FAYETTEVILLE — As it begins a three-game series against Eastern Illinois, the Arkansas baseball team will be without starting second baseman Peyton Stovall.
The preseason All-SEC selection is out of the lineup because of a bruised thumb, according to a UA spokesperson. He suffered the injury sliding into second on a stolen base in the third inning of Tuesday’s win over Grambling.
Although he remained in that game, Stovall is getting the day off in Friday’s series opener. He’s replaced by newcomer Peyton Holt, a Greenwood native who transferred in from Crowder C.C. It’s his third appearance, but first start. He actually notched an RBI single off the bench against Oklahoma State.
No more information regarding Stovall’s injury is known, but head coach Dave Van Horn will likely provide an update in his postgame interview. This is the second time he’s been held out of the lineup because of an injury during his career, as he also missed several games with a finger injury.
Best of Arkansas Sports is in the building and will provide updates from the first Arkansas vs Eastern Illinois matchup below…
LIVE UPDATES — Arkansas vs Eastern Illinois
In addition to Peyton Stovall being out with an injury, backup shortstop Harold Coll is also unavailable for today’s game, per a UA spokesperson. In warmups, freshman Jayson Jones got reps at shortstop.
The two third basemen were Brady Slavens, who will start at the position for the first time at Arkansas after playing it in JUCO, and Caleb Cali. JUCO transfer Ben McLaughlin is getting the nod at first base.
T-1st: Arkansas 0, Eastern Illinois 0
Smith opened the game with a strikeout, but then Ignoffo singled through the right side and Gober drew a walk. However, Smith got through it by getting Rucker to fly out to left and striking out Zalewski. EIU made him work, as two of the batters worked the count full. He threw 22 total pitches.
B-1st: Arkansas 0, Eastern Illinois 0
Malatestinic made quick work of the Razorbacks, needing only 13 pitches to retire them in order. He got Josenberger to ground out to first, Diggs to fly out to right and Wegner to look at strike three.
T-2nd: Arkansas 0, Eastern Illinois 0
The second was a much cleaner inning for Smith, as he set Eastern Illinois down 1-2-3. Lashure grounded out and then Worcester and Taul struck out. The latter of those came after he fouled off three full-count pitches. He’s up to 39 pitches through two innings.
B-2nd: Arkansas 0, Eastern Illinois 0
The game plan against Malatestinic is clearly to attack him early, as six of the first seven Razorbacks swung at the first strike they saw. It’s resulted in some quick outs, including a second-pitch ground out by Slavens to start the second. Bohrofen also put the second pitch he saw in play, lining a single into center.
McLaughlin worked the count full and hit a chopper up the middle that the second baseman might have had a chance to turn to on, but it bounced past him and into center. The E4 put runners on the corners with one out. However, Holt followed with a first-pitch grounder to second and this time, DiLuca turned the 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
T-3rd: Arkansas 0, Eastern Illinois 0
Eastern Illinois opened the third inning with back-to-back ground outs before a two-out single by Ignoffo, who is now 2 for 2 after going 1 for 9 last weekend. He stole second, but was stranded there. Gober battled and fouled off several pitches before popping out to second. Smith is up to 57 pitches through three innings.
B-3rd: Arkansas 6, Eastern Illinois 0
Arkansas resorted to some small ball in the third. After Polk was plunked on the first pitch of the inning, Bolton and Josenberger bunted for hits on the first pitch they saw. So three pitches into the inning, the bases are loaded, prompting a visit from EIU’s pitching coach.
Diggs drove in the first run by drawing a bases-loaded walk. With a full count, Wegner added to his team-leading RBI total by hitting a single into left-center. It drove in two and Diggs went first to third on the play. Slavens followed by going the other way for an RBI single. Wegner slid in safely on another first to third move and Slavens to second on the throw.
After a walk by Bohrofen, McLaughlin grounded into a 3-6-1 double play that score a run and Holt came through with an RBI single. That was it, though, as Polk flied out to deep right-center.
T-4th: Arkansas 6, Eastern Illinois 0
After striking out Rucker on three pitches, Smith walked Zalewski on four. Lashure worked the count full before grounding into a fielder’s choice on which Arkansas got the force at second. Worcester hit a chopper up the middle and Holt made a nice play on it to get the final out. It was another 17-pitch inning for Smith, who’s now up to 74 pitches.
B-4th: Arkansas 6, Eastern Illinois 0
The Panthers went to their bullpen in the fourth inning and right-hander Nick Laxner shut Arkansas down. Left fielder Cole Gober made a great play to rob Bolton of extra bases and then Laxner struck out Josenberger and Diggs.
T-5th: Arkansas 6, Eastern Illinois 0
Smith got Taul to fly out to right and DiLuca to look at strike three. Riley followed with a two-out double to the left-center gap, bringing Ignoffo to the plate. Ignoffo battled and drew a full-count walk, ending Smith’s day at 97 pitches. Right-hander Cody Adcock comes in to pitch.
Gober worked the count full and hit a chopper in the infield that Slavens couldn’t get to, so it goes down as an infield single to load the bases. Adcock got out of it by striking out Rucker.
B-5th: Arkansas 7, Eastern Illinois 0
After a Wegner strike out, Slavens singled through the right side and Bohrofen nearly drove him in with a towering home run, but it went just foul. On the next pitch, Slavens stole second. The call of safe stood after a review. Bohrofen ended up drawing a walk. McLaughlin also hit a deep fly that went foul before flying out to left. With two outs, Holt delivered an RBI single to make it 7-0. That was it for Arkansas because Taul made a nice play on a grounder to third by Polk for the final out.
T-6th: Arkansas 7, Eastern Illinois 2
Right-hander Austin Ledbetter was next out of the pen, but it didn’t go well for the sophomore. He plunked Zalewski to start the inning and Lashure followed with a double to right. Worcester drove in EIU’s first run with an RBI single through the left side. Pinch hitter Jared Evans struck out for the first out. DiLuca followed with a fly out to center, but it was deep enough to bring in another run. Riley gave it a ride, but Josenberger easily tracked it down for the third out.
B-6th: Arkansas 7, Eastern Illinois 2
Bolton was robbed in his last at bat, but was rewarded with an infield single to start the sixth. Josenberger gave it a ride in the next AB, but it was caught on the warning track in right. It looked like Diggs might also have a single, but the second baseman made a tremendous diving stop and got him at first. With a runner on second, Wegner flied out to left to end the inning.
T-7th: Arkansas 7, Eastern Illinois 2
Freshman right-hander Gage Wood enters to pitch the seventh inning. He promptly plunked Ignoffo – who has now reached all four times – but got Gober to line out to left before striking out Rucker and Zalewski.
B-7th: Arkansas 13, Eastern Illinois 2
Slavens struck out to start the seventh, but then things went downhill for Eastern Illinois. Bohrofen was hit by a pitch, prompting a pitching change, but the freshman lefty, Jack Potteiger, struggled. He walked Caleb Cali, who pinch hit for McLaughlin, and then Holt hit a sharp grounder to third that the new third baseman – Ja’Lil Akbar – couldn’t handle it. It went into left for an E5 that scored a run.
After that, a wild pitch brought in another run and Potteiger walked Polk, ending his day. The new pitcher, right-hander Tarron Lawson, threw a wild pitch, which set up another run when Bolton reached on another error by Akbar. After a single by Josenberger, Diggs ended it with a three-run homer to center.
FINAL: Arkansas 13, Eastern Illinois 2 (7 innings)
BOX SCORE – Arkansas vs Eastern Illinois
Starting Lineups — Arkansas vs Eastern Illinois
|Eastern Illinois Baseball||Arkansas Baseball|
|1. Lincoln Riley – CF||1. Tavian Josenberger – CF|
|2. Ryan Ignoffo – RF||2. Kendall Diggs – DH|
|3. Cole Gober – LF||3. Jared Wegner – LF|
|4. Nicholas Rucker – 1B||4. Brady Slavens – 3B|
|5. Cade Zalewski – DH||5. Jace Bohrofen – RF|
|6. Grant Lashure – C||6. Ben McLaughlin – 1B|
|7. Chris Worcester – SS||7. Peyton Holt – 2B|
|8. Robby Taul – 3B||8. Hudson Polk – C|
|9. Lucas DiLuca – 2B||9. John Bolton – SS|
|Pitching: S-Sr. RHP Blake Malatestinic||Pitching: So. LHP Hagen Smith|
Arkansas Baseball Schedule This Week
Tuesday — Arkansas 9, Grambling 7
Friday — vs Eastern Illinois — 2 p.m. CT (SECN+)
Saturday — vs Eastern Illinois — Noon CT (SECN+)
Sunday — vs Eastern Illinois — 1 p.m. CT (SECN+)
Accountability Check — 2023 Arkansas Baseball Predictions
Best of Arkansas Sports managing editor Andrew Hutchinson published his week-by-week predictions for the 2023 season just before the Razorbacks opened the year at the College Baseball Showdown. Those predictions can be read in full here, but we’ll also be doing weekly “accountability checks” in this space.
Prediction: 1-0 midweek / 2-2 on the season
The home opener isn’t until the following Tuesday, when Grambling comes to town for a single midweek matchup. The Razorbacks should rather easily get back to .500 — they have never lost to a team from the SWAC and it’s usually a blowout.
Actual: 1-0 midweek / 3-1 on the season
It was a lot closer than many expected, but Arkansas eventually beat Grambling and avoided a massive upset.
More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…