FAYETTEVILLE — For the first time in more than nine months, the Arkansas baseball team will be treated to a game inside the friendly confines of Baum-Walker Stadium.
Since dropping a rubber match against Vanderbilt on May 15, the Razorbacks have played 19 games in five different states, making a run to the College World Series semifinals in the process.
The 282-day absence will end with a midweek matchup against Grambling at 3 p.m. CT Tuesday. The game will be streamed on SEC Network-Plus and Best of Arkansas Sports will be there to provide live updates for those unable to get away from work or watch online.
It will mark the start of another lengthy streak, as it’s the first game of an 18-game homestand — Arkansas’ longest since 1982, when Dave Van Horn was a second baseman for the Razorbacks.
The last time the Razorbacks’ home opener was a midweek game was 2003, when they beat Creighton 9-5 on a Tuesday in Van Horn’s first game as head coach.
Arkansas opened the 2023 season in Arlington, Texas, for the College Baseball Showdown, where it sandwiched wins over Texas and Oklahoma State around a loss to TCU. Click here to read our takeaways from the weekend, which included the Razorbacks’ “rental players” delivering and a position battle we’re watching moving forward.
LIVE UPDATES — Arkansas vs Grambling
In somewhat of a surprise move, Arkansas will start freshman Ben Bybee against Grambling. He made his debut over the weekend when he was the last pitcher out of the bullpen in the ugly loss to TCU. In that game, the 6-foot-6, 235-pound right-hander inherited a bases-loaded jam and plunked the first batter he faced with his first collegiate pitch. He bounced back by striking out the next batter to end the inning.
Grambling is countering with sixth-year super senior Jacorey Boudreaux. The left-hander began his career at Jackson State, transferred to UTSA and is now back in the SWAC. Last season, he posted a 7.19 ERA and 1.78 WHIP with 67 strikeouts and 55 walks in 71 1/3 innings for the Tigers. That includes a start against the Razorbacks in which he lasted only one inning and gave up three runs (two earned) on two hits and two walks while striking out two.
It’s worth noting that in the two games against Arkansas last year, Grambling used 13 different pitchers in 16 total innings. The Razorbacks won those games 14-1 and 13-3, both in eight innings.
Arkansas is using the same starting lineup as it used in its final game at the College Baseball Showdown. That includes freshman Jayson Jones at third base (over Caleb Cali) and Parker Rowland (over Hudson Polk).
The 10-run mercy rule is in effect. That means if either team leads by 10 through seven innings, the game will end.
T-1st: Grambling 2, Arkansas 0
It was a less-than-ideal start for Bybee, as he walked Burrell to start the game and then gave up a two-run homer to Hatton. It could have been worse, but Walker swung at ball four for a strikeout sandwiched between those at bats.
Bufford followed with a slow grounder to third, which Jones and Slavens combined to make a nice play on. Jones fielded it cleanly, but his throw took Slavens off the bag, so he had to tag the runner for the second out. After a walk by Mack, Murphy hit a chopper to short and Bolton made the play to end the inning.
B-1st: Grambling 2, Arkansas 0
To say Boudreaux is not a flamethrower would be an understatement. His first two pitches were 72 and 67 mph. He ended up walking Josenberger to start the game and then plunked Stovall on a 69 mph pitch.
However, he struck out Wegner – who chased a pitch out of the zone – and then, after a double steal, Slavens lined out the other way. Making matters worse, Stovall took off and apparently didn’t get a good read on the ball. He was all the way at third when he realized he messed up, so Grambling doubled him up to end the inning.
T-2nd: Grambling 2, Arkansas 0
Bybee bounced back with a much better second inning. He struck out Ware and Frederick before allowing a two-out single up the middle to Vargas, the 9-hole hitter. Burrell made solid contact, but Arkansas was positioned well and Bohrofen caught the line drive for the final out.
B-2nd: Grambling 2, Arkansas 0
It looked like Diggs had a leadoff single, but it hung in the air just long enough for Burrell to slide under it for a really nice catch in center. In the next at bat, Bohrofen was caught looking. Jones drew a two-out walk – his fourth in a span of six plate appearances – and Rowland followed with a deep fly out to center. That stranded Jones on second because he stole second despite nearly being picked off.
T-3rd: Grambling 3, Arkansas 0
The new pitcher for Arkansas is left-hander Zack Morris. The first batter he faced, Walker, lined a leadoff single into right. He struck out Hatton, but then balked to move the runner to second. That set up Bufford’s RBI single to make it 3-0.
After Mack was called out on strikes, Grambling dialed up a perfectly executed hit-and-run. Murphy singled through the right side, hitting it right where Stovall had left to cover the bag. That puts runners on the corners. Morris stranded them there by getting Ware to hit a soft liner to right that Bohrofen rather easily caught for the final out.
B-3rd: Grambling 3, Arkansas 1
After a ground out by Bolton to start the inning, Josenberger drew a walk and then went first to third on a single by Stovall. That set up a sacrifice fly by Wegner to get Arkansas on the board. During Slavens’ at bat, Stovall got caught between first and second on a pickoff and looked dead to rights, but Grambling missed the tag and he was able to slide safely into second, getting back after originally coming off the bag. The call stood after a replay review, but Stovall appeared to maybe hurt his thumb on the slide. It didn’t matter, though, because Slavens struck out to strand him.
T-4th: Grambling 6, Arkansas 1
Frederick reached on a leadoff single, moved to second on a sac bunt by Vargas and then advanced to third on a ground out by Burrell. Walker then delivered a two-out RBI single to make it 4-1. He stole second and scored on a hit-and-run RBI single by Hatton. That’s it for Morris.
The new pitcher is right-hander Will McEntire, the Razorbacks’ Saturday starter. Hatton stole second and also took third when Rowland’s throw sailed into center for an E2. He then scored easily on Bufford’s single, giving Morris four earned runs. That was all the damage, though, because Arkansas finally threw out a base stealer, with Bolton making a nice play to tag Bufford.
B-4th: Grambling 6, Arkansas 3
Diggs leads off the inning with a little dribbler and is able to beat the throw to first for an infield single. He was ruled out on the field, but the call was overturned via replay. After a wild pitch moved Diggs to second, Bohrofen drove him in with a hit — a single that he stretched into a double. A good throw by the outfielder probably nails him at second, but it wasn’t accurate.
A balk moved Bohrofen to third and, after a pop out by Jones, he scored on Rowland’s ground out to make it 6-3. That was it, as Bolton lined out to right to end the inning.
T-5th: Grambling 7, Arkansas 3
Mack led off the inning with a laser off the wall, but he got just a single out of it. Murphy flied out to right, but then Ware walked to put two on with only one out. Grambling loaded with bases with a single by Frederick that probably should have been fielded by Jones at third. Vargas – the 9 hole – lines a single for an RBI and that’s it for McEntire, who lasted just 2/3 of an inning.
The new pitcher is Nebraska transfer Koty Frank, who inherits a bases-loaded, one-out situation. He immediately induced a grounder up the middle by Burrell and Stovall made a great play to field it, step on second and fire to first to complete the 4-3 double play. Slavens did a nice job to keep his foot on the bag.
B-5th: Grambling 7, Arkansas 5
Grambling makes a pitching change to start the fifth, bringing in side-arm lefty Ethan Bates (not the former Razorback). Josenberger reaches for the third time in three plate appearances by drawing a leadoff walk. Stovall and Wegner followed with back-to-back singles on which the Razorbacks went first to third on. The second of those was also an RBI.
The right fielder nearly robbed Slavens of a hit, but the ball popped out of his glove and resulted in a double. He got an RBI out of it, but Wegner had to hesitate, so he stopped at third. Diggs struck out before Bohrofen walked to load the bases for Jones. The freshman did the one thing he couldn’t do – ground into an inning-ending double play.
T-6th: Grambling 7, Arkansas 5
Frank made quick work of the Tigers by getting a couple of ground outs sandwiched around a strikeout. It’s the first 1-2-3 inning of the day by either team.
B-6th: Grambling 7, Arkansas 6
Arkansas turned a leadoff single by Rowland – the first hit of his Arkansas career – into a run thanks to a RBI double by Josenberger. It was set up by Bolton nearly beating out an infield single, but at least moving Rowland to second. Any big inning was thwarted when Stovall’s line drive went right to the second baseman, who then doubled up Josenberger at second.
T-7th: Grambling 7, Arkansas 6
Frank issued a one-out walk, but then bounced by with back-to-back strikeouts to strand him there, sending the game to the seventh-inning stretch.
B-7th: Grambling 7, Arkansas 7
Walks by Wegner and Diggs sandwiched between a strikeout of Slavens put two runners on and a balk moved them to second and third. That was a big play because Bohrofen followed with a line drive to center, which brought in a run via sacrifice fly, tying the game at 7-7. Ben McLaughlin pinch hit for Jones and grounded out to end the inning, stranding the go-ahead run in scoring position.
T-8th: Grambling 7, Arkansas 7
Right-hander Brady Tygart started the eighth inning and struck out the first two batters he faced before giving up a two-out single to Walker, who is now 3 for 5. A failed pickoff move was so wild that he was able to advance to third on the play. Hatton, who homered earlier, had a chance to give Grambling the lead, but popped out in the infield.
B-8th: Arkansas 9, Grambling 7
After a leadoff walk by Rowland, Van Horn inserted Peyton Holt as a pinch runner. Bolton squared to bunt, but was hit by a pitch. Josenberger also squared to bunt, but a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third. That was huge because Josenberger eventually hit a deep fly ball to center that allowed both runners to advance. The sac fly gave Arkansas its first lead of the night.
Stovall nearly had a hit, but the center fielder made a diving catch to turn it into a sac fly that made it 9-7. Wegner grounded out to end the inning, but now the Razorbacks are three outs away from a win.
T-9th: Arkansas 9, Grambling 7
Bufford led off the inning with a single, but Mack went down swinging for the first out. During the next at bat, Bufford moved to second on a passed ball – which was charged to Hudson Polk, who entered the game as a defensive replacement. Murphy flied out to center and Bufford was able to tag up to third, but there are now two outs. Facing Ware, Tygart struck him out to end the game.
FINAL: Arkansas 9, Grambling 7
BOX SCORE – Arkansas vs Grambling
Starting Lineups — Arkansas vs Grambling
|Grambling Baseball||Arkansas Baseball|
|1. Terry Burrell III – CF||1. Tavian Josenberger – CF|
|2. Kyle Walker – 2B||2. Peyton Stovall – 2B|
|3. Trevor Hatton – LF||3. Jared Wegner – LF|
|4. Cameron Bufford – 3B||4. Brady Slavens – 1B|
|5. Keylon Mack – 1B||5. Kendall Diggs – DH|
|6. Julian Murphy – C||6. Jace Bohrofen – RF|
|7. Trey Ware – DH||7. Jayson Jones – 3B|
|8. Nasir Frederick – RF||8. Parker Rowland – C|
|9. Jose Vargas – SS||9. John Bolton – SS|
|Pitching: S-Sr. LHP Jacorey Boudreaux||Pitching: Fr. RHP Ben Bybee|
Arkansas Baseball Schedule This Week
Tuesday — vs Grambling — 3 p.m. CT (SECN+)
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: 1-2 last week / 1-2 on the season
Much like it did two years ago, the Arkansas baseball team is opening the season away from Baum-Walker Stadium by playing in the College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field. That proved to be the start of a historic season, as the Razorbacks swept a trio of eventual regional hosts on their way to earning the No. 1 overall seed.
However, these early-season tournaments aren’t always an indication of what’s to come. Arkansas went 1-2 at events in Alabama and California in 2015 and 2018, respectively, but still made it to Omaha. In 2016, it won all three games at the Houston College Classic, but missed the postseason completely.
I bring all of that up to say: Don’t panic if the Razorbacks don’t come out of the gates red-hot like they did in 2021. A good chunk of the lineup will be playing their first games in an Arkansas uniform and the pitching staff, while extremely deep, is still trying to sort through everyone’s role.
Actual: 2-1 last week / 2-1 on the season
The Razorbacks actually performed one game better in Arlington than we predicted, so they’re already one game ahead of pace for our 40-15 (19-11) pick.
More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…