The Aggies are hoping the fifth time’s the charm in the Arkansas vs Texas A&M semifinal matchup at the 2023 SEC Tournament.
After hanging on for a 5-4 win over LSU on Friday, the Aggies will play the Razorbacks – who have beaten them four times already this season – for a spot in the conference championship game. First pitch is scheduled for noon CT Saturday and the game will be televised on SEC Network.
Even though Arkansas has yet to lose in Hoover, Ala., the winner will advance and the loser will go home because it is the single-elimination portion of the event. The winner will face the winner of the Florida-Vanderbilt game, which follows the Razorbacks’ game.
During the regular season, Arkansas swept Texas A&M at Baum-Walker Stadium. Despite the Razorbacks winning all of them, the three games were really close.
Game 1 was tied entering the bottom of the eighth, when the Razorbacks scored two to win 7-5. The next day, it was a 6-4 game at the seventh-inning stretch before Arkansas scored four more runs to pull away for a 10-4 win. In the finale, the Aggies got a leadoff home run in the ninth to pull within a run, but the Razorbacks hung on for an 8-7 win to finish off the sweep.
The close nature of the series continued earlier this week when they squared off Wednesday. Texas A&M led 4-1 until a go-ahead grand slam by Jared Wegner in the seventh inning. The Aggies actually tied it up with a solo home run in the ninth, but Arkansas won it in the 11th thanks to a walk-off home run by Kendall Diggs.
As always, Best of Arkansas Sports will be watching the Arkansas vs Texas A&M showdown at the SEC Tournament and providing live updates below…
LIVE UPDATES — Arkansas vs Texas A&M
Pregame Tidbits from SEC Tournament
Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn told reporters in Hoover that sophomore Brady Tygart will get the start on the mound. It will be his fifth start of his career, all of which have come since returning from a UCL strain that caused him to miss about two months of the season. The right-hander will once again be on a pitch count, this time in the 65-70 range.
As expected, John Bolton is back in the lineup, batting ninth and starting at shortstop. He sprained his ankle in Game 2 of the Vanderbilt series and has missed the last three games. Van Horn said on Friday that he will “probably” play in Saturday’s matchup against the Aggies.
Texas A&M is starting senior left-hander Matt Dillard. It will be just his second start of the year. He has a 6.35 ERA in 22 2/3 innings across 16 appearances this season.
T-1st: Arkansas 0, Texas A&M 0
Josenberger fouled off a 2-2 pitch, but struck out swinging on the next pitch to start the game. Diggs poked a single through the left side, but was quickly erased when Bohrofen grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. It was an 11-pitch inning for Dillard.
B-1st: Arkansas 0, Texas A&M 0
Haas hit it hard, but Cali managed to snag it for the first out. Tygart then struck out Moss and Werner – the latter of which was looking. He thew just 14 pitches.
T-2nd: Arkansas 0, Texas A&M 0
Wegner worked the count full and drew a leadoff walk. Slavens followed with a hard line drive to right, but it was right to the right fielder for an easy out. Cali then hit a pop up to shallow center that the second baseman caught. With two outs, Holt chased a pitch out of the zone. Dillard is up to 26 pitches through two innings.
B-2nd: Arkansas 0, Texas A&M 0
After walking LaViolette on four pitches, Tygart plunked Thompson on his very next pitch. He bounced back to strike out Targac for the first out. Bost then grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. Tygart has now thrown 28 pitches in two innings of work.
T-3rd: Arkansas 0, Texas A&M 0
Rowland went down looking to start the inning. In his first at bat back, Bolton hit a chopper up the middle. The pitcher got a tiny piece of it, but it didn’t matter – he was safe with an infield single. Josenberger then struck out for the second time today. With two outs, Diggs also struck out. It was the fifth strikeout of the game for Dillard, whose pitch count it up to 43.
B-3rd: Texas A&M 1, Arkansas 0
Tygart got a couple of quick outs to start the third inning, with Minnich and Kaufer flying out to left and center, respectively. With two outs, Tygart fooled Haas on a breaking ball, but he still managed to reach down and poke it into left, just getting it over Bolton for a two-out single. A walk by Moss put two runners on base and set up an RBI double by Werner. It hit off the the wall in right-center and Josenberger was able to get it in quickly and force Moss to stop at third. That saved a run because LaViolette grounded out to first. Tygart is up to 52 pitches.
T-4th: Texas A&M 1, Arkansas 0
Bohrofen grounded out to second and then Wegner grounded out to third. The latter required a nice play by Werner, the third baseman, as he had to field it on a short-hop and it was hit hard. With two outs, Slavens went down swinging. It’s the first true 1-2-3 inning of the day for Dillard, who is up to 60 pitches through four innings.
B-4th: Texas A&M 1, Arkansas 0
Thompson and Targac each worked the count full to start the fourth. Thompson’s at bat ended with a double into the left field corner while Targac grounded out to second. That moved Thompson to third and was the end of the day for Tygart, who reached his pitch count.
The new pitcher for Arkansas is right-hander Will McEntire. He got Bost to pop up in the infield, with Slavens catching it for the second out. Minnich then grounded out to first to end the inning and strand the runner on third.
T-5th: Texas A&M 1, Arkansas 0
Left-hander Shane Sdao, who pitched against Arkansas on Wednesday. He promptly gave up a single through the right side to Cali. Holt followed with a fly ball into center that required Thompson to charge in and he nearly made the diving grab, but the ball came out of his glove as he hit the ground. That makes it a single for Holt.
Rowland failed to get a bunt down and ended up striking out. Bolton was then plunked in a 2-2 count to load the bases. In a full count, Josenberger popped out in foul territory. That meant it was up to Diggs, who struck out to leave the bases loaded.
B-5th: Texas A&M 1, Arkansas 0
Kaufer got caught looking to start the inning. Cali then made a great play on a sharp grounder by Haas for the second out. With two outs, Moss singled up the middle in a full count. That was all the damage, though, as Werner went down looking. McEntire has thrown 30 pitches in 1 2/3 innings.
T-6th: Texas A&M 1, Arkansas 0
Sdao made quick work of the Razorbacks in the sixth inning. After a ground out to first by Bohrofen, Wegner and Slavens struck out. The former got caught looking, while the latter chased a pitch in the dirt. Sdao has thrown 44 pitches in two innings.
B-6th: Texas A&M 4, Arkansas 0
After LaViolette grounded out to first, Thompson hit a tough grounder that Cali managed to knock down, but he couldn’t make a play on it, so it resulted in an infield single. Targac lined out to right. With two outs, Bost doubled into the left field corner and Thompson scored from first, giving him an RBI on the hit. McEntire fell behind 2-0 to the next batter and that’s it.
The new pitcher for Arkansas is freshman right-hander Gage Wood. He finished off the walk of Minnich to put runners on first and second. Wood got ahead of Kaufer 1-2, but ended up walking him to load the bases. He then fell behind 3-0 against Haas and walked him in a full count, bringing in a run. That’s it for Wood.
The new pitcher for Arkansas is freshman left-hander Parker Coil. In a full count, Moss drew another bases-loaded walk. Coil finally ended the inning by getting Werner to ground into a fielder’s choice.
T-7th: Texas A&M 4, Arkansas 1
In a full count, Cali smoked a double down the third base line and into the left field corner. Holt followed with a fly out to center. Ben McLaughlin pinch hit for Rowland and hit the first pitch he saw into left-center for an RBI single. Bolton nearly had a single, but the center fielder made a diving catch to rob him. In an 0-2 count, Josenberger poked a single into left. That prompts Arkansas to bring in Mason Neville as a pinch runner for McLaughlin, who moved to second on the play. It was also the last pitch by Sdao.
The new pitcher for Texas A&M is left-hander Brandyn Garcia. He got Diggs to ground out to end the inning, stranding two runners.
B-7th: Texas A&M 4, Arkansas 1
Coil is still on the mound for Arkansas. LaViolette flied out to left to start the inning, but Thompson and Stanley Tucker – who entered as a defensive replacement last half inning – followed with hits. Thompson’s was a single, but Tucker doubled to put runners on second and third. That’s it for him.
The new pitcher for Arkansas is freshman right-hander Christian Foutch. He induced a ground ball by Bost, which went to short. Playing up on the grass, Bolton fielded it easily and calmly threw home to get the out, as Thompson tried scoring from third. That put runners on the corners with two outs. Foutch followed with a four-pitch walk of Minnich, prompting a visit from Matt Hobbs. He bounced back to strike out Kaufer to leave the bases loaded.
T-8th: Texas A&M 4, Arkansas 1
Bohrofen looked at strike three. Wegner put together a nice AB, fouling off several pitches, but ultimately grounded out to second. Slavens grounded out to first to end the inning.
B-8th: Texas A&M 5, Arkansas 1
Right-hander Austin Ledbetter is now pitching for Arkansas. Haas lined out to left to start the inning. Moss followed with a double to right-center. Werner crushed a deep fly to left-center, but Josenberger was able to track it down. Moss tagged up to third on the play. With two outs, LaViolette ripped an RBI single into right. Thompson flied out to left to end the inning.
T-9th: Texas A&M 5, Arkansas 4
Cali singled through the left side to start the inning and then Holt was plunked. That brought up Hudson Polk, who entered the game at catcher after the pinch-hit single by McLaughlin in the seventh. He went down swinging. Bolton then doubled down the right field line to drive in two. That’s it for Garcia.
The new pitcher for Texas A&M is left-hander Troy Wansing. Josenberger singled through the left side. Bolton had to briefly hesitate, so he advanced just to third. That put runners on the corners for Diggs, who hit a grounder to the left side. Werner snagged it, but his throw wasn’t quite accurate and the first baseman couldn’t reel it in. That scored a run and put runners on first and second.
Bohrofen went down swinging for the second out. With two outs, Wegner struck out to end it.
FINAL: Texas A&M 5, Arkansas 4
BOX SCORE – Arkansas vs Texas A&M
Starting Lineups – Arkansas vs Texas A&M
|Texas A&M Baseball||Arkansas Baseball|
|1. Hunter Haas – SS||1. Tavian Josenberger – CF|
|2. Jack Moss – 1B||2. Kendall Diggs – DH|
|3. Trevor Werner – 3B||3. Jace Bohrofen – RF|
|4. Jace LaViolette – RF||4. Jared Wegner – LF|
|5. Jordan Thompson – CF||5. Brady Slavens – 1B|
|6. Ryan Targac – LF||6. Caleb Cali – 3B|
|7. Austin Bost – 2B||7. Peyton Holt – 2B|
|8. Brett Minnich – DH||8. Parker Rowland – C|
|9. Max Kaufer – C||9. John Bolton – SS|
|Pitching: Sr. LHP Matt Dillard||Pitching: So. RHP Brady Tygart|
How to Watch Arkansas Baseball at SEC Tournament
Wednesday, May 24 – Arkansas 6, Texas A&M 5 (11 innings)
Thursday, May 25 – Arkansas 5, LSU 4
Saturday, May 27 – vs. (10) Texas A&M – Noon CT (SEC Network)
Sunday, May 28 – SEC Tournament championship game – 2 p.m. CT (ESPN2)
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 on the weekend / 40-15 overall, 19-11 in SEC play
With a chance to capture at least a share of the division title, Arkansas will stay hot in Game 1 against Vanderbilt and win big. However, the Commodores will bounce back with a pair of tight wins the next two days, preventing the Razorbacks from winning the West. It will be reminiscent of 2018, 2019 and 2022 — each of which ended in Omaha.
Actual: 1-2 on the weekend / 39-15 overall, 20-10 in SEC play
Well, Arkansas baseball still won the SEC West and captured a share of the overall title…but it did miss out on winning the title outright by losing the last two games in heartbreaking fashion. Assume a win over Arkansas State in a midweek game that got rained out and our overall prediction was spot on, while missing the SEC prediction by one game.
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 five major polls. (Collegiate Baseball used to be included, but it was dropped due to severe inconsistencies in its rankings.)
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…
|1. Wake Forest||ACC||—||125|
|8. Coastal Carolina||Sun Belt||-1||92|
|9. Miami (Fla.)||ACC||+1||81|
|11. UConn||Big East||+1||67|
|12. East Carolina||AAC||+2||66|
|14. Dallas Baptist||C-USA||+2||54|
|15. Campbell||Big South||-2||51|
|16. Oregon State||Pac-12||+3||50|
|17. Oklahoma State||Big 12||+4||41.5|
|18. West Virginia||Big 12||-12||40.5|
|20. Texas||Big 12||N/A||24|
|21. Boston College||ACC||+1||23|
|t-22. South Carolina||SEC||-11||22|
|24. Southern Miss||Sun Belt||+1||20|
MOVED IN: Texas (20)
MOVED OUT: Maryland (23)
- SEC: 8
- ACC: 6
- Big 12: 3
- Pac-12: 2
- Sun Belt: 2
- AAC: 1
- Big East: 1
- Big South: 1
- C-USA: 1
More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…