Third-String Catcher Encapsulates Spirit of 2024 Hogs + More from Game 2 vs Missouri State

Parker Rowland, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs Missouri State
photo credit: Craven Whitlow

FAYETTEVILLE — Wednesday’s win over Missouri State perhaps encapsulated the spirit of this Arkansas baseball team the best for 2024.

The No. 2 Razorbacks did nothing flashy, nothing spectacular and got embroiled in a 1-1 pitcher’s duel halfway through the game before winning 8-5. Eight of Arkansas’ 10 hits were singles. The go-ahead run scored in part due to a steal by third-string catcher Parker Rowland – his first at the Division I level – on a botched hit-and-run.

Yet, they found a way to cap off the 2024 midweek calendar with a win, just like they had all 11 other times coming into the night, marking the first time since 2005 that the Razorbacks avoided falling victim in the midweeks the entire year. 

“A guy like P-Row who hasn’t played a ton and he comes in there and looks great,” Peyton Stovall said. “When his name is called he just wants to go out there and do what he can for us to win. (Midweek games) can get draggy and stuff. I felt we’ve done a really good job all year just showing up to the ballpark and playing 100%.”

Rowland may not stay buried in the depth chart for long, though. He has started one game in each of the last two SEC series against Florida and South Carolina and has reached base in each of his last three starts, a stretch that includes two doubles to go along with two RBIs and three walks. Although, despite the steal, Rowland expects his newfound speed to be more of a flash-in-the-pan incident rather than a newfound desire to become a five-tool player. 

“Probably not,” Rowland said when asked if he might become the team’s primary pinch-runner. “No. It was good to get a stolen bag under my belt for sure.”

Double Trouble 

Peyton Stovall had his own stellar day at the plate with a 5-for-5 day that finished with five singles. It was Stovall’s second five-hit game in a Razorback uniform, with the other being a 5-for-6 performance against Auburn in the 2022 College World Series his freshman year.

“He had a couple of hits that were seeing-eye type of hits, and he hit a couple really hard,” Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn said. “He’s hit some balls hard that have been caught, and it’s good to see. It’s good to see he got that fifth hit. Solid line drive to center, didn’t try to do too much. I don’t know. He’s got a good swing and when he gets good pitches and gets ahead in the count, he can hurt you a little bit.”

His Peyton counterpart, Peyton Holt, continued to swing a hot bat and provided one of only two extra-base hits for the Hogs, a homer into the visitor’s bullpen in the fifth. Since taking over with an everyday role in the outfield on April 9 against San Jose State, Holt has reached safely in 11 of 13 starts, going 17 for 43 (.395) with three homers and 23 total bases. 

Diggs’ Struggles Continue

Kendall Diggs finished his get-right midweek start with an 0-for-3 performance with two strikeouts and an RBI on a sacrifice fly. Diggs is now mired in a 3-for-33 stretch with 15 strikeouts that has seen his average dip from .272 to .241.

Pitching Bailout

For perhaps the first time this year, having used eight pitchers the day before, things could have really gotten sticky for the Arkansas pitching staff Wednesday afternoon. However, a night after Gage Wood turned in a solid audition for a fourth starter role should one ever be needed, Ben Bybee might have eclipsed him.

The sophomore right-hander threw four scoreless innings with six strikeouts on just 57 pitches. A double play helped him get through his final frame on just six pitches and he could have gone longer, but he’ll likely be on the board as an available pitcher on Sunday.

“I felt great today going out there,” Bybee said. “I did a good job in my pre-outing bullpen with Parker, us two kind of connected, figuring out what pitches were working today.”

Despite Missouri State scoring three runs in the ninth, the combination of Koty Frank and Dylan Carter pitched the final five innings with minimum fuss.

Up Next for Arkansas Baseball

There are officially no more midweek games remaining on the Arkansas baseball schedule. All that’s left are road trips to No. 8 Kentucky and No. 1 Texas A&M sandwiched around a home series against No. 16 Mississippi State.

That brutal stretch starts in Lexington, Ky., this weekend. The Wildcats are actually tied with the Razorbacks atop the overall SEC standings at 16-5. They are also 33-9 overall and No. 3 in the latest RPI rankings.

Arkansas has won six straight series against Kentucky, including with a sweep in Fayetteville two years ago. The last time the Razorbacks lost one was 2012, when the Wildcats won both ends of a doubleheader after dropping the opener.

Other Arkansas Baseball Tidbits

  • This was the 58th and final time Arkansas faced legendary Missouri State baseball coach Keith Guttin, who is retiring at the end of the season – his 42nd leading the program. The Razorbacks are now 37-21 against the Guttin-led Bears.
  • Both games in the Arkansas vs Missouri State midweek series were “Bark in the Park” days. Over the two days, 132 dogs came to Baum-Walker Stadium.
  • Bryant native Logan Chambers, who previously played at Tennessee, was Missouri State’s starting designated hitter each game and had a solid midweek, going 4 for 7 with three RBIs and a walk. One of those hits was a solo home run in the fifth inning Wednesday. He came to Fayetteville hitting just .259 this season.
  • Former Arkansas catcher Dylan Leach, now at Missouri State, didn’t play in Wednesday’s game after leaving Tuesday’s game early when his arm was struck on a backswing. However, Guttin said he is fine and should be able to play this weekend.
  • Parker Rowland’s steal, although his first at the Division I level, was not his first bag swipe. The speed demon had six stolen bases at Eastern Oklahoma State College in his one season at the junior college level. 
  • Stovall’s perfect day at the plate was only marred by a baserunning snafu in the sixth, when he got thrown out trying to steal second without a slide. “It was a delayed steal,” Stovall said. “I saw right before I took off the ball in the dirt but I thought it bounced away. Next thing I know, he slaps the tag on me and I was like, ‘Oh, this looks terrible.’”

Arkansas vs Missouri State Highlights (Game 2)

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Postgame Interviews

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Arkansas vs Missouri State Box Score (Game 2)


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