White Ends Up Shirtless After Walk-Off Caps Arkansas’ Wild Game 2 Win vs LSU

Hudson White, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs LSU
photo credit: Craven Whitlow

FAYETTEVILLE — In another classic matchup between the two schools, LSU blinked first and Arkansas made it pay Friday night.

After an error allowed Will Edmunson to reach, Hudson White drove him in with a clutch double that lifted the No. 1 Razorbacks to a 4-3 win over the No. 8 Tigers in the 10th inning at Baum-Walker Stadium.

It was Arkansas’ 16th straight home win, matching its longest such streak since the venue opened in 1996, but more importantly, the win clinched the series and gives the Razorbacks (22-3, 7-1 SEC) a chance to sweep LSU (20-8, 2-6) in the finale.

“As a coach, you sit in the dugout and you try to figure out, ‘How are we going to score a run?’ or ‘How is this going to go?’” Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn said. “And you almost think it’s going to be a mistake, it’s going to be an error.

“We felt really fortunate that we had a runner on first with one out and some guys that were confident coming to the plate. I just felt like White had swung the bat well all night. … I felt good about him getting a hit. I didn’t know he was going to hit a double. But I liked the matchup there.”

The Tigers brought in former starter Thatcher Hurd to pitch the 10th inning. A hero in last year’s College World Series, the right-hander has struggled to the tune of a 7-plus ERA this year, prompting his move to the bullpen.

He got off to a good start, striking out Jared Sprague-Lott, and then induced a ground ball from Edmunson that should have been the second out of the inning. However, shortstop Michael Braswell III charged in and let the ball roll under his glove for an error. That brought White to the plate.

“When I stepped up to the plate, I was just looking for something up and over the plate,” White said. “And that’s what I got. I was able to put a swing on it. Will (Edmunson) is a really good baserunner and he was able to score.”

The first pitch was actually a ball and then White turned on a 1-0 fastball, shooting it down the third base line. LSU third baseman Tommy White made a diving effort on it, but it was hit 103 mph off the bat and he had no chance to get to it.

“White was playing on the line, but it was hit so hard, and it was right down the line,” Van Horn said. “He’d had to have been standing on the bag almost to make that play.”

The ball got all the way to the wall, which allowed Edmunson to race all the way around from first base — especially when left fielder Ashton Larson briefly bobbled it.

“Edmunson kind of goes unseen, but he did a great job turning up the base,” Van Horn said. “I mean, he hit that base and he didn’t get wide at all. He made the cut. We’ve been talking about that and working on that.”

The exciting finish set off a wild celebration, with White having his jersey ripped off and eventually having water dumped on him during a postgame interview.

Chasing Holman Early

After throwing 104 pitches the previous week against Florida, LSU opted to keep ace Luke Holman on Friday instead of moving him up to Game 1 for a showdown with Hagen Smith.

Whether you believe that was truly Jay Johnson’s reasoning or that he intentionally pitched off to avoid burning the Tigers’ best pitcher against Smith, it backfired because Holman didn’t even make it through the fifth against the Razorbacks.

Arkansas got 10 runners on base against the right-hander, finishing with five hits and five walks, while scoring three earned runs and striking out five times. It took Holman 98 pitches to get through 4 1/3 innings and that included a quick 11-pitch first inning.

“One of our goals tonight was to get his pitch count up, and we did a good job,” Van Horn said. “After the first inning, it didn’t look like it was going to happen, but after that we fouled a lot off. He got wild. Gave us a couple of four-pitch walks. Kind of unusual.”

Coming into the game, Holman was statistically one of the best pitchers in the country. In addition to an 0.78 ERA, the Alabama transfer was holding opponents to a .157 batting average with 56 strikeouts to only eight walks in 34 2/3 innings.

“He’s really talented, really quick feet,” Van Horn said. “He’s hard to run on. He controls the game, manages the game. He’s going to pitch for a long time, but we had some success tonight because we fouled off a lot of pitches. We took our walks and got his pitch count up, but you could see why he’s probably their No. 1 pitcher.”

For the most part, Holman actually pitched out of jams. He stranded five runners on base the first three innings before Arkansas finally broke through in the fourth.

Trailing 2-0, the Razorbacks got on the board with an RBI double by Ty Wilmsmeyer and tied it up with an RBI ground out by Peyton Stovall. It was an RBI double by Ben McLaughlin that put them up 3-2.

“Wilmsmeyer’s double over the first baseman, that was just a great piece of hitting because he had taken a couple of swings that weren’t real good,” Van Horn said. “It didn’t look like he was going to get the barrel to the ball like he did. That was a big swing for us because we were down a couple of runs at the time, and next thing you know, we climb back in it, and there we go.”

Another Arm Emerges

The Razorbacks were still clinging to that 3-2 lead when they tried to squeeze an extra inning out of Mason Molina in the sixth. However, it didn’t go well. A hit by pitch, walk and infield single loaded the bases with no outs and LSU was threatening to not only tie it up, but do some serious damage.

At that point, Van Horn called on right-hander Christian Foutch out of the bullpen. It was just his fifth appearance of the season and first in a high-leverage spot. Based on what he did against the Tigers, it won’t be his last.

Showcasing a fastball that was consistently 98-99 mph and had some sink because of his new grip, as well as a splitter, Foutch limited the Tigers to only one run. That came on a sacrifice fly by Ashton Larson and then he got Steven Milam to ground into a double play.

Back out in the seventh, the Colorado native needed just six pitches to retire the top of LSU’s lineup in order. He retired all five batters he faced in two scoreless innings of relief.

“It was really good to see, because we need him,” Van Horn said. “He’s a tough kid. He’s going to throw 101 one day. It might be next week. But he’s got a really good arm. Bright future. We needed to get him in a game like this and have him have success and that’s going to really boost his confidence, and obviously we’re going to gain confidence in him.”

Gaeckle Bounces Back

Last week against Auburn, freshman Gabe Gaeckle closed out the series opener with a one-inning save and then was called on again in Game 3. It was the first time the right-hander had pitched twice in a weekend and it didn’t go well.

The Tigers immediately hit a double and drew back-to-back walks, the latter of which came with the bases loaded, and rallied from a four-run deficit to salvage their final game against the Razorbacks. Gaeckle failed to record an out and was credited with the loss.

It was the first time the freshman had truly struggled this season, but he didn’t seem to have any lingering effects from the outing when he took the mound Friday against LSU.

“You’re going to have a rough outing every now and then,” Gaeckle said. “It was more about just forgetting about it and getting ready for the next game. Going into it, I just tried to have the same game plan. Just focus on the zone and attack the hitters.”

Despite getting hot and not pitching late in Game 1, Gaeckle looked sharp against the Tigers. He retired eight of the 10 batters he faced in 2 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out three and giving up a pair of singles.

It was tied for the longest outing of his young career, as he also threw 2 2/3 innings against Oklahoma State and McNeese State, but he did throw a career-high 48 pitches. His previous high was 39 against the Cowboys in Arlington.

“Came close to getting a couple more strikeouts, but give LSU credit, they put the bat on the ball,” Van Horn said. “He made some pitches that I guess were just off the plate to his glove side. But I like the way he was commanding his fastball. Mixed in a few breaking balls. Just did a tremendous job.”

Assessing Molina’s Start

For just the second time this season, Mason Molina pitched into the sixth inning Friday night. Unlike in the Missouri game, when he threw a season-high 5 1/3 innings, though, the left-hander failed to record an out in the sixth.

Afterward, Van Horn described Molina’s outing as not his best, but still pretty good, as he was charged with three earned runs on seven hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in five innings. He also hit a batter.

“They do a really good job staying in with their approach,” Molina said. “They will hit any of your mistakes. Definitely one of my tougher outings but I feel like controlled the zone pretty well and we were after hitters in the right way. That’s really all you can ask for.”

The Texas Tech transfer was one pitch away from getting out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam unscathed in the third, but after he struck out Hayden Travinski, Josh Pearson hit his 1-2 pitch into left for a two-run single.

Molina bounced back to strike out Ethan Frey and then mowed down the Tigers with a perfect fourth inning on just 11 pitches. He gave up a two-out single in the fifth, but that was it, which gave the Razorbacks reason to send him back out in the sixth despite a growing pitch count.

That’s when he loaded the bases with no outs and without a ball leaving the infield.

“I thought he was pretty good early,” Van Horn said. “It almost seemed like the fifth inning was his best inning and we tried to squeeze another inning out of him but all of a sudden it was over. He was wild, walked the first two hitters, but I thought he threw the ball pretty good.”

One of those runners came in to score on a sacrifice fly against Christian Foutch, which was charged to Molina, but that was it.

Up Next for Arkansas Baseball

The Razorbacks will be going for the sweep when they take on LSU at 2 p.m. CT Saturday. The game will be streamed online on SEC Network-Plus.

Right-hander Brady Tygart (3-0, 1.59 ERA) is set to start for Arkansas, while the Tigers will counter with left-hander Gage Jump (2-0, 2.38 ERA).

Other Arkansas Baseball Tidbits

  • The announced attendance for Game 2 of the Arkansas vs LSU series was 11,156, making it the largest home crowd of the year for the Razorbacks.
  • Left-hander Stone Hewlett was once again called upon to face a lefty and he struck out Josh Pearson. Because it was the final out recorded by Arkansas pitchers, he earned the win. He notched a one-out save with a strikeout in Game 1. The Kansas transfer now has 14 strikeouts in six innings, with at least one in each of his 11 appearances.
  • Perhaps no one played a better and more complete game Friday night than Peyton Stovall. Not only did he go 3 for 5 with a couple of doubles an RBI, but the junior from Louisiana made a couple of sensational defensive plays at second base, too. “The more you get to watch him play, you’re getting to see the real Peyton Stovall that you didn’t get to see last year because he had a messed up shoulder,” Van Horn said.

Game 2 Highlights

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Postgame Interviews

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Arkansas vs LSU Box Score (Game 2)


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