Even ESPN’s Streaming Issues Can’t Stop Hogs From Clinching Another SEC West Title

Mason Molina, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs Texas A&M
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Thursday’s showers brought the Arkansas offense plenty of flowers Friday as the No. 3 Razorbacks clinched the SEC West title for the fifth time in six years in a come-from-behind fashion.

A night after being shut out for just the second time this year, the Hogs out-slugged one of the most potent lineups in the country, beating No. 5 Texas A&M 6-3 behind a pair of homers to even the series at Blue Bell Park.

It was a stark contrast to the 11-inning, 1-0 loss to the Aggies in the opener, when Arkansas went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

“Even last night, we had 9 or 10 hits,” Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn said. “We lost to a team that got 6 or 7. We’ve actually out-hit them two days in a row. I thought we hit the ball good last night, we just didn’t get the big hit.”

The difference was noticeable pretty early, as a second-inning RBI single by Peyton Holt snapped a 13-inning scoreless drought for the Razorbacks. Of course, most fans watching from home didn’t actually see the hit.

The Arkansas vs Texas A&M game was scheduled to air on SEC Network, but the softball game in the Columbia Regional went to extra innings. That forced the baseball game to start on SEC Network-Plus. However, ESPN had streaming issues that prevented fans from watching the first few innings.

There was one silver lining, though: Those waiting it out on SEC Network got to watch as No. 7 Missouri was stunned by 4-seed Omaha 3-1 in nine innings.

Back to baseball, here are a few other key takeaways from the Razorbacks’ win over the Aggies…

Role Reversal

Arkansas came into the series with just 70 homers on the season while Texas A&M’s two and three hitters had 51 alone, but it was the Hogs that hit two homers to power their way to victory. First, Wehiwa Aloy hit a game-tying solo homer to left-center, a 401-foot shot for his team best 12th homer of the year. 

Hudson White landed the kill shot with a homer off Aggie reliever Josh Stewart to a similar spot in a 3-3 game in the eighth. Stovall led off the inning with a single up the middle followed by a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third. 

“[Stewart] made a couple of really good pitches to the shortstop [Aloy] but then he left one up,” Texas A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Then you are in a situation where the infield is in, Hudson White is a super experienced player and doesn’t strike out a lot.” 

White – who homered on Opening Day and didn’t again until May 4 – has now hit four homers in his last seven games and seen his slugging percentage jump from .355 from the beginning of the Kentucky series to .467 after he broke out of his homerless streak. 

“It’s been awesome,” White said. “Just been trying to stick to my plan and stick to my routine. Just trying to help the team keep stacking up wins.”

Wood You Believe It? 

Lots of questions were asked going into the weekend about how sophomore Gage Wood was going to handle being thrown into the fire against Texas A&M. Three batters in, it didn’t look too great.

Aggie centerfielder Jace LaViolette reached on Peyton Stovall’s first error of the year in 141 chances and Braden Montgomery immediately rubbed salt in the wound with a two-run homer to make it 2-0 with just one out recorded. 

However, Wood proved he was more than up to par, getting through five innings and allowing just one more run on 86 pitches, saving his best for last, retiring the deadly trio of Gavin Grahovac, LaViolette and Montgomery in order the third time through the lineup. 

“That’s just part of the game sometimes,” Wood said about the error. “I’m not mad at him. He’s been phenomenal all year and then I gave up a home run, which happens sometimes. It really didn’t change anything the rest of the game.”

Coiled to Perfection

After using seven pitchers to Texas A&M’s two in Game 1, Arkansas was desperate for length and quality from anyone in the bullpen. Parker Coil and Mason Molina retired 12 of the 13 batters they faced.

Coil pitched on back-to-back days for just the second time in his Razorback career and set down the Aggies in order on just eight pitches in the sixth. After a leadoff walk to start the seventh, Van Horn summoned Mason Molina for his first appearance out of the bullpen in over two years.

The lefty was removed from the rotation after pitching to the tune of an 11 ERA over his last three starts. Molina awarded his head coach with three perfect innings with two strikeouts. He got the No. 9 hitter Travis Chestnut to fly out to left to clinch the division and even the series, avoiding having to face the top of the lineup a second time. 

“It’s awesome man,” White said about Molina’s performance. “Who knows what it was? It might have been his foot. But I’m just glad that he’s back to his normal self because we are going to need him. It was good to see.”

Up Next for Arkansas Baseball

Right-hander Will McEntire will start Game 3 for Arkansas and will most likely be opposed by left-hander Shane Sdao, although Jim Schlossnagle said after the game that may change because Texas A&M is now locked into a top-4 seed in the SEC Tournament, which guarantees a bye.

First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m Saturday and the game will be broadcast on SEC Network. 

Other Arkansas Baseball Tidbits

  • Wehiwa Aloy’s third-inning homer was just his second away from Baum-Walker Stadium and his first since the opening true road game of the season against Auburn on March 21.
  • Hudson White went 2 for 3 on Friday, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. Over that stretch, he has five multi-hit games and is 15 for 35 (.429) with two doubles, four home runs and 13 RBIs. That’s raised his batting average 50 points to .285.
  • Arkansas was forced to deal with a late starting pitcher change with Brad Rudis getting the ball instead of Justin Lamkin. Rudis was used as an opener and faced the lineup once, allowing one run in 1 2/3 innings of work. before giving way to Lamkin as the bulk pitcher. The decision, according to Schlossnagle, was two-fold, both to change the look and because of the standings in the SEC. “Decided it today after Florida won,” Schlossnagle said. “That put us in the top four of the league, which I feel confident will put us in a good position for the NCAA tournament. I also wanted to change the look to Arkansas a little bit. [Last night’s pitchers Ryan] Prager and [Evan] Aschenbeck, they are different, but they are similar in a lot of ways and then Lamkin was kind of more of the same, so I just wanted for one time through the order, just mix it up a little bit.”

Arkansas vs Texas A&M Highlights (Game 2)

Postgame Interviews

Arkansas vs Texas A&M Box Score (Game 2)

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