LSU Has Certainly Paid Price for Letting Stovall Slip across State Borders + More from Hogs’ Sweep

Peyton Stovall, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs LSU
photo credit: Craven Whitlow

FAYETTEVILLE — LSU fans had to suffer through a native son leading Arkansas to a rare sweep of the Tigers this weekend.

Peyton Stovall capped the series with another couple of hits, including a home run that proved to be the difference in the No. 1 Razorbacks’ 7-5 win that clinched the sweep of No. 8 LSU at Baum-Walker Stadium.

The Haughton, La., product notched multiple hits in all three games and went a combined 7 for 13 with two doubles and five RBIs, not to mention several web gems at second base.

Not bad for a guy who was never even offered by the Tigers.

“This is always a big series for me,” Stovall said. “Third year, just kind of play with a chip on my shoulder. Obviously, different coaching staff and stuff. Coach Jay Johnson, he’s a great coach and they have a great squad. Definitely growing up and kind of watching them and stuff, it was extra sweet this weekend to be able to go out there and for us to sweep.”

LSU was still coached by Paul Mainieri when Stovall committed to the Razorbacks in September of 2019, so not much blame falls on current LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson’s shoulders.

Despite him being the No. 1 player in the state of Louisiana, Arkansas went after Stovall hard and got him to give his pledge early in his junior year. Even though it was another year before he officially signed, the Razorbacks essentially had him locked up because de-commitments and flipping aren’t nearly as common in college baseball as they are in football and men’s basketball.

Still, that recruiting snub admittedly gave Stovall “a little extra juice” for the Arkansas vs LSU matchup — which, ironically, is exactly what he’s brought to the lineup since returning from a broken foot.

In 14 games, Stovall is hitting a team-high .364 with three doubles, four home runs and 17 RBIs. He’s done that as the Razorbacks’ primary leadoff man, filling in that spot for all but three of those games.

“I think he’s really brought a spark to our lineup,” Van Horn said. “He’s brought a spark to our middle infield. Sometimes, that’s what you need. You need one more guy.”

Making his production even more impressive is that nine of those 14 starts have been in SEC play. He’s actually hitting .382 with eight RBIs over that stretch.

“He’s doing it all against the league,” Van Horn said. “He didn’t get any of them cookie games when the wind’s blowing out 30 mph and the wind’s out of the north, and we’re playing somebody that’s run out of pitching and we’re scoring 10, 12, 15 runs. He pretty much has been doing it against the SEC.”

Here are a few other takeaways from the sweep…

Game of Inches

Sweeps are hard to come by, especially against LSU. This marked just the fifth time Arkansas baseball has gone 3-0 against the Tigers since it joined the SEC in 1992, with the others happening in 2022, 2011, 2004 and 2001.

It nearly didn’t happen, though. In the ninth inning, LSU had the tying runs on base with only one out when superstar Tommy White hit a high fly ball down the left field line. He got all of it – 105 mph exit velocity – but it hooked just foul.

Or at least that’s how it was called on the field.

The Tigers didn’t like the call, thinking it was fair for a three-run homer that would have put them up 8-7, so they challenged it. After the replay, though, the call stood.

“I just kept watching and I just think it went out before it hooked around the pole,” LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson said. “I thought it crossed the line on fair territory, but again it doesn’t matter now.”

Dave Van Horn admitted his heart skipped a couple of beats while the ball was in the air and that he wasn’t 100% certain either way, but defered to third base umpire Javerro January.

“The umpire, he had the best view, and he called it foul,” Van Horn said.

Luckily for the Razorbacks, it was called a foul ball on the field and there wasn’t a great camera angle to show whether or not that was the case.

“How are you going to overturn that?” Van Horn said. “I mean, if he called it fair and I asked him to look at it, it’s not changing. I would be shocked, unless maybe you were in Omaha when there’s 16 cameras and they’ve got three different cameras going at the same time to figure out really where was that ball at this time when it hit the pole.”

One person who certainly disagreed with the call? Tommy White himself, as lip-readers should be able to tell on this replay:

It proved to be a massive call because on the very next pitch, he lined out to third and Jared Sprague-Lott was able to double up the runner at second for a game-ending double play.

McEntire Calls His Own Number

When Dave Van Horn posted the lineup outside the locker room, Will McEntire’s name wasn’t on the list of available pitchers for Saturday’s game.

By the time he retrieved it before heading to the field for pregame warmups, though, his name had magically appeared – albeit in black ink, instead of the red used for everyone else. The investigation was short, as pitching coach Matt Hobbs didn’t hide the fact that it was McEntire who added his name.

Van Horn didn’t mind, though. Even though McEntire had thrown 62 pitches in 2 2/3 innings on Thursday, he was ready to go again Saturday.

“It’s like he’s insurance,” Van Horn said. “You just know you can go to that guy. He’s always ready to pitch, he wants to pitch. He’s like (a) rubber arm, never bothers him. It’s kind of like having a security blanket in a way.”

It was a good thing Arkansas had him at its disposal, too. LSU had the bases loaded and two outs, trailing 7-5, when McEntire was called upon. All the fifth-year senior did was strike out Mac Bingham, who had homered his last two times up, to escape the jam.

“That’s one reason we put him there — because he’s older, he’s been there and he really doesn’t get rattled,” Van Horn said. “He just came in there and did what he does. I’m just excited for him. He’s really having a good year for us and he’s been Mr. Reliable.”

In the ninth, McEntire worked around a one-out walk and single by getting Tommy White to line into a double play that ended the game.

That earned him his third save of the season in what was his team-leading 13th appearance while lowering his ERA to 1.93.

“He’s a team guy, the guys on the team love him, he’s a great teammate and when he goes out there, we trust him a lot,” Stovall said. “It’s not easy sometimes to want to be the guy. He wants to be the guy every single time he goes out.”

Another Quick Response for Arkansas

It has played only three SEC series so far, but Arkansas has already developed a knack for punching back when its opponent scores.

That happened again Saturday. After answering LSU’s leadoff home run with a first-inning homer of their own courtesy of Wehiwa Aloy, the Razorbacks found themselves down 4-1 in the fourth.

It looked like that’d remain the score heading to the fifth, but Arkansas put together a two-out rally that started with a walk by Jared Sprague-Lott.

Will Edmunson and Ryder Helfrick followed with singles to load the bases and Ty Wilmsmeyer delivered the big hit with a two-run single to left. That pulled the Razorbacks within one and on the very next pitch, Peyton Stovall kept the train rolling with an RBI single that tied it up.

“It’s looking pretty good for them and then bang, with two outs I think we had maybe a walk, and then four hits in a row or whatever it was,” Van Horn said. “It’s hard to get two hits in a row and three is rare. But four is big time.”

Stovall’s hit chased LSU starter Gage Jump, who was charged with four earned runs on seven hits and two walks in just 3 2/3 innings. The left-hander entered the weekend with a 2.38 ERA.

Opponents had hit just .154 against him, but Arkansas went 7 for 17 (.412) before he was pulled.

“When you come back like that, it’s the sign of a good team,” Van Horn said. “You don’t roll over. You’re down 4-1 today and lefty’s cruising a little bit out there and you already won the first two games, we just kept fighting. We wanted to win the game.”

A major key to the Razorbacks’ success on Saturday was the bottom third of their lineup.

The trio of Edmunson, Helfrick and Wilmsmeyer went a combined 5 for 11 with a walk, three RBIs and four runs.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re top of the order, bottom of the order, we’ve got guys that can bang the ball around the yard,” Wilmsmeyer said. “Just up and down, really strong lineup and anyone can go off at anytime.”

Welcome to the Show, Kid

When pitchers return from injury, a lot of coaches like to bring them back in non-pressure situations. That’s what Dave Van Horn did a few weeks ago with Dylan Carter.

With freshman Hunter Dietz, though, he opted to immediately throw him into the fire.

In his first collegiate appearance after missing the first part of the season because of a minor procedure after fall ball, the heralded left-hander entered with a 7-5 lead in the eighth inning against No. 8 LSU. The first batter he faced? All-American third baseman Tommy White.

It was about as high-leverage of a situation you could draw up for a player to make his debut.

“As a freshman, if I would have been told I was going to go in against Tommy White, as a competitor I would love that for sure,” teammate Koty Frank said. “What a great introduction to college baseball for him and he handled it really well. I know his stat line may not show it but he threw the ball really well and he’s going to be a big piece for us moving forward.”

Dietz, the No. 57 overall recruit in the 2023 class by Perfect Game, walked White and then gave up a pinch-hit single to Ethan Frey. He bounced back with a strikeout and then nearly induced a double play ball, but the grounder took a tough hop on Wehiwa Aloy and he managed to get only one out.

The left-hander was a strike away from getting out of the jam, but plunked Josh Pearson in a 1-2 count to load the bases. That’s when Arkansas turned to Will McEntire.

Van Horn said the plan all along was to use Dietz after Koty Frank and it just so happened to be in the eighth inning.

The main reason Arkansas was dead set on pitching him against LSU, instead of saving him for a less-stressful situation in the midweek game against Arkansas State, is because it’d like to have him available for next weekend’s series against Ole Miss, which also starts Thursday.

**Check back later for more takeaways from Game 3 of Arkansas vs LSU**

Up Next for Arkansas Baseball

The Razorbacks will continue their home stand with a midweek matchup against in-state foe Arkansas State on Tuesday before welcoming Ole Miss to town for another series beginning Thursday.

Much like Arkansas, the Red Wolves concluded their weekend series Thursday. They beat Georgia Southern 6-3 to salvage a game after dropping the first two. That makes Arkansas State 16-14 overall and 3-6 in Sun Belt play.

No starting pitcher has been announced by the Razorbacks, but it will likely be right-hander Ben Bybee. He threw three scoreless innings against Little Rock in his season debut last Tuesday and was not on the 27-man roster this weekend.

Other Arkansas Baseball Tidbits

  • The announced attendance for Game 3 of Arkansas vs LSU was 10,924. That brings the three-game total for the series to 33,107, as the first two games each cracked 11,000.
  • Arkansas has now won 17 consecutive home games, which is its longest such streak since Baum-Walker Stadium opened in 1996.
  • This is the third straight year the Razorbacks have won a series against the defending national champions. They took two of three against Mississippi State in 2022 and Ole Miss in 2023.
  • Making his seventh start of the year, right-hander Brady Tygart lasted just four-plus innings and was charged with four earned runs on five hits and no walks while striking out three. He did plunk a batter, though, and three of those hits left the yard. “He just didn’t locate it where he wanted it,” Van Horn said. “He threw it for a strike, but it was kind of more in the middle of the plate. Those are things that, he cleans that up, he stays in the game for a while.”
  • Right-hander Koty Frank needed only 29 pitches to get through three innings of relief for Arkansas. He gave up just two hits, but one of those was a solo home run, so he was charged with an earned run.
  • The two teams combined for six home runs Saturday afternoon, with LSU accounting for four of them. Those long balls actually accounted for all five of the Tigers’ runs. Mac Bingham hit two of them – they traveled 414 and 436 feet – while Tommy White led off the game with a homer and Ashton Larson hit a two-run shot in the third inning. “I just thought it was going to be a high-scoring game after the way I saw the ball flying,” Van Horn said. “It just seemed like the air was thin, something going on.”
  • Here are the metrics – distance, exit velocity and launch angle – for the two home runs hit by Arkansas:
    • Wehiwa Aloy: 380 feet, 112 mph, 
    • Peyton Stovall: 379 feet, 104 mph, 33.7 degrees
  • In addition to the aforementioned home run, LSU’s Tommy White also walked in the finale against Arkansas, but his other three at bats ended with double plays. He grounded into 6-4-3 and 5-4-3 double plays, plus lined into the double play that ended the game.

Arkansas vs LSU Highlights (Game 3)

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Postgame Interviews

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Arkansas vs LSU Box Score (Game 3)


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