FAYETTEVILLE — To see the first game of the Arkansas vs Louisiana Tech series, fans will have to actually be at Baum-Walker Stadium.
With a home softball game and gymnastics meet on Friday, the Razorbacks won’t be able to stream Game 1 of their three-game series against the Bulldogs on SEC Network-Plus like it has their other non-conference games so far this year.
The softball team opens up SEC play against Texas A&M at 6 p.m. and there are replay requirements that come along with it being a conference game. The gymnastics team is hosting Minnesota in its regular-season finale at 6:45 p.m. CT. Both of those events will be streamed online.
Because ESPN owns the rights to all home events for Arkansas, the baseball game can’t be picked up by another station or streaming service, hence the no options to watch Friday’s game.
However, the Arkansas baseball game will still be on the airwaves with Phil Elson and Bubba Carpenter on the call. It can be heard through the official Arkansas Razorback app, locally in Fayetteville on 92.1 FM or on any of the other radio affiliates across the state.
For those unable to tune in, Best of Arkansas Sports will be at Baum-Walker Stadium and providing live, inning-by-inning updates from the Arkansas vs Louisiana Tech series opener below.
LIVE UPDATES — Arkansas vs Louisiana Tech
Both teams will be starting their ace left-hander Friday afternoon. For Arkansas, that means sophomore Hagen Smith, who has an impressive 0.63 ERA in 14 1/3 innings across his first three starts this season.
For Louisiana Tech, veteran Jonathan Fincher will get the ball. He is a sixth-year super senior with a career 3.11 ERA in 254 2/3 innings. That includes a solid 2.84 ERA in 19 innings this year. Fincher was also the Friday night guy two years ago when these teams met in Ruston, La., and he gave up four runs — three earned — on five hits and two walks while striking out eight in six innings.
The Bulldogs were picked as the preseason favorite to win the 10-team C-USA, which has traditionally been a very solid baseball conference with multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament.
Ethan Bates, a former Arkansas player from Hot Springs, is batting fifth and starting at third for Louisiana Tech.
T-1st: Arkansas 0, Louisiana Tech 0
As he has his last couple times out, Smith struggled with his command in the first inning. He issued a leadoff walk to Drost, but then got Hogart to ground into a 6-4-3 double play on one pitch. Davis followed by also working the count full and drawing a two-out walk after fouling off a couple of pitches. But Smith got out of it by striking out Corona on his 20th pitch.
B-1st: Arkansas 0, Louisiana Tech 0
Josenberger swung at the first pitch of the inning and hit a single into right-center. Stovall also swung at the first pitch, but lined out to left. During Wegner’s at bat, Louisiana Tech caught Josenberger leaning and caught him stealing 1-3-6-3 in the run down. Josenberger then hit a soft line drive off the pitcher, but Fincher recovered and tossed to first for the final out. It was a 7-pitch inning.
T-2nd: Arkansas 0, Louisiana Tech 0
Just like in the first, Louisiana Tech drew a walk to start the inning – this time by Bates. Also just like in the first, the next batter was retired on one pitch. Instead of a double play, though, Miles flied out to left. Smith then got Burchfield to fly out to center and struck out Evans. That was just a 15-pitch inning, bringing him to 35 for the game.
B-2nd: Arkansas 4, Louisiana Tech 0
Slavens started the bottom of the second by crushing a pitch 108 mph off the bat. It was a line drive just over a leaping second baseman for a leadoff single. Bohrofen followed with a towering two-run home run that looked like it might be a fly out, but it just kept carrying and hit the building in right. The ball had a launch angle of 39.5 degrees and exit velocity of 103 mph, helping it travel 351 feet.
Cali reached when Bates booted a ground ball at third, but was promptly erased when he easily got caught stealing. However, it might have prevented Louisiana Tech from turning a double play on a grounder up the middle by Diggs. Instead of getting two outs, the shortstop couldn’t get to the ball in time to make a play and it resulted in an infield single. Arkansas made him pay, as Rowland hit another towering ball that just kept carrying. It was a 404-foot blast that just barely got over the wall in center. It left the bat with an exit velocity of 102 mph and launch angle of 25.4 degrees.
Bolton followed with a walk and Josenberger hit a low line drive that Bates nearly caught on a dive, but didn’t, so it was an infield single. However, Stovall and Wegner flied out to end the inning after 34 pitches by Fincher.
T-3rd: Arkansas 4, Louisiana Tech 0
Smith started the third with back-to-back strikeouts of McLeod and Drost, but then issued a two-out walk of Hogart – his fourth free pass of the game. That was it for Louisiana Tech, though, as Davis grounded into a fielder’s choice. Bolton got the easy out by tossing to second. Smith is up to 53 pitches.
B-3rd: Arkansas 5, Louisiana Tech 0
Slavens and Cali drew walks sandwiched around a nice opposite-field single by Bohrofen to load the bases with no outs. Diggs followed with what looked like it could be a double play ball, but it wasn’t hit quite hard enough and he was able to beat the relay to first to make it an RBI fielder’s choice.
With runners on the corners, Rowland failed to extended the lead by grounding into an inning-ending 6-3 double play.
T-4th: Arkansas 5, Louisiana Tech 0
Corona flied out to right, Bates grounded out to third on a check swing and Miles went down swinging, giving Smith his first 1-2-3 inning of the day. It required only 11 pitches, bringing him to 64 for the game. He’s got five strikeouts in four innings.
B-4th: Arkansas 5, Louisiana Tech 0
Arkansas also went down 1-2-3 in the fourth. Bolton and Stovall looked at strike three, sandwiched around a fly out to center by Josenberger. Despite going 3 up, 3 down, Fincher still threw 19 pitches. He’s up to 87 through four innings.
T-5th: Arkansas 5, Louisiana Tech 2
Smith struck out Burchfield to start the fifth, but Evans followed with a double to right-center to break up the no-hit bid. McLeod then hit a grounder between third and short that Bolton got to, but had no play on. It goes down as an infield single. Drost also hit a solid single into right, but actually hit it hard enough that the runner had to hold up at third.
With the bases loaded, Hogart looked at strike three for the second out of the inning. In a 1-2 count, Davis broke up the shutout by lining a two-run single into right. That was all the damage, though, as Smith got Corona to ground into a fielder’s choice.
B-5th: Arkansas 6, Louisiana Tech 2
The new pitcher for Louisiana Tech is right-hander Nick Fraginals. He promptly gave up a line drive single into center to Wegner. Stovall followed by popping out to third on one pitch, but Bohrofen was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second for Cali, who was also hit by a pitch after a balk had moved the runners to second and third.
With the bases loaded, Diggs flied out to deep left for a sacrifice fly to make it 6-2. Rowland walked to load the bases again and Louisiana Tech makes a pitching change. The new pitcher is right-hander Justin Williams. He got Bolton to ground out on one pitch, stranding the bases loaded.
T-6th: Arkansas 6, Louisiana Tech 4
The new pitcher for Arkansas is right-hander Cody Adcock. He struck out Bates and Miles to start his outing, but then gave up a two-out single to Burchfield and Evans followed with a 398-foot bomb to left, cutting the Hogs’ lead to 6-4. McLeod grounded out to short to end the inning, but it had a 100 mph exit velocity.
B-6th: Arkansas 6, Louisiana Tech 4
The Razorbacks started the sixth with a leadoff walk by Josenberger and opposite-field single by Stovall. Back-to-back strikeouts of Wegner and Slavens got Williams back on track, though. He walked Bohrofen to load the bases, but that might have been for the best, as Cali grounded into a fielder’s choice.
That makes Arkansas 0 for 3 with just two RBIs in four plate appearances with the bases loaded today.
T-7th: Arkansas 6, Louisiana Tech 4
Adcock put the first two runners on base, walking Drost and giving up a hard single to Hogart, and that’s it for him. Arkansas turns it over to Dylan Carter with the tying runs on base and the right-hander retired Louisiana Tech in order. Davis lined out to center, Corona flied out to right and Bates hit a sharp grounder down the first base line, which Slavens snagged and tossed to Carter covering the bag to end the inning.
B-7th: Arkansas 7, Louisiana Tech 4
A leadoff single by Diggs got things started in the home half of the seventh and Rowland moved him to second on a sacrifice bunt. However, it didn’t really matter because Bolton and Josenberger walked to load the bases. Once again, the Razorbacks got just one run out of it, as Stovall drove one in on a sacrifice fly and then Wegner lined out to deep right-center.
T-8th: Arkansas 7, Louisiana Tech 4
Myers hit a solid line drive through the left side to start the inning, but Burchfield followed by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. Evans fouled off several pitches, but Carter eventually struck him out to end the inning.
B-8th: Arkansas 7, Louisiana Tech 4
After a fly out by Slavens, Bohrofen hit a grounder to first that deflected off the first baseman’s glove and bounced to the second baseman, who then fired to the pitcher covering the bag for a rare 4-3-1 putout. With two outs, Cali lined a single into center and Diggs drew a walk to put a couple of runners on for Rowland, who stranded them by striking out.
Arkansas has stranded 13 runners today, going 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
T-9th: Arkansas 7, Louisiana Tech 4
Peyton Holt, who pinch ran for Cali after he got to second the previous half inning, stayed in at third and perfectly fielded a grounder by McLeod for the first out. Then Drost flied out to center and Hogart struck out looking. Carter earns his first career save.
FINAL: Arkansas 7, Louisiana Tech 4
BOX SCORE – Arkansas vs Louisiana Tech (Game 1)
Starting Lineups — Arkansas vs Louisiana Tech (Game 1)
|Louisiana Tech Baseball||Arkansas Baseball|
|1. Brody Drost – CF||1. Tavian Josenberger – CF|
|2. Jonathan Hogart – RF||2. Peyton Stovall – 2B|
|3. Dalton Davis – 2B||3. Jared Wegner – LF|
|4. Jorge Corona – C||4. Brady Slavens – 1B|
|5. Ethan Bates – 3B||5. Jace Bohrofen – RF|
|6. Adarius Myers – LF||6. Caleb Cali – 3B|
|7. Walker Burchfield – DH||7. Kendall Diggs – DH|
|8. Karson Evans – 1B||8. Parker Rowland – C|
|9. Logan McLeod – SS||9. John Bolton – SS|
|Pitching: S-Sr. LHP Jonathan Fincher||Pitching: So. LHP Hagen Smith|
Arkansas Bats Off to Hot Start
The strength of this Arkansas baseball team was supposed to be pitching, with questions surrounding a remade lineup. Instead, through the first three weeks, it’s been the opposite.
Heading into this weekend’s three-game Arkansas vs Louisiana Tech series, the Razorbacks are off to their hottest offensive start since elevating into perennial powerhouse status in 2017.
In the five full seasons during that timeframe, so not including the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Razorbacks have hosted four regionals and reached the College World Series three times. However, they didn’t produce at a clip like they have through 12 games this year in any of those seasons.
As a team, Arkansas is slashing .308/.417/.558 with 25 home runs, has only four more strikeouts (85) than free passes (81 — 65 walks, 16 HBP) and is averaging 9.1 runs.
“You might get us out for an inning or two, but usually we’ll foul off some pitches and work the count a little bit and we can drive your count up,” head coach Dave Van Horn said. “I like the way that if you’re facing our lineup and maybe if you’re pitching you think, ‘Well, if I can get through the top…’ but really the middle and the bottom of the order can be just as good.
“They don’t get to relax. That’s how you wear pitchers down, especially good starters. If you can fight them 1 through 9, it can frustrate them a little bit.”
Offensive numbers appear to be up across the entire league, as evidenced by the Razorbacks not even cracking the top five in the SEC in batting average, scoring or home runs, but it’s still notable that this has been their best start in recent memory despite returning only two regular starters from last year’s lineup.
Arkansas’ team OPS of .975 is 36 points higher than the 2021 team that ended up being ranked No. 1 most of the year. The Razorbacks have also hit four more home runs that that team at this point of the year, which is significant because they broke the single-season school record in 2021.
Making that even more impressive is the fact they’re doing it without striking out nearly as much, averaging one fewer strikeout per game than last year and more than two fewer than that the legendary 2021 season.
“It seems like most every game they put together what we call a crooked-number inning where they’re scoring 2, 3, 4 runs,” Van Horn said. “But they’ve also had a lot of innings where we score one here, one there, and then we put you away with a big inning. That has to do with plate discipline and just making the other team work a little bit.”
The Razorbacks have also done all of this against some quality competition and without skewing their numbers with a blowout of an inferior opponent. They’ve played three Big 12 foes and a couple of preseason favorites in mid-major conferences. Now the competition will ramp up even more with Louisiana Tech coming to town.
The Bulldogs are 8-4 and coming off a week in which they should have swept a two-game midweek series at Ole Miss and did sweep Northwestern.
With three key pitchers out with injuries and a couple others struggling with consistency, the Razorbacks will likely lean on their offense once again this weekend in a rematch of the dramatic 2021 series down in Ruston, La.
Even though Arkansas won two of three, it needed 10 innings and a towering home run by Jalen Battles to win Game 1 and lost the finale when Jarret Whorff threw a two-hit shutout for Louisiana Tech.
“It was a really good series last time,” Van Horn said. “Obviously, we’re really leery of them because they’re older and played an SEC school on the road, and we’re a little thin on the mound.”
Arkansas Baseball Schedule This Week
Tuesday — Arkansas 7, Army 5
Friday — vs Louisiana Tech — 3 p.m. CT (no TV/stream)
Saturday — vs Louisiana Tech — 2 p.m. CT (SECN+)
Sunday — vs Louisiana Tech — 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: 3-0 on the weekend / 1-0 in the midweek / 10-2 on the season
It may not be a big-name school, but Wright State is a very good baseball program. The Raiders have reached the NCAA Tournament in five of the last seven seasons and are picked to win the Horizon League again this season. Fans may not recognize it as such, but a sweep this weekend will be the first sign that Arkansas is still a dominant team worthy of a top-10 ranking.
Army won’t be a pushover, as it’s picked to win the six-team Patriot League and nearly its entire infield is on the preseason all-conference team, but it should be another quality win for the Razorbacks.
Actual: 3-0 on the weekend / 1-0 in the midweek / 10-2 on the season
Wright State doesn’t have a very impressive record, but it was competitive last weekend and showed that it should still be the favorite to win its conference this year. That said, we correctly predicted the sweep. We also predicted that Army wouldn’t be a pushover, which was definitely the case — Arkansas had to rally back from a 4-0 deficit to win.
Composite College Baseball Top 25
Unlike football and basketball, which have just the AP and Coaches Polls all year (with football adding the CFP rankings late in the season), college baseball has six major polls.
To get a better feel for how teams stack up, BoAS has combined those rankings into a single top 25 by using a points system in which a No. 1 ranking = 25 points, No. 2 = 24 points and all the way to No. 25 = 1 point. We will update this each week throughout the season…
|4. Wake Forest||ACC||-1||133|
|t-7. Ole Miss||SEC||-1||113|
|12. Virginia Tech||ACC||+3||74|
|13. TCU||Big 12||+1||70|
|14. North Carolina State||ACC||+7||60|
|15. East Carolina||AAC||-4||59|
|16. Texas A&M||SEC||+1||54|
|17. North Carolina||ACC||+3||50|
|18. Oklahoma State||Big 12||+1||49|
|19. Oregon State||Pac-12||+3||35.5|
|20. Miami (Fla.)||ACC||-8||33|
|21. Texas Tech||Big 12||-5||30|
|24. South Carolina||SEC||+5||22|
|25. Southern Miss||Sun Belt||+2||18|
MOVED IN: Alabama (t-22), South Carolina (24), Southern Miss (25)
DROPPED OUT: Florida State (18), Maryland (23), UC-Santa Barbara (t-24)
- SEC: 10
- ACC: 7
- Big 12: 3
- Pac-12: 3
- AAC: 1
- Sun Belt: 1
More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…