Best Guess Behind Stone’s Retaliatory “Guns Up” + More from Hogs’ Texas Tech Win

Stone Hewlett, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs Texas Tech
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

FAYETTEVILLE — It may have just been a midweek game in mid-April, but Wednesday’s matchup with Texas Tech was much more than that to Arkansas’ Stone Hewlett.

The left-hander showed a lot of emotion after recording the final out to earn his third save of the year in the No. 2 Razorbacks’ 5-4 win that completed a two-game sweep of the Red Raiders at Baum-Walker Stadium.

A man of few words when it comes to talking to the media, Hewlett was the exact opposite between the lines. When pinch hitter Garet Boehm went down swinging to end the game, he immediately shouted toward the Texas Tech dugout and even appeared to flash a ‘Guns Up’ in that direction, mocking the Red Raiders’ famous hand sign.

The two-game set with Texas Tech certainly felt more intense than your typical midweek games, but the reaction from Hewlett may have been rooted in his own personal history. The last time he faced the Red Raiders, he was pitching for Kansas and an otherwise solid outing ended with him giving up a 10th-inning walk-off home run.

That was May 19 last season — nearly 11 months ago — but it had to feel good to get some revenge and close out a victory that capped a midweek sweep after his Jayhawks were swept in Lubbock last year. Hewlett downplayed that aspect of it, though.

“It feels good,” Hewlett told reporters afterward. “It always feels good to win, so excited about that.”

As good as that probably felt, it was almost deja vu for Hewlett.

He entered the game after Jake Faherty issued a leadoff walk in the ninth inning with Arkansas leading 5-3. That meant the tying run was coming to the plate in the form of Landon Stripling.

Luckily for the Razorbacks, Hewlett got Stripling to line out to second base and Peyton Stovall was able to flip the ball to first to double off Drew Woodcox for an easy double play.

“It was knuckling and top-spun, so it kinda handcuffed me a bit,” Stovall said. “I didn’t know if it was going to keep going down with the top-spin and I was going to have to go to second to Wehiwa (Aloy), but it stayed up. I kinda saw him in my peripheral get off the bag. I knew that if I caught it, we were going to be able to turn a double play.”

That proved to be a massive play for Arkansas — and not just because it got it one out closer to the win.

Cade McGee jumped on the very next pitch, which happened to be an 89 mph fastball right down the middle of the plate, and crushed it 402 feet to left for a solo home run. Had the double play not happened and the runner was still on base, it would have been a game-tying two-run blast.

Instead, the score was 5-4 and Hewlett had a chance to still end it, which he did with three straight strikes to Boehm.

“Stone there just threw a get-me-over fastball and the guy hammered it,” Van Horn said. “A lot of times you’ll see somebody take one there. But great job responding and striking out the pinch hitter on three pitches.”

The homer was just the second run charged to Hewlett this season. The other came on Feb. 23 against Oregon State when he allowed a leadoff single to potential No. 1 overall pick Travis Bazzana, who came around to score after he left the game.

Wednesday also marked just the sixth time in 16 appearances — the second-most on the team, behind only Will McEntire (18) — that Hewlett has recorded more than just one out, as he’s primarily been a left-on-left specialist out of the bullpen.

“That’s his role,” Van Horn said on March 29. “He’s known it since we recruited him that you come here and this is what we’re going to use you as, and he was all in.”

He’s been nearly perfect in that role, allowing only four hits and three walks with 18 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .121 against him, which is slightly better than Hagen Smith (.138) worse than only Cooper Dossett (.065) on Arkansas’ pitching staff.

It’s a stark contrast to how he performed and how he was used at Kansas. He posted ERAs of 7.98 and 4.68 while averaging about 40 innings over the last two seasons with the Jayhawks, so he’s pitching much more effectively — albeit much less — with the Razorbacks.

“I really just wanted to pitch for the team,” Hewlett said. “I wanted to do my best with whatever opportunities I’ve got. It doesn’t bother me at all. I just want to help the team out and win by any way possible.”

(READ NEXT: Miss any of the dramatic Game 1 of the midweek series? Check out our in-depth recap)

Don’t Doubt DVH

Arkansas baseball fans learned a long time ago that it’s probably unwise not to trust head coach Dave Van Horn. Like any coach, he’s not perfect, but he right a lot more often than he’s wrong. That’s a lesson Wednesday’s umpires will take away from Arkansas’ win — even if they don’t realize it until well after the fact.

The situation in question unfolded late in the game. It started with Jayson Jones taking a 90 mph fastball off his helmet to start the seventh inning.

Van Horn and the trainer met him before he even jogged to first base and ultimately decided to take him out under concussion protocol. Ty Wilmsmeyer was inserted as a pinch runner and remained in the game, taking over in center field and moving Peyton Holt to left field.

However, thanks to a rule passed by the NCAA ahead of the 2021 season, Jones was eligible to return at any point, assuming he was cleared medically.

Sure enough, things worked their way back to his spot in the lineup the following inning. Wilmsmeyer took swings in the on-deck circle, but Jones was on the dugout steps with a helmet on and bat in his hand as Ryder Helfrick pinch hit for Ross Lovich in the eighth.

When Helfrick walked on four pitches to load the bases with two outs, Van Horn re-inserted Jones because he is more of an offensive threat than Wilmsmeyer, the speedy defender. The first pitch he saw from Texas Tech reliever Max Huffling was behind him and actually grazed the back of his thighs for an RBI hit by pitch that made it 5-3 and ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.

Confusion set in after that. Van Horn had been told by home plate umpire Mark Wagers that in the event Jones came back in, Wilmsmeyer would still be eligible to return as long as he subbed back in for Jones.

That’s what he tried to do, as he wanted Wilmsmeyer’s speed on the base paths and his glove in center field for the ninth inning, but after conferring, the umpires — which also included Greg Harmon, Seth Buckminster and JJ January — didn’t allow it.

“When that first happened, I was pretty much informed that he could probably re-enter,” Van Horn said. “Then I was told after they conferred, one of the umpires said, ‘No, he’s in, you can’t re-enter him.’ (So I) just left Jayson in. I kind of thought that might happen. It wasn’t a major ordeal, but I would have liked to have put that center fielder back in there for defense, but I was good with the outfield alignment.”

It ultimately didn’t hurt the Razorbacks, as Parker Rowland grounded out to end the eighth inning and there weren’t any balls hit to the outfield in the ninth, but Van Horn was clearly frustrated about not being able to put his top defensive center fielder back in for the final inning of a two-run game.

Asked for further clarification by a reporter following the press conference, the veteran coach said he asked Wagers about that exact scenario before it unfolded. He said Wilmsmeyer would be fine to re-enter, but Van Horn said he didn’t sound super confident and wanted to check with the other umpires, who eventually talked him out of it.

The rarely used rule was fresh on Van Horn’s mind because it came into play last weekend at Alabama. Mac Guscette, the Crimson Tide catcher, took a pitch off the neck/face area in the third inning of Saturday’s game and was replaced, but re-entered in the 10th inning. Van Horn wanted to know if the backup, Kameron Guangorena, would be eligible to return in the event of another injury to Guscette.

According to the NCAA press release announcing the rule on Sept. 9, 2020, the answer is yes because “the temporary replacement player may again participate in the game as a substitute in the same lineup spot only.”

In other words, Wilmsmeyer should have been able to run for Jones and play center field in the ninth inning Wednesday. A reporter informed Van Horn of that fact when he said he’d be checking the rule later that night.

“Thank you,” Van Horn said. “That’s what I thought.”

Dossett Doubles Career-Long Outing

The best pitching performance of the night was by right-hander Cooper Dossett, as the sophomore threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings on 39 pitches.

It was easily the longest outing of his career. Prior to Wednesday, Dossett never recorded more than four outs, reaching 1 1/3 innings against UCA on March 5 and Auburn on March 22. The most pitches he had thrown was 29 in that UCA game.

Of the nine batters he faced, only one of them reached base and that was a one-out walk by TJ Pompey after Dossett had retired seven straight to start his day.

“I thought he was really good,” Van Horn said. “He hadn’t thrown in a while. Stuff’s good. One time through the order was probably good, and he helped get us through the sixth, seventh, eighth, whatever it was. It was at a time when we needed somebody to come in and give us, not just one, but maybe five or six outs.”

Hogs Use Small Ball

The Razorbacks actually trailed 3-2 entering the sixth inning, but quickly tied it up thanks to a leadoff walk by Peyton Holt and back-to-back singles by Ben McLaughlin and Wehiwa Aloy. The latter of those drove in the tying run.

Despite being tied for second on the team in home runs with seven, including one hit earlier in the game, Nolan Souza was asked to lay down a bunt and the freshman delivered. The sacrifice moved runners to second and third, setting up a sacrifice fly by Jack Wagner that put Arkansas up 4-3.

“That was an inning where we manufactured a little bit, but we also got a big hit or two,” Van Horn said. “Aloy didn’t have a great game at the plate, really, and he was a little frustrated, but he got a big hit there.”

Catcher Parker Rowland laid down a sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning, as well, but it didn’t lead to a run.

Those were just the ninth and 10th sacrifice bunts by the Razorbacks this season, but it’s the third time they’ve had multiple in the same game. They also did it in a couple of other midweek games — against Oral Roberts on March 12 and San Jose State on April 10.

Up Next for Arkansas Baseball

The Razorbacks are on the road again this weekend, heading to Columbia, S.C., for a three-game series against South Carolina. It begins Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. CT. All three matchups will be streamed on SEC Network-Plus.

With a 4-3 win over The Citadel on Tuesday, the Gamecocks are 26-11 overall with an 8-7 mark in SEC play. They’re ranked No. 20 and are tied for third place in the SEC East standings.

Other Arkansas Baseball Tidbits

  • With the win, Arkansas improved to 7-2 in games decided by one run this season. Both of the losses — to Oklahoma State on Feb. 24 and Alabama on April 13 — were in extra innings and the winning run was unearned because of an error.
  • The Razorbacks have now won 25 consecutive home games are are 27-1 at home this season, with the lone loss coming against James Madison on Feb. 18. It’s already the longest winning streak in Baum-Walker Stadium history and longest in-season streak in program history, but it’s now two games shy of matching the 27 straight home games they won spanning the 1984 and 1985 seasons.
  • For the second time in three games, Arkansas got a rare outfield assist from its left fielder. This time, it was Jayson Jones catching a fly ball and firing a strike to first to double up TJ Pompey in the sixth inning. On Sunday, Peyton Holt did in the first inning at Alabama, albeit with the help of a relay throw by shortstop Wehiwa Aloy.
  • That unconventional 7-3 double play erased a one-out walk and resulted in right-hander Koty Frank facing the minimum in his lone inning of work. He threw just 15 pitches.
  • Frank was one of four relievers who combined to pitch the final five innings Wednesday. Include the five relievers Tuesday night and Arkansas’ bullpen allowed just three earned runs on eight hits and four walks with 15 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings in the midweek series. Texas Tech — which came to Fayetteville with the eight-best team batting average in the country at .324 — went just 8 for 44 (.182) against those nine pitchers.
  • Freshman Colin Fisher got the start and gave Arkansas four solid innings, but did allow three runs — two of which were earned — on five hits and one walk while striking out three. He did it on 61 pitches, too.
  • Arkansas’ first two runs of the game came on leadoff home runs by Peyton Stovall and Nolan Souza in the first and second innings, respectively. Here are the metrics — distance, exit velocity and launch angle — of the two long balls:
    • Stovall: 406 feet, 108 mph, 25.2 degrees
    • Souza: 376 feet, 98 mph, 33.8 degrees
  • Speaking of Stovall, the second baseman committed his first error of the season when he dropped a shallow pop up that probably should have been shortstop Wehiwa Aloy’s ball. That happened in the second inning and resulted in an unearned run scoring. He more than made up for it, though, as he not only turned the critical ninth-inning double play, but he also made a sensational diving catch to rob Kevin Bazzell of a hit in the eighth.

Arkansas vs Texas Tech Highlights (Game 2)

YouTube video

Postgame Interviews

YouTube video
YouTube video

Arkansas vs Texas Tech Box Score (Game 2)


More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS… 

Facebook Comments