Pitching Dominates Arkansas Baseball’s Fall Classic

Fall Classic 2022, Arkansas baseball
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

FAYETTEVILLE — A few thousand fans were treated to a pitching gem by Johnny Wholestaff in Arkansas baseball’s second annual Fall Classic on Friday.

On the eve of a massive football game against Alabama, the Razorbacks opened the doors of Baum-Walker Stadium for a seven-inning intrasquad scrimmage in which the Gray team beat the Red 3-1.

Head coach Dave Van Horn sent 14 different pitchers to the mound for an inning apiece and they combined to allow only four runs on eight hits while striking out 20. Perhaps more impressively, there were no walks — albeit three players were hit by a pitch.

Half of the innings were perfect 1-2-3 frames, while an eighth saw the minimum with the help of a double play.

“It’s kind of interesting — the pitchers got after them tonight and our pitching has been good all fall, but our hitters have done a nice job, too,” Van Horn said. “I split the teams up today. Last few scrimmages, I loaded the team up and the loaded team smoked the other team, so the lineup can wear down pitchers if you have enough guys back-to-back-to-back, but pitching’s been great all fall, honestly.”

The biggest swing of the night came in the bottom of the third when Parker Rowland, a junior college transfer who began his career at Arkansas State, hit a mammoth home run off Brady Tygart. It left his bat at 104 mph and 30.4 degrees, landing on top of the Hunt Center beyond the right field wall — 426 feet away.

However, that proved to be the Red team’s lone hit of the scrimmage.

One of the Gray team’s three runs was a tough-luck earned run for Zack Morris in the top half of the third, as an ill-advised dive by Mason Neville in center field turned Jude Putz’s one-out single into a triple. That set up an RBI ground ball by Easton Swofford.

The other two runs came in the fourth, when Nebraska transfer Koty Frank gave up singles to three of the first four batters he faced — the latter of which was hit by Jace Bohrofen and resulted in two RBIs.

Here is an inning-by-inning breakdown of what happened, followed by a full box score…

T-1st: Gray 0, Red 0

Starting for Red: LHP Hagen Smith

Tavian Josenberger — the Kansas transfer — got things started with a solid at bat. He worked the count full and fouled off a couple pitches before striking out. Hagen Smith then made quick work of JUCO transfer Hunter Grimes for a second strikeout.

It wasn’t until the third batter that someone put the ball in play against Smith. Even then, it was a soft ground ball to second by Kendall Diggs for the third out.

B-1st: Gray 0, Red 0

Starting for Gray: RHP Jaxon Wiggins

Jaxon Wiggins is on the mound for the Gray team and got the home half of the inning started by striking out Isaac Webb, another JUCO transfer. He was fooled by a breaking ball and gave a half-hearted swing for strike three.

The best contact of the night so far was courtesy of Peyton Stovall, as he drove a pitch into right center. However, Josenberger was relatively easily able to track it down. The inning ended when WIggins dotted a 97 mph fastball on the corner for strike three against Caleb Cali. The JUCO transfer watched it, but might have had a case for it being off the plate.

Both starting pitchers — Smith and Wiggins — went one inning apiece, each going three up, three down with two strikeouts.

T-2nd: Gray 0, Red 0

Now pitching: RHP Cody Adcock

Adcock began his career at Ole Miss before playing at a junior college last season, is now on the mound.

Hudson Polk, the Oklahoma transfer, made loud contact to start the inning, but Peyton Holt caught the line drive shy of the wall. Jace Bohrofen followed with his own solidly hit ball and this one found grass for the first hit of the game.

The Gray team couldn’t do anything with it, though, as Tyson Fourkiller followed with a routine double play ground ball to short. It was smooth, going from Harold Coll to Peyton Stovall to Jayson Jones.

B-2nd: Gray 0, Red 0

Now pitching: RHP Will McEntire

Jayson Jones hit a slow roller to third and Kendall Diggs did a nice job of charging it and firing to first for the out. In typical McEntire fashion, he induced another ground ball by Mason Neville before getting Harold Coll to look at strike three that just grazed the bottom of the zone.

T-3rd: Gray 1, Red 0

Now pitching: LHP Zack Morris

Reese Robinett thought he had ball four for a leadoff walk, but Morris dotted the upper-inside corner for strike three. However, Jude Putz followed with a sinking line drive into right-center. Center fielder Mason Neville made an ill-advised diving attempt to catch it and whiffed. That allowed the ball to get to the wall and Putz cruised into third for a triple.

Easton Swofford, the freshman from Bee Branch, drove him home for the first run of the night. It should have been an RBI ground out, but shortstop Harold Coll didn’t field it cleanly and Swofford reached on the error.

John Bolton, the transfer from Austin Peay, followed with a line drive into center and Swofford showed off his speed by going first to third on the play. With runners on the corners, Morris struck out Cal Kilgore for the second out.

Needing another out to limit the damage, Morris got off the rubber quickly on a dribbler in front of the mound and fired a bullet to first to get the speedy Josenberger to strand runners on the corners.

B-3rd: Gray 1, Red 1

Now pitching: RHP Brady Tygart

Parker Rowland, one of three catchers vying for the starting job, led off the third inning with a towering home run off Tygart that landed on top of the Hunt Center beyond the right field wall. It was a 426-foot blast that left the bat with an exit velocity of 104 mph and launch angle of 30.4 degrees.

Tygart then plunked Peyton Holt before striking out Ben McLaughlin. With one out, Holt swiped second and Hudson Polk’s throw down to second was no where close.

The runner in scoring position didn’t seem to bother Tygart, as he broke off a 76 mph curveball that hit the bottom inside corner of the zone for strike three. It was gorgeous. Holt stole third without a throw during Isaac Webb’s at bat, but Webb went down swinging to end the inning.

T-4th: Gray 3, Red 1

Now pitching: RHP Koty Frank

The Gray team jumped on Frank — the Nebraska transfer — quickly. Hunter Grimes, one of the many JUCO transfers, led off the inning with a line drive by the third baseman for a single and then Kendall Diggs hit the very next pitch into left for a single.

Hudson Polk was also first-pitch swinging and made good contact, but Peyton Stovall was in position. It looked like he was going to start a double play, but he didn’t field the ball cleanly. He ended up having to recover and throw to first. He barely got the runner at first on a questionable call for the first out.

The rough inning for Frank continued with Jace Bohrofen hit a single up the middle to drive in both runners, who moved up to second and third on the previous play. He got a little help when Bohrofen took off for second before Frank started his motion, so the right-hander was able to spit and throw him out at second. Good communication by the infield let Frank know about the attempted steal.

Frank followed that with a strikeout of Tyson Fourkiller to end the inning.

B-4th: Gray 3, Red 1

Now pitching: LHP Hunter Hollan

Hollan is the transfer from JUCO powerhouse San Jacinto J.C., where he was the ace of a team that reached the NJCAA World Series.

He got three straight ground outs in his inning of work. Peyton Stovall and Caleb Cali were relatively routine plays, although first baseman Reese Robinett did a nice job of getting to Stovall’s and then taking it to first himself.

The third was hit 106 mph off the bat of Jayson Jones. John Bolton fielded it cleanly and threw to first for the final out of the frame.

T-5th: Gray 3, Red 1

Now pitching: RHP Dylan Carter

Carter began his career at a junior college, but was on the Arkansas roster in 2022 and redshirted this season.

Much like in his first at bat, Robinett took a pitch that he thought was ball four, only for it to be called strike three. This one appeared to actually hit the top of the zone for a legitimate strikeout by Carter.

Rough stretch for Jude Putz, as he was plunked in the back to get on base and then, on a steal of second base, Parker Rowland’s throw hit him in the back as he slid in safely.

On a fly out to center by Easton Swofford, Putz tagged up to third. With two outs and a runner on third, Carter struck out John Bolton on a foul tip back into the glove of Rowland, stranding the runner.

B-5th: Gray 3, Red 1

Now pitching: LHP Parker Coil

Coil made quick work of his inning. After a fly out to center by Mason Neville, Harold Coll and Parker Rowland followed with first pitch line drives. Coll’s was tracked down in right, while Rowland’s was right at the shortstop.

T-6th: Gray 3, Red 1

Now pitching: LHP Nick Griffin

Cal Kilgore worked the count full to start the inning before flying out to right. Following a mound visit by Matt Hobbs, Griffin quickly got ahead of Tavian Josenberger 0-2. However, the Kansas transfer hit the 0-2 pitch into left for a single.

It seemed like Griffin had Josenberger picked off, but first baseman Caleb Cali’s throw to second went into left. It goes down as a stolen base.

After a strikeout of Hunter Grimes, Kendall Diggs hit a line drive that looked like it’d be a two-out RBI single, but Isaac Webb made a diving grab to rob him. It was easily the best play of the night up to that point.

B-6th: Gray 3, Red 1

Now pitching: RHP Austin Ledbetter

A lengthy at bat by Peyton Holt ends with a question strike three call on the outside corner. He thought it was ball four, but it was called a strike — just as it has all scrimmage.

Ben McLaughlin put a good swing on a pitch in the next at bat but left fielder Hunter Grimes didn’t have to move much to catch it. With two outs, Ryan Ward was plunked, but got stranded on first when Isaac Webb grounded out to second.

T-7th: Gray 3, Red 1

Now pitching: RHP Gage Wood

Wood showed off his velocity against Hudson Polk, sitting 93-95 mph in an at bat that ended with Polk looking at strike three. He also struck out Jace Bohrofen, getting him to swing and miss at an off-speed pitch.

The inning ended when Isaac Webb tracked down a fly ball by Tyson Fourkiller in foul territory, catching it right next to the stands.

B-7th: Gray 3, Red 1

Now pitching: RHP Jake Faherty

Faherty’s first pitch of his outing came in at 98 mph for a strike. He sat 98-99 mph during Peyton Stovall’s at bat, but then struck him out looking on an off-speed pitch inside.

The next two at bats went much the same. He was 97-98 mph before Caleb Cali and Jayson Jones took off speed pitches that grazed the outside edge for strike three. It was a perfect inning by Faherty, with all three strikeouts coming on called strikes.

Starting Lineups – Arkansas Baseball Fall Classic

1. Tavian Josenberger – CF1. Isaac Webb – RF
2. Hunter Grimes – LF2. Peyton Stovall – 2B
3. Kendall Diggs – 3B3. Caleb Cali – 3B/1B
4. Hudson Polk – C4. Jayson Jones – 1B/3B
5. Jace Bohrofen – RF5. Mason Neville – CF
6. Tyson Fourkiller – DH6. Harold Coll – SS
7. Reese Robinett – 1B7. Parker Rowland – C
8. Jude Putz – 2B8. Peyton Holt – LF
9. Easton Swofford – DH9. Ben McLaughlin – DH
10. John Bolton – SS10. Ryan Ward – DH
11. Cal Kilgore – DH
P – RHP Jaxon WigginsP – LHP Hagen Smith

Arkansas Baseball Fall Classic Box Score


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