Unlikely Spark Ends 44-Inning Drought + More from DH Split at South Carolina

Parker Rowland, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs South Carolina
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

Arkansas’ offense was down bad. That is, until getting a spark from a very unlikely source.

Making his first SEC appearance in nearly a month, Parker Rowland’s RBI double off the wall opened the floodgates in the No. 2 Razorbacks’ 9-6 win over South Carolina in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader, which started with a 6-3 loss to the Gamecocks earlier in the day.

The swing by Rowland, who had been just 3 for 17 (.176) and hadn’t started a conference game since March 22, was Arkansas’ first RBI hit with a runner in scoring position in 44 innings against SEC competition.

“I just decided to go with the veteran guy,” Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn said. “Game was very, very important, I just wanted him back there. I think he’s been swinging the bat really well in practice. I just felt like a left-handed hitter against their starter would probably be to our advantage and it was.”

Over that 44-inning stretch, the Razorbacks (34-6, 14-4 SEC) scraped by with a mish-mash of sacrifice flies, RBI groundouts and an occasional jolt with a solo homer, but the big hit had eluded the Razorbacks since the third inning of the Alabama series opener, when Hudson White drove in Jared Sprague-Lott from second with a single.

The Razorbacks ended up going 6 for 16 with runners in scoring position in the finale against the Gamecocks (27-13, 9-9) after going just 2 for 25 in those situations over the first two games, with neither of those hits scoring a run.

That clutch hitting helped Arkansas avoid dropping the last two games of the series after winning Game 1 for the second weekend in a row.

Game 1: South Carolina 6, Arkansas 3

For the fourth straight SEC game, Arkansas found itself giving up the first run largely because of its inability to score runs.

The Hogs left 13 runners on base and despite outhitting South Carolina 12-9, found themselves down by four heading into the top of the ninth. Miraculously, in a 6-2 game, Arkansas got the go-ahead run to the plate with just one out after a leadoff homer off the bat off Peyton Stovall and three straight one-out singles from the 3-4-5 part of the lineup.

The trio of Wehiwa Aloy, Kendall Diggs and Nolan Souza (pinch hit for with Jack Wagner in the seventh) had come into the inning a combined 0-for-10.

However, the RISP woes continued as Peyton Holt, who otherwise had a great weekend, grounded into a forceout at home and Jayson Jones struck out to end the game. 

Game 2: Arkansas 9, South Carolina 6

The Razorbacks’ three-run second inning capped by Parker Rowland’s aforementioned RBI double was set up by a plethora of South Carolina miscues.

First, a routine grounder hit to the shortstop Lee Ellis pulled first baseman Gavin Casas (younger brother of Boston Red Sox first baseman Tristan Casas), allowing Souza to reach. With the bases loaded, Gamecocks’ starter Dylan Eskew appeared to induce the perfect 6-4-3 inning-ending double play off the bat of Wagner, but second baseman Parker Noland’s throw pulled Casas off the bag again and allowed the first run of the game to score. On the very next pitch, the second run scored on a wild pitch.

“They turn the double play, we don’t score,” Van Horn said. “When teams make mistakes, you gotta take advantage of it and that’s what they did.”

Arkansas saw its lead cut to just a solitary run with a pair of RBI doubles, one in the third and one in the fifth, before finally breaking down the dam with a five-spot in the seventh.

Rowland kicked the inning off with a walk before four straight hits ensured that Arkansas would at least salvage a split of the doubleheader. With runners on the corners and one out, Stovall scored the Hogs second run on a wild pitch before back-to-back RBI hits from Aloy and Diggs blew the game wide open.

All the while, Brady Tygart turned in his longest outing of the season since the second week of the year against Oklahoma State, going six innings and allowing just two runs and striking out six on only 85 pitches, 59 for strikes. 

“I learned how to throw strikes again,” Tygart said simply.

Molina Approaches Hagen Smith Levels

If Tygart learned how to throw strikes, then Saturday’s first starter, Mason Molina, is definitely still searching.

With Molina’s seven walks in 3 1/3 innings of work, he has now walked 28 in 46 2/3 innings this season, which equates to a 5.4 per nine innings. That is actually slightly higher than Hagen Smith’s rate of 5.3 in 2023. Largely considered Smith’s weakness before this season, he has cut that to 3.7 this year.

Molina was mostly able to avoid major damage, being charged with just two earned runs, but threw only 30 of his 70 pitches for strikes and issued four four-pitch walks. Playing on Molina’s California In-and-Out roots, one could say he issued a 4×4.

Another Name Enters Mix for Bullpen Stable 

The only good thing to happen in Game 1 of the doubleheader was that Parker Coil continued his good run of form, despite the final stat line being rather harsh to the sophomore lefty.

Coil allowed three runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings of work, but all three runs scored when Koty Frank inherited the bases loaded in the sixth and allowed all the runners to come home. Coil came into a jam of his own in the fourth, with runners on first and second and just one out, and was able to put up a zero.

He also proved that pitchers are athletes. With the bases loaded, South Carolina catcher Cole Messina hit a bullet up the middle that caught Coil on the arm. Coil spun, recomposed, found the ball and fired a missile home to get the force out at the plate. He even had a battle scar to show for it.

Troubling Trend for McEntire

There was always going to be some regression in the Will McEntire fairytale start to the season, one in which he was battling Hagen Smith for the team lead in ERA (and actually took the lead for a few days on April 6 by 0.01), but the shift has been both steep and sudden.

Just two weeks later, McEntire’s ERA has nearly doubled from 1.75 to 3.21. He’s been charged with eight earned runs in his last four appearances, including three in Game 2 of the doubleheader in just two innings of work after being charged with just seven earned runs in his first 15 appearances of the year.

Up Next for Arkansas Baseball

The Razorbacks will be back in the Natural State next week, beginning with their annual trip to North Little Rock. They’ll play UAPB at 6 p.m. CT inside Dickey-Stephens Park, the home of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers.

Unlike past seasons, that game will actually be available to watch on SEC Network-Plus.

After that single game, Arkansas will return to Baum-Walker Stadium for a three-game series against Florida that begins at 7 p.m. CT Friday. The first two games of that series will be nationally televised, first on SEC Network and then ESPN2 on Saturday.

Other Arkansas Baseball Tidbits

  • Wehiwa Aloy’s on-base streak has now reached 30 games, extending it in the seventh inning of both games. He was hit by a pitch in an 0-2 count in the first game and then singled in Game 2 of the doubleheader. He and first baseman Ben McLaughlin also remain the only two players to start every game for the Razorbacks.
  • In Arkansas’ big seventh inning, Will Edmunson technically took an at bat as the catcher. That’s because he replaced starting catcher Parker Rowland as a pinch runner when he drew a leadoff walk and the lineup made its way back around to him. He ended up lining out to end the inning and was promptly replaced by Hudson White.
  • Both Peytons (Stovall and Holt) led the team this weekend with five hits. They are now first and second on the team in batting average – Holt at .346 and Stovall at .330.
  • South Carolina star Ethan Petry is probably sick of seeing the Razorbacks. He went 0 for 11 with two walks and five strikeouts this weekend and is now just 1 for 22 with 12 strikeouts in his career against Arkansas. That’s surprising considering he has a career .354 batting average for the Gamecocks.

Arkansas vs South Carolina Highlights

Game 2

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Game 3

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Postgame Interviews

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Arkansas vs South Carolina Box Scores

Game 2

Game 3


More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS… 

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