LIVE UPDATES: Hogs Faced Potential Nate Thompson Successor in NCAA Tournament

Nate Thompson, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs SEMO, Fayetteville Regional, NCAA Tournament
photo credit: Baumology

FAYETTEVILLE — A pair of Dave Van Horn’s former players will be in the opposing dugout during Friday afternoon’s Arkansas vs SEMO matchup at the Fayetteville Regional.

The Redhawks are led by eighth-year head coach Andy Sawyers, who played for Van Horn at Nebraska back in the day. Joining him as their associate head coach when they take on the No. 5 Razorbacks in their opening game of the 2024 NCAA Tournament is Trevor Ezell.

That’s a name Arkansas baseball fans should recognize, as Ezell played his final season of college baseball for the Razorbacks in 2019. A key member on a team that made the College World Series, he hit .329 with 10 home runs and 49 RBIs while earning both second-team All-SEC honors and the SEC All-Defensive Team nod at first base.

The Bryant High product, who was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Arkansas as a senior in 2014, began his collegiate career at Southeast Missouri and spent four years there before transferring back home.

After a very brief stint in the minors that was cut short by a torn ACL and the pandemic, Ezell got into coaching as a volunteer assistant at his first school in 2021. The following year, SEMO promoted him into a full-time position, which he’s held ever since.

With him serving as the hitting coach, the Redhawks have a balanced and potent offense, hitting .292 with 100 home runs – the latter of which ranks 31st nationally.

“Trevor’s been back for four years,” Sawyers said. “In those four years, we’ve been to three regionals. We’ve set the school record for home runs two times. You can do the math and figure out how important he’s been to our program.”

In fact, Sawyers envisions a scenario in which he loses Ezell to the Razorbacks a second time, but instead of via the transfer portal, it’ll be via the coaching carousel.

He believes he’d be an excellent replacement for current Arkansas hitting coach Nate Thompson, likely when and if Thompson gets a head coaching job.

“I think he’s one of the best young hitting coaches in the country,” Sawyers said. “I hope I lose him some day. I hope I lose him to the University of Arkansas and he can come back here and work with y’all’s guys when that time comes, when Nate (Thompson) gets his program.”

That may be music to some Arkansas baseball fans’ ears, as Thompson has faced quite a bit of criticism for the Razorbacks’ scuffling offense this year.

Now that the postseason is here, they’ll try to kick it into gear starting this weekend, with another run to Omaha on their minds.

Follow along below for updates from the Arkansas vs SEMO matchup that opens the 2024 Fayetteville Regional… 

(READ NEXT: Check out our in-depth feature on the heart and soul of the Razorbacks, Peyton Holt)

LIVE UPDATES – Arkansas vs SEMO (Fayetteville Regional)

Pregame Tidbits – NCAA Tournament

Weather could be a factor in today’s game, with a threat of rain throughout the day. Stay tuned here for updates as they become available.

Van Horn made several changes to his starting lineup once again. Peyton Stovall is back in the leadoff spot, Ryder Helfrick is starting at DH and batting fifth, Wehiwa Aloy is down in the 6-hole again, Kendall Diggs is back down in the 7 spot and Ty Wilmsmeyer is starting in center.

T-1st: SEMO 0, Arkansas 0

Molina opened the game with four straight balls to walk Kettering, but then bounced back with two straight three-pitch strikeouts. Mugan flies out to center to end the inning. It was a 15-pitch frame for Molina.

B-1st: Arkansas 1, SEMO 0

The Hogs strike first. After a ground out by Stovall, White poked a high fly to right that just got over the fence for an opposite-field home run. It was hit 92 mph off the bat and traveled 334 feet. That was it for Arkansas, but Dow threw 20 pitches for SEMO.

T-2nd: Arkansas 1, SEMO 0

Molina needed only 10 pitches to retire the Redhawks in order in the second. He capped it with a strikeout, his third of the game. He’s up to 25 total pitches.

B-2nd: Arkansas 8, SEMO 0

After a full-count strikeout by Helfrick, Aloy stretched a single into a double and then Diggs was plunked in a 1-2 count. That set up an RBI single by Holt. Wilmsmeyer followed with a ground ball to second that looked like it might be an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play, but the shortstop didn’t field the throw from second and everyone was safe, plus Diggs scored on the play, giving Wilmsmeyer an RBI fielder’s choice.

Stovall flied out to shallow center, but then White drew a walk to load the bases. That’s it for Dow. The new pitcher for SEMO is right-hander Collin Wilma. His third pitch was a 66 mph breaking ball that Sprague-Lott blooped into left-center for a two-run single. McLaughlin followed by crushing a home run off the Hunt Center. It left the bat with a 104 mph exit velocity and traveled 385 feet. Helfrick struck out looking to end the inning.

T-3rd: Arkansas 8, SEMO 4

Cannon fouled off three straight 3-2 pitches before drawing a leadoff walk. Molina bounced back by striking out Ackerman, but then walked Kettering on four pitches. Palmer followed with a three-run homer into the Hog Pen. That prompted a mound visit by Matt Hobbs. However, Molina still walked the next batter. In a 1-2 count, Mugan ripped a double to right-center, putting runners on second and third. Cameron flied out to right-center, but it was plenty deep enough for a sacrifice fly. However, Wilmsmeyer nearly threw out Mugan trying to tag up to third.

That’s it for Molina. Right-hander Will McEntire is now pitching for Arkansas. He got Coloma to pop out to end the inning.

B-3rd: Arkansas 8, SEMO 4

After a rough previous inning, Wilma locked in during the third. He needed just seven pitches to reture the Hogs in order.

T-4th: Arkansas 8, SEMO 4

McEntire answered that with a nine-pitch inning of his own. It was capped with a strikeout – the 675th of the season by Arkansas pitchers, a school record.

B-4th: Arkansas 8, SEMO 4

Wilmsmeyer reached on an error by the second baseman and then took second on a wild pitch, putting himself into scoring position. However, Stovall, White and Sprague-Lott failed to drive him in.

T-5th: Arkansas 8, SEMO 8

A nice AB by Kettering resulted in a leadoff walk and then Palmer singled through the left side. Stauss hit a little dribbler to no-man’s land for an infield single that loaded the bases and prompted a mound visit by Hobbs. McEntire got Mugan to hit a slow chopper to short, but all the Hogs were able to get was the out at second, giving Mugan an RBI fielder’s choice.

Cameron crushed a line drive off the Hunt Center for a three-run homer that tied it up 8-8. That’s it for McEntire. Right-hander Christian Foutch is the new pitcher. He struck out Coloma, but then walked Resetich, who stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Cannon also walked, putting runners on the corners, but Foutch got Ackerman to ground out to end the inning.

B-5th: Arkansas 10, SEMO 8

Wilma got a couple of quick outs, but then left a fastball over the plate and Aloy crushed it for a solo home run. That’s it for Wilma. Left-hander Logan Katen is now pitching for SEMO. His third pitch was hit by Diggs and just barely cleared the wall in left for a solo home run – his first long ball since March 28. Holt and Wilmsmeyer followed with singles, putting runners on the corners. A walk by Stovall loaded the bases and that’s it for Katen. Right-hander Payton Lawrence came in and struck out White to leave the bases loaded.

T-6th: Arkansas 10, SEMO 8

Right-hander Gabe Gaeckle is now pitching for Arkansas. He promptly walked Kettering on four pitches. Stauss also hit a one-out single and the runners moved to second and third on a passed ball, but Cameron lined out to right to strand the tying runs in scoring position.

B-6th: Arkansas 10, SEMO 8

Sprague-Lott drew a leadoff walk despite falling behind 0-2 and then McLaughlin ripped a double into the right field corner, putting runners on second and third. Ross Lovich pinch hit for Helfrick and struck out. Aloy popped out to the first baseman in foul territory on the first pitch he saw for the second out. That left it up to Diggs, who fouled off five two-strike pitches before walking on the 11th pitch of the AB. That loaded the bases and prompted a mount visit by SEMO. The visit worked, as Holt struck out to end the inning.

T-7th: Arkansas 10, SEMO 9

Holt noticeably limped as he struck out to end the last inning and he is replaced in left field by Will Edmunson. Gaeckle got Coloma to ground out, but then gave up back-to-back doubles to Resetich and Cannon, the latter of which was an RBI. Ian Riley struck out as a pinch hitter, but Kettering drew his fifth walk to extend the inning and prompt another mound visit by Hobbs. Gaeckle responded by getting Palmer to pop out to end the inning.

B-7th: Arkansas 14, SEMO 9

For the third time today, Wilmsmeyer put the ball in play and SEMO committed an error. This time it was a high throw by the third baseman that allowed him to reach. Stovall followed with a single to right and Wilmsmeyer went first-to-third. That’s it for Lawrence. Now pitching for SEMO is right-hander Kyle Miller. His first pitch was hit to right by White. It was a fly out, but plenty deep for a sacrifice fly. McLaughlin followed with a three-run blast off the scoreboard.

Lovich reached on an infield single, but was then thrown out trying to steal second. Aloy grounded out to end the inning.

T-8th: Arkansas 14, SEMO 9

Gaeckle issued a leadoff walk to Stauss, the 10th walk of the game by Arkansas’ staff. He responded with three straight strikeouts. He’s thrown 62 pitches in three innings.

B-8th: Arkansas 17, SEMO 9

Diggs led off the inning with a single and Edmunson moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Wilmsmeyer poked a hit through the left side and used some heads-up base running to take second, turning the single into a double. After an ugly strikeout by Stovall, White picked him up with a two-out, three-run homer. Sprague-Lott struck out to end the inning.

T-9th: Arkansas 17, SEMO 9

Right-hander Jake Faherty is in to try to close it out for Arkansas. He struck out Cole Warehime as a pinch hitter, but then gave up a pinch-hit single to Gavin Baldwin, who tagged up to third on a deep fly out to right by Shea McGahan, who entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh. Kettering grounded out to second to end the game. Nice play by Stovall.

FINAL – Arkansas 17, SEMO 9

Starting Lineups

SEMO BaseballArkansas Baseball
1. Brooks Kettering – 2B1. Peyton Stovall – 2B
2. Ben Palmer – SS2. Hudson White – C
3. Ty Stauss – LF3. Jared Sprague-Lott – 3B
4. Michael Mugan – CF4. Ben McLaughlin – 1B
5. Josh Cameron – RF5. Ryder Helfrick – DH
6. Keoni Coloma – DH6. Wehiwa Aloy – SS
7. Chance Resetich – 3B7. Kendall Diggs – RF
8. Bryce Cannon – 1B8. Peyton Holt – LF
9. Nolan Ackerman – C9. Ty Wilmsmeyer – CF
Pitching: LHP Haden DowPitching: LHP Mason Molina

How to Watch Arkansas vs SEMO (Fayetteville Regional)

Date: Friday, May 31

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

First Pitch: 2 p.m. CT

TV/Stream: ESPN+

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More coverage of Arkansas baseball, the NCAA Tournament and the Fayetteville Regional from BoAS… 

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