Aaron Fitt is one of the most influential voices in college baseball.
As a national writer and co-editor for D1Baseball.com, his analysis and takes have the potential to have an outsized influence on how the nation perceives the teams he covers.
Based on his work Thursday night, it looks Arkansas baseball could have no better ally in the national media.
During Arkansas vs. South Carolina Game 1, Fitt wrote some of the strongly pro Razorback commentary I’ve ever seen coming from a national sports reporter.
With the game tied 1-1 in the seventh inning, Arkansas baseball sophomore Robert Moore approached the plate as South Carolina student fans rained down chants of “Oompa Loompa” on him to make fun of his 5’9″ stature. Christian Franklin stood at first after leadoff single.
Result: a two-run moon blast and “hush” to the crowd by Moore on way to No. 1 Arkansas’ 6-1 win over No. 11 South Carolina:
This, actually, was Moore’s second homer on the night.
Apparently, those younger South Carolina baseball fans didn’t get the message the first time around.
“South Carolina might want to look into printing some stat sheets and leaving them on the seats in the student section so those kids know to not mess with the guy with a .986 OPS, 10 HR and 36 RBI,” Bar Stool Sports’ Big Tennessee wrote.
Moore’s impressive 2-for-4 night also inspired Aaron Fitt to Tweet this:
Attn: South Carolina student section: y'all done poked the wrong bear. The fans start chanting "oompa loompa" as #BobMoore stands in the box… And guess what he did with the very next pitch? Nah, you know what he did. Two-run jack, and a no-doubter. 3-1 @RazorbackBSB, T7. pic.twitter.com/K7cSNfIzK9— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) April 23, 2021
“That was probably the hardest ball I’ve hit all year,” Robert Moore said.
“Our approach is take the fastballs the other way and the breaking balls and changeups to center field, but he threw me an inside fastball and my hands just kind of reacted to it.”
Afterward, Fitt wrote one of the most glowing post-game reports ever lavished on a Razorback by a national media member.
“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spit into the wind. You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger. And you don’t mess around with Robert Moore,” he wrote.
“You might need to go back to Dustin Pedroia’s days at Arizona State to find another college baseball player who packed as much swagger into a 5-foot-9 frame as Moore.”
Fitt’s gushing praise is notable since he isn’t an Arkansan (he is based in Durham, N.C.), although being an Arkansan doesn’t ensure pro-Arkansas takes, as Jimmy Dykes and USA Today’s Dan Wolken have shown.
It simply shows how well-respected the Arkansas baseball program has become, a juggernaut that can still pick up plenty of fans from other states. We’ll see if this keeps up if Arkansas starts racking up multiple national titles and entering into a realm closer to what Clemson is in football.
For now, though, Arkansas baseball players can keep rolling and retain a legitimate chip on its collective shoulder.
How to watch South Carolina vs Arkansas (Game 2 and Game 3)
When: Game 2: 1 pm CT
Game 3: 6 pm CT
Where: South Carolina (24-11, 10-6 in SEC)
On TV: On SEC Network or streamed online here.
On Radio: 92.1 FM in Fayetteville
Conway – KASR-FM 92.7
El Dorado – KELD-AM 107.1 (FM Translator)
Fayetteville – KQSM-FM 92.1
Forrest City – KXJK-AM 950
Forrest City – KXJK-FM 106.5
Fort Smith – KERX-FM 95.3
Little Rock – KABZ-FM 103.7
Marshall – KBCN-FM 104.3
Mena – KTTG-FM 96.3
Rogers – KURM-AM 790
Rogers – KURM-FM 100.3
Stuttgart – KWAK-FM 105.5
Texarkana, TX – KKTK-AM 1400
Robert Moore discusses playing for his grandfather in Arkansas vs South Carolina:
Arkansas vs South Carolina Game 1 Recap
Robert Moore, the Razorback second baseman, powered No. 1 Arkansas to a 6-1 series-opening win against No. 11 South Carolina on Thursday evening.
Four Hog pitchers came together in the win to twirl Arkansas’ fourth two-hitter of the season. Caleb Bolden, Ryan Costeiu, Caden Monke and Kevin Kopps combined to allow one run on two hits and four walks while striking out 10 in total.
The unanimously top-ranked Hogs improve to 31-6 overall, including 12-4 in conference play, on the year with the victory. Arkansas, in sole possession of first place in the SEC West, now leads second-place Mississippi State by 1.5 games.
Moore’s first of two dingers came in the second inning. His two-out, first-pitch blast to right center put the Hogs ahead, 1-0.
The Gamecocks tied the ballgame at one in the bottom of the fourth, driving Bolden from the game after his 3.1 innings of work. The Hog starter allowed the only run scored against Arkansas on the night, limiting South Carolina to two hits and three walks while punching out two.
Bolden turned the game over to the Razorback bullpen, and it was pure dominance the rest of the way. Costeiu worked 1.2 scoreless frames out of the pen, striking out two while walking one.
Monke entered the game in the sixth and tossed a hitless inning before giving way to Kopps. The right-hander continued his incredible season, retiring all nine batters he faced.
Kopps threw 34 pitches in three innings, racking up six strikeouts along the way. He came within one pitch of an immaculate inning, striking out the first two batters he faced on three pitches each before inducing a two-strike groundout to finish his opening frame.
While the Hog bullpen shoved, Robert Moore continued to rake in Arkansa vs South Carolina Game 1.
His second home run of the evening turned out to be the game-winner. The Leawood, Kan., native launched a two-run shot to right in the top of the seventh, putting Arkansas up, 3-1, with his 10th tater of the year.
The Arkansas baseball team added one more in the seventh before scoring once in both the top of the eighth and ninth innings, extending their advantage to five runs. Kopps closed the game out, sealing Arkansas’ 6-1 win while securing his fifth save of the year.
(via Razorback Communications)
Background on Arkansas vs South Carolina entering Game 1
Peyton Pallette is coming off his longest start of the season where he threw six shutout frames against Texas A&M. However, his previous two starts were not pretty. He allowed seven runs in four innings to Ole Miss and his start previous to that was three weeks prior when he allowed four runs in one inning to Alabama.
Palette started the season well, not allowing a run in his first two starts, including 4 ⅓ innings against the Texas Longhorns.
After starting the season in the bullpen, Patrick Wicklander has started in each of the last four weekend series. He allowed one or less runs in three of those four starts. His other start was against Ole Miss when he allowed three runs over four frames.
Wicklander has been solid since rejoining the starting rotation, posting a 2.38 ERA for the season. Like Pallette, Wicklander did not allow a run against Texas A&M.
If those two can have as much success in South Carolina as they did this past weekend, then the Hogs should be fine for the series. However, Lael Lockhart was not as successful this past weekend.
He allowed three runs, two earned, over three innings. He has had a few rough starts this season, with the worst coming against Ole Miss just two weeks ago. He allowed four runs over 2 ⅓ innings.
Lockhart has also sprinkled in some very good starts over the season. He allowed just one run on two hits in 4 ⅓ innings against TCU back in February. He tossed five innings of shutout baseball against Murray State as well. He did not allow a run and only allowed two hits to Alabama in 4 ⅔ innings.
The South Carolina Gamecocks have a very good pitching staff. The weekend rotation goes Thomas Farr, Brannon Jordan, and Will Sanders.
Farr posts a decent 3.28 ERA and Jordan has a 3.15 mark. Freshman Will Sanders, who has become the Sunday starter, has an impressive 2.11 ERA. He is coming off six shutout frames against LSU on Sunday.
There are a couple of very good arms coming out of the South Carolina bullpen as well. Andrew Peters has a 1.90 ERA for the Gamecocks in 13 appearances. Brett Kerry also has a good 2.13 ERA over his 11 appearances.
Freshman Jack Mahoney has the best ERA on the South Carolina squad. He has a 1.44 ERA but recently has become their midweek starter and has not been pitching in SEC games, but South Carolina also did not plan any midweek games, so he could make an appearance for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina can hit, too.
Junior Wes Clarke is tied for the NCAA lead with 15 home runs and has 35 RBIs. He is hitting .280 with 32 walks and a 1.128 OPS. However he is currently on a nine-game homerless drought and 12 of his 15 long balls have come in non-conference matchups.
Brady Allen is another dangerous bat for South Carolina. The leadoff hitter for the Gamecocks is hitting .309 and has 21 extra-base hits, including nine home runs to go with his 30 RBIs. He is just 3-14 in his last four games and only has one home run in the past eight games.
Josiah Sightler and Braylen Wimmer also swing the bat well for South Carolina. Sightler is hitting .304 with five home runs and 21 RBIs. Wimmer is hitting .301 with six home runs and 20 RBIs. Sightler hit 2-11 last weekend and Wimmer is 3-15 with a home run over the last four games.
The South Carolina hitters are struggling a little bit, but their pitching is still very dangerous. The Razorbacks will need to get going early with the help of Matt Goodheart. Kevin Kopps and the starting pitchers will need to be on their game in case the Hogs find themselves in a pitchers duel. The series will start Thursday at 6 p.m. in Columbia, South Carolina.