LIVE UPDATES: Tigers Waved the White Flag Before Game 1 of Arkansas vs LSU

Hagen Smith, Jay Johnson, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs LSU, LSU baseball
photo credit: Baumology / LSU Athletics

The hype bad been building for weeks for the Arkansas vs LSU showdown at Baum-Walker Stadium on Easter Weekend.

Most of this anticipation was focused on the highly-touted pitching matchup for the series opener between the two teams’ aces, who are both high-caliber MLB Draft prospects. Scouts and national media members have flocked to Fayetteville to see Arkansas’ Hagen Smith take on LSU’s Luke Holman.

Holman boasts an impeccable 0.78 ERA, which ranks 4th nationally. Smith is no slouch, either, with his 1.24 mark rounding out the top ten. Where the hard-throwing lefty tops Holman is with his gaudy strikeout numbers – 62 in just 29 innings, good for the best ratio in the country.

The stage was set for an incredible pitching duel between the No. 1 Razorbacks and No. 8 Tigers.

UPDATE: See our post-game on Arkansas vs LSU here:

That is, until a pregame announcement cracked the Easter egg on some disappointing news for both fanbases – Luke Holman would not be starting on Thursday, and the infamous “TBA” was taking his spot on the bump.

The Tigers instead decided to move their ace over to the Game 2 slot. It appears that LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson is waving the white flag against the Razorbacks’ unhittable lefty and aiming to take the last two games of the series.

It’s a clear shift in strategy after a disappointing 2-4 start to conference play for the defending national champions. LSU has dropped both of its SEC series against Mississippi State and Florida, losing each rubber match by run-rule. 

Thatcher Hurd, the usual Sunday starter, was dropped from the rotation for this weekend after giving up a combined 12 earned runs across those two outings. The junior is MLB Pipeline’s No. 15 overall prospect for the 2024 Draft – just three spots behind Smith – but he has struggled mightily this season, as seen by his ballooning 7.09 ERA.

The mysterious “TBA” taking Hurd’s place on the mound was revealed to be junior lefty Javen Coleman, who holds a 4.60 ERA across 15.2 innings of work this season. This will be his fourth start of the season, and he holds a 2-0 record that will certainly be put to the test in a tough matchup against the Razorbacks’ ace.

Johnson’s decision to rob the people of the Holman vs. Hagen matchup has riled up some Arkansas fans, who took to Twitter to call out the LSU skipper after the news broke.

Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn was faced with a similar dilemma last season against LSU’s purple and gold-clad terminator Paul Skenes. Rather than slacking off the reins and fighting another day, the Head Hog decided to throw everything at the Tigers’ ace – and the gamble paid off with a series-opening victory. 

Van Horn pitched both Hunter Hollan and Smith, who combined to give up just three runs across 10 innings. Skenes was nails against the Razorbacks, surrendering only one earned run and striking out 12 batters in seven innings of work. But as soon as Johnson moved to his bullpen, Arkansas cracked the game open and won 9-3, highlighted by an eight-run 10th inning.

The Diamond Hogs did go on to lose the next two games, allowing the Tigers to take the series. Johnson’s Game 1 punt indicates that he will be looking to repeat that pattern with this year’s series.

LSU fans appear to share their coach’s fear of facing Smith on Thursday, with many of the Tiger faithful clearly not looking forward to tonight’s matchup.

Follow along below for inning-by-inning updates from Game 1 of the Arkansas vs LSU series…

UPDATE: Jay Johnson claimed afterward that the decision was simply to keep Holman on normal rest after he threw more than 100 pitches last Friday. Arkansas took the opener, but LSU now has Holman and Gage Jump waiting for the next two games.

LIVE UPDATES – Arkansas vs LSU (Game 1)

Pregame Tidbits

Arkansas did some rotation reshuffling of its own for this weekend, as big lefty Mason Molina will face Holman on Friday and Brady Tygart’s start will come in the last matchup of the series.

The Tygart switch comes after the talented righty has been dealing with some slight mechanical issues that have caused him to walk nine batters in his last eight innings. His ERA still sits at an elite 1.59, and head coach Dave Van Horn didn’t sound too concerned about the junior at Wednesday’s press conference.

“We just want to give Brady another day to get right,” Van Horn said. “I feel great about Brady. His stuff’s good. Competes hard. I think he’s had a little bit of command issues with his fastball. He gets that straightened out, he’ll be good to go. So I have all the confidence in the world in him.”

Defensively, the Razorbacks are going with Will Edmunson in left field. Jack Wagner is also starting his second straight game at designated hitter.

T-1st: Arkansas 0, LSU 0

  • Smith strikes Frey out looking on a breaking ball to open the game.
  • Pearson goes down swinging as Smith grabs back-to-back Ks.
  • White draws solid contact with a loud fly ball to center field, but it’s a comfortable catch for Wilmsmeyer. The Tigers go down in order.

B-1st: Arkansas 0, LSU 0

  • Stovall goes down looking on a fastball dotted on the outside corner.
  • Aloy draws a one-out walk.
  • McLaughlin ropes a single into right-center field, Aloy advances to third on a hit and run.
  • Sprague-Lott grounds into a 6-4-3 double play. Inning over. He was hit on the foot with the first pitch, but time was called as it was delivered due to a pitch clock violation. No dice.

T-2nd: Arkansas 0, LSU 0

  • Travinski goes down looking on a questionable strike three. He protests the call to no avail.
  • Smith strikes out Jones swinging on a “come and get me” fastball for his 4th K.
  • Braswell grounds out to Aloy as the Tigers go down in order again.

B-2nd: Arkansas 0, LSU 0

  • Coleman gets Diggs to strike out looking on a painted fastball.
    • Travinski sends the ball into the outfield on the “around the infield” throw, and the crowd let’s him know about it with some jeers.
  • Wagner hits a fly ball into center field, but the wind pulls it down into Kling’s glove.
  • White’s foul tip is snared by Travinski for the third out.

T-3rd: Arkansas 0, LSU 0

  • Long run for Aloy as Bingham chops it up the middle. He’s safe at first for an infield single as the Tigers record their first hit.
  • Sprague-Lott fields it off the hop and tries to turn the double play. He gets the lead runner, but Kling is safe at first on a fielder’s choice.
  • Smith’s slider gets Milam out swinging for his 5th K to round out the first time through the order.
  • A hot grounder up the middle ramps off the mound, but Stovall makes a diving stop and steps on second base to retire the side.

B-3rd: Arkansas 1, LSU 0

  • Edmunson hits a mile-high fly ball into no-man’s land, but Pearson makes a tricky sliding catch.
  • Wilmsmeyer bloops a single into right field.
  • Jay Johnson takes a mound visit after three straight balls to Stovall
  • Four-pitch walk to Stovall puts a second man on base.
  • LSU makes an early call to the bullpen. Now pitching for the Tigers: Fidel Ulloa (great mustache).
    • Final line on Javen Coleman: 2.1 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 K
  • Ulloa misses high on a breaking ball. The five-pitch walk loads the bases, and the beer hats go on.
  • McLaughlin hits a fly ball to the warning track that had the look of a grand slam, but the wind makes the Hogs settle for a sacrifice fly as Arkansas takes the lead.
  • Sprague-Lott pounds it into the ground towards third, and Tommy White gets the put-out to end the inning and prevent any additional damage.
    • Aloy stole second during the AB.

T-4th: Arkansas 1, LSU 2

  • Pearson grounds out to first.
  • Tommy White shows his power, as he smacks a looping breaking ball into the left-field bullpen to tie the game.
    • After shutout starts against Missouri and Auburn, that’s the first run that Smith has given up in SEC play.
  • On the very next pitch, Hayden Travinski hits a solo shot off the building in right field to give LSU the lead. Back-to-back homers for the Tigers.
  • Smith bounces back for a backwards K against Jones.
  • Braswell hits a line drive just over the glove of Aloy.
  • Bingham hits a soft grounder right back to Smith to end the inning.
    • The Razorback ace covers his mouth with his glove and lets out some frustration as he heads back to the dugout.

B-4th: Arkansas 3, LSU 2

  • Diggs lines out to center.
    • The first pitch slipped out of Ulloa’s hand and went sailing over the catcher’s head, to the crowd’s delight.
  • Jack Wagner equalizes, as he sends a solo bomb into the Hog Pen and ties the game back up.
  • Ulloa walks White.
    • Mound visit after two straight balls to start off Edmunson’s AB.
  • Edmunson hits a fly ball to left-center, Kling collides with Bingham but hangs on for the out. Hog Pen heckles rain down on the outfield pair.
  • Wilmsmeyer lines a base hit into center field. White moves up to second base.
  • LSU makes another call to the bullpen. Now pitching for the Tigers: Justin Loer.
    • Final line on Ulloa: 1.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 K
  • Stovall wins the lefty-lefty matchup and hammers the payoff pitch into right field, scoring White. Runners on the corners.
  • Aloy strikes out to end the inning as Travinski holds onto the foul tip.

T-5th: Arkansas 3, LSU 2

  • Smith opens the inning with a backwards K.
    • Kling thought he had ball four on each of the last two pitches, strolling towards first base before getting called back and rung up.
  • Milam grounds out to short on the first pitch.
  • Smith picks up his 8th strikeout of the night as Frey goes down swinging.

B-5th: Arkansas 3, LSU 2

  • Loer issues a leadoff walk to McLaughlin.
  • Sprague-Lott strikes out looking on a fastball on the inside corner. It’s a big strike zone for both teams.
  • Diggs also goes down looking, this time on the outside black of the plate.
  • Wagner draws a five-pitch walk, McLaughlin moves up to second base.
  • White hits a ground ball through the hole up the middle. Wagner is thrown out at third base just before McLaughlin crosses the plate. The run does not score.

T-6th: Arkansas 3, LSU 2

  • Pearson goes around on the check swing for another Smith K.
  • White gets a hold of another one as he sends a fly ball to the warning track, but Diggs is there to make the catch.
  • Travinski hits a liner into right-center field, Wilmsmeyer can’t quite make the diving catch and the inning stays alive.
  • Jones whiffs on a breaking ball as Smith records his 10th strikeout of the night.

B-6th: Arkansas 3, LSU 2

  • Now pitching for the Tigers: Christian Little.
    • Final line on Loer: 1.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 K
  • Edmunson lines out to right field.
  • Wilmsmeyer grounds out to short.
  • Stovall bloops a single into left-center field.
  • Aloy hits a grounder to short, but Braswell bobbles it. Runners on first and second.
  • McLaughlin grounds out to second to end the inning.
    • Arkansas strands its fifth and sixth runners of the evening.

T-7th: Arkansas 3, LSU 2

  • Hagen Smith’s day is done. Now pitching for the Razorbacks: Will McEntire
    • Final line on Smith: 6 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 10 K
  • McEntire starts his outing by striking out Braswell.
  • Bingham lines it into center, and Wilmsmeyer’s diving stab is a little overzealous. He reaches second base.
  • Larson pinch hits for the Tigers. McEntire’s big-bender locks up the true freshman for a backwards K.
  • McEntire gets his third strikeout of the inning on Milam. Time to stretch at Baum-Walker.

B-7th: Arkansas 4, LSU 2

  • Sprague-Lott reaches safely with a leadoff single.
    • Travinski comes out to talk to Little after three straight balls to Diggs.
  • Diggs golfs one one into shallow center, Braswell backpedals to make the catch.
  • Good morning, good afternoon. good night. Little strikes out Wagner on three pitches.
  • White draws a walk.
    • Sprague-Lott moved up to second on a ball in the dirt, and he stays put after the free pass.
  • Ross Lovich pinch hitting for Edmunson.
  • Jay Johnson makes another move to the bullpen. Now pitching for LSU: Cam Johnson.
    • Final line on Little: 1.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K
  • Lovich draws a four-pitch walk that loads the bases for Arkansas.
  • Johnson surrenders a bases-loaded walk to Wilmsmeyer to double Arkansas’ lead.
  • The true freshman strikes out Stovall, and the Hogs leave the bases loaded.

T-8th: Arkansas 4, LSU 3

  • McEntire strikes out Frey on a punch out just below the knees.
  • Pearson goes down swinging on a breaking ball in the dirt, and White throws him out at first.
  • White rips a loud single into the gap in left-center.
  • McEntire misses outside with a full count and Travinski gets a base on balls.
    • Jake Brown replaces Travinski as a pinch runner.
  • Jones nails a single into left field. White scores, and Brown moves to third.
    • Matt Hobbs comes out for a mound visit.
  • McEntire strikes out Braswell swinging to preserve the lead.

B-8th: Arkansas 7, LSU 3

  • Now pitching for LSU: Gavin Guidry (Alex Milazzo takes over behind the plate)
    • Final line on Johnson: 0.1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 2 BB, 1 K
  • Aloy draws the walk as ball four skips past Milazzo.
  • McLaughlin strikes out on three pitches.
  • Sprague-Lott draws a four-pitch walk. Aloy moves up to second.
  • Kendall Diggs launches a three-run bomb deep into the night to extend Arkansas’ lead. It was gone off the bat.
  • Diggs’ shot chases Guidry from the game. Now pitching for LSU: Will Hellmers.
    • Final line on Guidry: 0.1 IP, 3 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K
  • Wagner strikes out looking.
  • White hits a soft liner towards first to retire the side.

T-9th: Arkansas 7, LSU 4

  • McEntire comes back to the mound to try and finish things off, and strikes out Bingham with three pitches.
  • Larson draws a one-out walk.
  • Milam slaps one down the line into the right field corner. Runners on second and third.
  • Brady Neal enters as a pinch hitter, replacing Frey.
  • McEntire’s pitch skips off of White, scoring Larson. Milam to third.
  • Neal strikes out swinging at a high fastball.
  • Dave Van Horn makes a call to the bullpen for the last out. Now pitching for Arkansas: Stone Hewlett.
    • Final line on McEntire: 2.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 8 K
  • Hewlett strikes Pearson out looking to end the game. 19 Ks for the Arkansas pitching staff on the night.
    • Final line on Hewlett: 0.1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K

FINAL: Arkansas 7, LSU 4

  • Win: Hagen Smith (5-0)
  • Loss: Fidel Ulloa (0-1)
  • Save: Stone Hewlett (1)

Starting Lineups

LSU BaseballArkansas Baseball
1. Ethan Frey – DH1. Peyton Stovall – 2B
2. Josh Pearson – RF2. Wehiwa Aloy – SS
3. Tommy White – 3B3. Ben McLaughlin – 1B
4. Hayden Travinski – C4. Jared Sprague-Lott – 3B
5. Jared Jones – 1B5. Kendall Diggs – RF
6. Michael Braswell III – SS6. Jack Wagner – DH
7. Mac Bingham – LF7. Hudson White – C
8. Paxton Kling – CF8. Will Edmunson – LF
9. Steven Milam – 2B9. Ty Wilmsmeyer – CF
Pitching: LHP Javen ColemanPitching: LHP Hagen Smith

How to Watch Arkansas vs LSU (Game 1)

Date: Thursday, March 28

Location: Baum-Walker Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)

First pitch: 6 p.m. CT

TV/Stream: ESPN2


More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…

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