FAYETTEVILLE — He’ll be in the opposing dugout, but a recent Arkansas baseball standout will return to Baum-Walker Stadium on Tuesday.
In a single midweek matchup, the Razorbacks are hosting Southeast Missouri State, whose associate head coach is former All-SEC performer Trevor Ezell. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT and the game will be streamed on SEC Network-Plus.
Ezell was a key member of Arkansas’ 2019 College World Series team. Eventually moving into the leadoff spot, he hit .329/.435/.561 with 10 home runs and 49 RBIs. He also led the team in doubles (25), runs (72), walks (47) and stolen bases (19), helping him earn second-team All-SEC honors.
Offseason shoulder surgery prevented him from playing his natural position at second base, so he moved to first base. Despite being listed at just 5-foot-8, Ezell excelled at his new position, committing only three errors and landing on the SEC All-Defensive Team.
That was actually his lone season with the Razorbacks. A native of Bryant, Ezell spent the first four years of his career at SEMO, where he started 181 games and hit .336, before entering the portal as a graduate transfer.
After a brief stint in the minor leagues, which was hindered by a torn ACL, Ezell got into coaching at his original alma mater. He started out on the administrative side as the Redhawks’ Director of Offensive Player Development, but was promoted to full-time hitting coach last season before another promotion to associate head coach in December.
He isn’t the only Arkansas connection on staff. SEMO’s volunteer assistant is Harrison Heffley, a Rogers native who signed with the Razorbacks in 2016. However, injuries forced the left-handed pitcher to shift to a student assistant role for three seasons before reinventing himself as a hitter at the Division II level.
It’s also worth noting that Andy Sawyers, SEMO’s seventh-year head coach, was a catcher for Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn during his time at Nebraska. He also served as a volunteer assistant under Van Horn with the Cornhuskers in 2000.
Best of Arkansas Sports will be at Baum-Walker Stadium for the homecoming and will provide live inning-by-innings updates from the Arkansas vs SEMO matchup below…
LIVE UPDATES — Arkansas vs SEMO
This will be the second time Andy Sawyers has faced his former head coach. He also brought SEMO baseball to Fayetteville two years ago for four games. The Razorbacks swept that series, but Game 1 was a 10-inning affair that required them scoring three runs to tie it up in the ninth. In the other two matchups with Van Horn at the helm, Arkansas and SEMO split two-game midweek series in 2011 and 2015.
Freshman right-hander Ben Bybee is set to make his third career start. He’s coming off a fantastic outing against UNLV in which he scattered six hits and one walk across five scoreless innings on just 63 pitches. That performance lowered his ERA to 2.35 in 7 2/3 innings.
SEMO is also starting a freshman right-hander. Eddie White has made five appearances this year, including one start, and has a 4.15 ERA with seven strikeouts and only one walk in 8 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .257 against him.
Only one regular starter is in the lineup for Arkansas: left fielder Jared Wegner. Coll started at third over the weekend and is now at short. Polk has been splitting time at catcher, so he’s sort of a regular.
T-1st: Arkansas 0, SEMO 0
Bybee got a ground out to third from Aranda and a strikeout of Doyle to start the game before issuing a two-out walk to Resetich. He was wiped out when Polk threw him out trying to steal second. That ended the inning after just 13 or 14 pitches.
B-1st: Arkansas 1, SEMO 0
Grimes, who entered the day 4 for 4 this season, struck out to start the home half of the first. Wegner followed with a rocket that hit the wall on one bounce. It had a 110 exit velocity. Cali then hit a single to right, but Wegner hesitated at second, so he had to hold up at third.
With runners on the corners, Coll hit a grounder to the left side that the shortstop got to and managed to get the force at second, but SEMO was unable to turn the double play. That made it an RBI fielder’s choice. Jones ripped a single up the middle with a 104 mph exit velocity. However, the runners were stranded on first and second when Robinett struck out.
T-2nd: Arkansas 1, SEMO 0
Bybee notched a couple of strikeouts – and another couple of walks – before getting Rodgers to ground out to end the inning. It was a 26-pitch inning. He’s up to 39 pitches in the game.
B-2nd: Arkansas 1, SEMO 0
The new pitcher for SEMO is right-hander Esteban Hernandez. Holt grounded out to short to start the second inning and then Polk followed with a chopper up the middle. The pitcher got his glove on it, but knocked it down and it ended up in no man’s land, resulting in an infield single – just his third hit of the year. He then moved to second on a failed pick-off attempt. That’s where he was stranded, though, as Neville looked at strike three and Grimes popped out in foul territory.
T-3rd: Arkansas 1, SEMO 0
For the first time today, Bybee set SEMO down 1-2-3. He got Palmer to look at strike three for his fourth strikeout of the game, then got the top of the order to ground out (Aranda) and fly out (Doyle). He’s at 54 pitches through three innings.
B-3rd: Arkansas 1, SEMO 0
Hernandez needed only nine pitches to return the favor. Wegner struck out swinging to start the inning, then Cali grounded out to second and Coll lined out to left.
T-4th: Arkansas 1, SEMO 1
After a ground out by Resetich, Cameron smoked a line drive that hit the building in right. The solo homer tied the game at 1-1. Bybee bounced back with a strikeout of Ackerman and then got Graber to line out to left. Bybee is at 72 pitches.
B-4th: Arkansas 2, SEMO 1
The game didn’t stay tied long. After Jones got caught looking, Robinett put the Hogs back on top with a towering solo bomb that landed in the left field bullpen. That was it for Arkansas, as Holt struck out and Polk popped out.
T-5th: Arkansas 2, SEMO 1
The new pitcher for Arkansas is left-hander Zack Morris. He promptly struck out Leeper and Rodgers, but ran into trouble with two outs. Palmer laid down a perfect push bunt to reach on a single, then Morris plunked Aranda and walked Doyle.
With the bases loaded, Resetich gave it a ride to left center, but Neville tracked it down. He had to run a ways, though, so it was a nice grab to leave the bases loaded.
B-5th: Arkansas 2, SEMO 1
The new pitcher for SEMO is right-hander Gavin Johnston. He got Neville to fly out to left, struck out Grimes and got Wegner to pop up to second. SEMO pitchers have retired 11 of the last 12 Razorbacks, with the exception being Robinett’s homer in the fourth.
T-6th: Arkansas 2, SEMO 1
Morris is still on the mound for Arkansas. He struck out Cameron – who homered his last time out – to start the sixth. It looked like Ackerman might have a hit, but Cali did a nice job to make a sliding stop of it and firing a strike to first for the second out. Graber then lined out to right to make it a 1-2-3 inning.
B-6th: Arkansas 12, SEMO 1
A throwing error by Palmer, the third baseman, allowed Cali to reach. It’s the first time Arkansas’ leadoff man has reached today. Coll followed by ripping a grounder just inside the third base line. It got all the way to the left field corner. Cali looked like he might score, but he held up at third. That prompts a pitching change.
The new pitcher for SEMO is right-hander Fischer Rausch. His first pitch was lined into center by Jones. Both runs scored, despite some confusion on the base paths, and Jones ended up on second because the center fielder let the ball go under his glove for an E8. Robinett also hit a line drive single, this one with a 103 mph exit velocity. That put runners on the corners because Jones had to hold up to make sure it wouldn’t be caught. It also prompted a pitching change.
The new pitcher for SEMO is left-hander Logan Katen. He walked Holt to load the bases and then threw a wild pitch to bring in another run. Polk and Neville also walked, with the latter bringing in yet another run. That’s the end of the day for Katen.
The new pitcher for SEMO is right-hander Jonah Sarabia. His second pitch is a single through the left side for an RBI single. Everyone advances just one base, so the bases are still loaded. Wegner also singled through the left side and this one drove in two runs, making it 9-1. Cali, who reached on an error to start the inning, struck out for the first out, but Coll followed with another double into the left field corner – his second of the inning – to drive in two more runs.
That means the first nine batters of the inning all reached and scored. Jones hit a grounder to third, but Palmer’s throw got by the first baseman for his second error of the inning. That brought in another run, but Jones was thrown out trying to go to second on the play. Robinett got caught looking to finally end the inning. The 11-run lead means the run rule is in play.
T-7th: Arkansas 12, SEMO 2
Morris started the seventh inning with a three-pitch strikeout of Leeper, who didn’t take the bat off his shoulder. Rodgers – a Little Rock native – hit the first of back-to-back singles for SEMO. Danny Sperling, a pinch hitter, hit the second single. Aranda followed with a grounder to third and Cali got the force at second, but Arkansas could quite turn two on the play, which stood upon replay review. It goes down as an RBI fielder’s choice. Doyle struck out to end the game via run rule.
FINAL – Arkansas 12, SEMO 2 (7 innings)
BOX SCORE – Arkansas vs SEMO
Starting Lineups — Arkansas vs SEMO
|SEMO Baseball||Arkansas Baseball|
|1. Carlos Aranda – RF||1. Hunter Grimes – RF|
|2. Gunnar Doyle – 1B||2. Jared Wegner – LF|
|3. Chance Resetich – 2B||3. Caleb Cali – 3B|
|4. Josh Cameron – LF||4. Harold Coll – SS|
|5. Nolan Ackerman – C||5. Jayson Jones – DH|
|6. Brett Graber – CF||6. Reese Robinett – 1B|
|7. Peyton Leeper – SS||7. Peyton Holt – 2B|
|8. Caleb Rodgers – DH||8. Hudson Polk – C|
|9. Ben Palmer – 3B||9. Mason Neville – CF|
|Pitching: Fr. RHP Eddie White||Pitching: Fr. RHP Ben Bybee|
Baseball Schedule This Week
Tuesday — vs SEMO — 3 p.m. CT (SECN+)
Friday — at LSU — 7 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
Saturday — at LSU — 1 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
Sunday — at LSU — Noon CT (ESPN)
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: 1-1 in the midweek / 3-0 over the weekend / 16-4 overall, 3-0 in SEC play
After three straight weeks of single-game midweek matchups, UNLV will come to Fayetteville for a pair of games just before the start of conference play. The Hustlin’ Rebels won the regular-season MWC title last year and are picked to win the league again, led by three all-conference returners. If that’s not enough to tell you how good UNLV is, consider the fact that Dave Van Horn consistently brings it up as one of Arkansas’ toughest non-conference opponents on the schedule. With SEC play looming, I think the Razorbacks get caught looking ahead and split the two games.
Getting beat during the week might not be the worst thing in the world. It’ll refocus the team ahead of a brutal SEC slate and Auburn will feel the brunt of that. The Tigers have made it to Omaha twice in the past three NCAA Tournaments, but aren’t getting a ton of preseason respect. I could easily see them getting off to a hot start and climbing into the top 15, only to run into a buzzsaw at Baum-Walker Stadium — similar to Kentucky in the opening SEC series in 2018.
Actual: 2-0 in the midweek / 3-0 over weekend / 18-2 overall, 3-0 in SEC play
The Razorbacks picked up another game compared to my predictions by sweeping the midweek series against UNLV instead of splitting the games. They did prove me right, though, by sweeping the Tigers to open SEC play.
More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…