season high and tied Peyton Stovall (April 10 vs. San Jose State) and Ben McLaughlin (March 10 vs. McNeese State) for the most in a single game by an Arkansas player this year.

The Sacramento State transfer started the scoring with an RBI single to left in the first inning, but it was his third hit that Van Horn described as the “biggest swing of the day.”

With runners on first and second and two outs in the fifth inning, UAPB was a strike away from escaping the jam. Instead, Aloy hit left-hander Calvin McClendon’s 0-2 pitch over the right fielder’s head for a two-run double that gave Arkansas a 3-1 lead.

Aloy’s fourth hit also drove in two runs and came in the sixth on what play-by-play man Phil Elson described as a “half swing.”

“Things are going your way a little bit, you get a check-swing and you drive in two runs,” Van Horn said. “The big swing was the double to right-center on an 0-2 pitch. I think he tried to throw a little changeup or a little slider away that he got a strike on the pitch before, he went back to it and he drove it over the right fielder’s head. Instead of being a tie game, we had a two-run lead.”

The performance gives Aloy 42 RBIs, which is 12 more than any other Arkansas player this season, and raised his batting average 19 points to .294.

Injury Updates

Although he didn’t appear in Tuesday’s game, Jared Sprague-Lott will “probably play” in the Florida series, Van Horn told reporters afterward.

The Richmond transfer has been Arkansas’ primary starting third baseman this year, but hasn’t started since last Tuesday against Texas Tech because of a back injury. He did enter as a defensive replacement late in two of the games at South Carolina, though.

He struggled a bit offensively to start SEC play, but was starting to come on strong at the time of his injury. In the Ole Miss and Alabama series, Sprague-Lott went 8 for 20 (.400) with two doubles, three home runs, six RBIs, five walks, a HBP and six runs.

The update on left-hander Hunter Dietz was less encouraging. The heralded freshman left his last appearance — April 9 against San Jose State — with the trainer and Van Horn told reporters he’d have an MRI.

He didn’t have a definitive diagnosis, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be pitching again any time soon.

“I don’t see that happening right now. We don’t know exactly what’s going on but he won’t be on the roster this weekend. Hopefully, we’ll know something shortly.” 

Dietz missed the first chunk of the season as he recovered from a procedure to repair a stress fracture in his throwing elbow, but figured to be a key part of Arkansas’ bullpen upon his return. Instead, he’s made just two appearances, allowing one hit and two walks with two strikeouts in 1 scoreless inning.

Up Next for Arkansas Baseball

The Razorbacks will put their 25-game home winning streak on the line this weekend when they welcome Florida to Baum-Walker Stadium for a three-game series beginning Friday.

It has been a disappointing season for the Gators to this point, as they improved to just 21-19 with a midweek run-rule win over Stetson on Tuesday. Included in that record is an 8-10 SEC mark, which is good for sixth in the SEC East.

Since opening conference play with series wins over Texas A&M, LSU and Mississippi State, Florida has been swept by Missouri and lost two of three against South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

The Gators are led by two-way sensation Jac Caglianone, who homered twice Tuesday to give him 25 for the the year — one shy of Georgia’s Charlie Condon for the SEC and NCAA lead. He is also hitting .410 and has a 3.86 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings as part of Florida’s weekend rotation.

First pitch of Game 1 is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT on SEC Network, with the second game also nationally televised on ESPN2 at noon CT Saturday. The finale is set for 2 p.m. CT Sunday on SEC Network-Plus.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature may be a problem this weekend, with severe weather chances all three days that could impact those start times.

Other Arkansas Baseball Tidbits

  • The announced attendance for Arkansas vs UAPB at Dickey-Stephens Park was 9,293. That is just slightly lower than the 13-game average of 9,332 fans at Arkansas baseball games in North Little Rock since 2010.

  • With the win, the Razorbacks improved to 32-0 all-time against teams in the SWAC. They’ve won those games by an average margin of 9.7 runs. That includes a 6-0 mark against UAPB, with five of those wins being seven-inning run-rule victories.

  • Arkansas has now won eight games via run-rule this season, including three of its four games against in-state opponents. It beat Little Rock 11-0 and Arkansas State 13-0, both in seven innings, but had to hang on for a 9-7 win over UCA.

  • Three of UAPB’s seven hits didn’t even leave the infield. That includes a first-inning pop up by Jalyn Williams that should have been caught, but fell behind the mound for a single.

  • UAPB starting pitcher Jordan Jones is the older brother of Arkansas outfielder Jayson Jones. He pitched well, allowing only one run on three hits and one walk in three innings.

  • Freshman Ryder Helfrick got the start behind the plate and allowed a passed ball, but he also threw out a pair of runners trying to steal second. He’s now thrown out 5 of 8 potential base stealers this season. Hudson White has thrown out just 2 of 17 and Parker Rowland hasn’t thrown out a single one in 8 attempts.

  • UAPB catcher Edwin Delacruz came into the game hitting .444, which ranked second nationally behind only Georgia’s Charlie Condon (.483). He went just 1 for 3 with a strikeout on Tuesday.

  • With another two against the Golden Lions, Ben McLaughlin has now drawn a team-high 37 walks — 11 more than the second-most (Kendall Diggs, 26). He’ll crack the UA’s single-season top-10 list if he can draw just 11 more this season, which seems likely because there are 14 regular-season games left on the schedule, not to mention the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. McLaughlin also reached on a nine-pitch HBP on Tuesday — marking just the third time he’s been plunked this year.

Arkansas Baseball at Dickey-Stephens Park

Here’s a history of Arkansas baseball games played at Dickey-Stephens Park, which opened in 2007. The Razorbacks have played a game there annually since 2010, with the exception of the 2020 and 2021 seasons impacted by the pandemic.

2010Louisiana TechW, 5-4 (10 inn.)10,200
2011MemphisW, 7-210,062
2012Louisiana TechW, 6-5 (10 inn.)10,512
2013Mississippi Valley StateW, 2-19,285
2014Mississippi Valley StateW, 3-08,867
2015MemphisL, 5-47,929
2016Louisiana-MonroeW, 3-17,327
2017MemphisW, 2-08,974
2018Grambling StateW, 7-68,719
2019Grambling StateW, 17-310,463
2022UCAW, 2-1 (10 inn.)10,333
2023LipscombL, 8-6 (11 inn.)9,346
2024UAPBW, 11-1 (7 inn.)9,293

Arkansas vs UAPB Highlights

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Postgame Interviews

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Arkansas vs UAPB Box Score


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