Blowout Loss Is Actually Great News for Hogs Considering DVH Era Trend

Dave Van Horn, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs Texas A&M
photo credit: Craven Whitlow

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Arkansas got walked-off for the second time in three games, getting run-ruled by Texas A&M 14-4 in seven innings to cap the regular season.

Ryan Targac, wearing the famed No. 12 for the Aggies, moved from the first base coach’s box to the batter’s box to deliver an RBI single that put a sour ending to Arkansas’ otherwise successful regular season, which includes the final SEC West title and a likely top-8 national seed.

Plus, as seen in the trend discussed below, losing like this on the final day of the regular season might not be the kiss of death some fans may believe.

Hogs Walked Off…by the 1B Coach?

Ryan Targac applied the coup de grace with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh. Texas A&M scored the game’s final 10 runs, including six in the sixth and three in the seventh.

Although he started 123 games across the past two seasons, Targac has seen his playing time diminish significantly this year, making just 17 starts for the Aggies. So much so that Texas A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle had Targac become a coach for the team starting May 12 against Ole Miss.

However, it was Targac, on his senior day, who walked off the Razorbacks and exited to a curtain call, punctuating a dominant offensive display against Arkansas.

(READ NEXT: UA Legend Nick Schmidt Has Much to Say About Hagen Smith)

Bats Heat Up Under Texas Sun

Arkansas came into the weekend with 42 fewer home runs than Texas A&M, but Arkansas had the most important long ball of the series so far in Hudson White’s three-run division-clinching homer Friday night.

For the first few innings, it looked like the 87-degree weather woke up both team’s bats, as the Razorbacks and Aggies traded a pair of homers in the first three innings. Texas A&M hit a pair of two-run homers in the first two innings off starter Will McEntire — one from potential 2025 first-round draft pick Jace LaViolette in the first and one from left fielder Caden Sorrell in the second.

Arkansas countered with their two best power threats of late. Both White and Wehiwa Aloy hit homers for the second straight game, but this time it was Aloy’s turn to hit the dramatic 3-run homer. His game-tying homer in the third just cleared the left field wall, traveling 360 feet, to erase a 4-1 deficit.

The Aggies’ two other big bats, Gavin Grahovac and Braden Montgomery, also homered. Those two, plus LaViolette, have combined for 73 home runs this season, which is one fewer than how many Arkansas has hit as a team.

Poor Sixth Inning Explodes on Arkansas

The game was still well within reach entering the bottom of the sixth. Braden Montgomery hit a go-ahead solo homer in the bottom of the third, 436 feet down the right field line, but the two teams traded zeroes in the fourth and the fifth.

Things unraveled in the sixth, though. The eight and nine-hole hitters led off the inning with back-to-back hits down the left field line to put two runners in scoring position. Freshman Ryder Helfrick, catching for the first time in the series, struggled to keep balls in the dirt in front, and allowed two vital insurance runs to score on separate wild pitches. 

“I think [Helfrick] was about to have a heat stroke it seemed like,” Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn said. “He was having trouble catching and red-faced. And it’s 93 degrees here, super humid. Catching, sweating, just needed to get him out and [Parker] Rowland got an inning.”

The pitching staff didn’t help matters either. Van Horn needed a combination of Ben Bybee, Stone Hewlett and Dylan Carter just to get out of the inning. The Aggies sent nine batters to the plate and put the game away when Ted Burton split the outfielders in right-center for a bases-clearing double to make the score 10-4.

For the final four innings, Arkansas bats were shut down by Chris Cortez and Zane Badmaev. Arkansas loaded the bases in the fifth without the benefit of a hit with two walks and a hit batter, but could not score as Ben McLaughlin flew out to left. 

Dossett Leaves with Injury

Cooper Dossett left the game after pitching 1 1/3 innings in relief of McEntire. He issued a four-pitch walk to designated hitter Hayden Schott before exiting with a trainer. 

“Only just preliminary, but doc said it’s still structurally sound,” Van Horn said. “We don’t know. We’ll find out as soon as we can and get him looked at with an MRI.” 

In 14 appearances this season, the right-hander has a 5.17 ERA, 20 strikeouts and 7 walks across 15 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .137 against him.

Up Next for Arkansas Baseball

The regular season is in the books. Arkansas baseball will remain on the road, heading to Hoover, Ala., for the SEC Tournament next week.

As the SEC West champion, the Razorbacks will be the 2 seed, which means they get a bye into the double-elimination portion of the event. Their first game will be Wednesday, with first pitch around 1 p.m. CT. (It’s the second game of the morning session, which starts at 9:30 a.m.)

Arkansas will play the winner of the single-elimination matchup between 7 seed Alabama or 10 seed South Carolina in the second game of Tuesday’s morning session.

Following the SEC Tournament, the Razorbacks will enter the most important part of the season: the NCAA Tournament. As mentioned above, they’ll likely be a top-8 seed, which means hosting a regional and, if they win that, hosting a super regional.

As disappointing as Saturday’s loss was, there is a precedent for Arkansas overcoming a double-digit loss in its final game of the regular season. In fact, it’s happened twice before – in 2009 and 2022. In both of those seasons, the Razorbacks made a run to the College World Series semifinals.

It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first time Arkansas lost two of three games in College Station to end the regular season. It also happened in 2019, which was also a College World Series year for the Razorbacks.

Other Arkansas Baseball Tidbits

  • Ben McLaughlin took ball four to start the fourth inning for his 48th walk of the season. That is tied for ninth on the UA’s single-season list, matching Tim Thomas (1992) and Andy Wilkins (2009). He needs just three more to break the Van Horn era record of 50, which was set by Jake Dugger in 2004 and matched by Andrew Benintendi in 2015.
  • Peyton Holt, who was an infielder until midway through this season, started a game in all three outfield spots this weekend. He was in right field on Thursday, in center on Friday and in left on Saturday.
  • Texas A&M started the exact same lineup against Arkansas all three games. Arkansas has only started the same lineup in back-to-back games once (Game six and seven of the season in Arlington). 
  • Despite the two homers allowed, Will McEntire picked up the 200th strikeout of his career with his second-inning strikeout of shortstop Ali Camarillo. It was the second time Camarillo was on the receiving end of a Razorback milestone, also being Hagen Smith’s historical 346th strikeout. 
  • Both coaches were quick to point out that the work is still ahead for both teams…
    • “We need to rest up a little bit,” Van Horn said. “Hydrate and eat. I’m sure some guys lost some weight out here the last few days. Get ready for the run.” 
    • “We haven’t won one championship unless you want to count the games in Arlington where I think they gave us a trophy,” Schlossnagle said. 

See more from Arkansas vs Texas A&M here:

Arkansas vs Texas A&M Highlights (Game 3)

Postgame Interviews

Arkansas vs Texas A&M Box Score (Game 3)

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More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS… 

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