By Nate Allen
FAYETTEVILLE – Pitching one inning each, nine Oklahoma Sooners held the Razorbacks to two runs, six hits and struck out 13 beating Arkansas, 4-2 in Friday night’s fall exhibition baseball game witnessed by an enthused, baseball hungry 6,378 with admission free at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Though outhit 13-6 for the regulation nine innings Arkansas stayed competitive with eight Razorbacks pitchers stranding 13 Sooners.Then in five inning added extra innings, several Razorbacks, pitchers with Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn most praising sophomore Caden Monke and freshmen Peyton Pallette and Blake Adams, shut out OU.
Arkansas scored one during the extra five on Casey Martin’s sacrifice fly.
After Arkansas starter Kevin Kopps survived singles for a scoreless first, lefty Patrick Wicklander during his two innings was clipped for a second-inning run. Brandon Zaragoza, eventually 3 for 4, walked with one out and was doubled home by No. 9 hitting designated hitter Carter LaValley.
Connor Noland, the sophomore from Greenwood joining Wicklander last year as freshmen in last spring Razorbacks’ rotation for a team advanced to the College World Series, pitched through lead off singles in the fourth but was tagged for Tyler Treadaway’s first-pitch home run leading off the fifth. Razorbacks relievers Zebulon Vermillion and Kole Ramage each threw a scoreless frame. Ramage survived the dramatics of his own errant pickoff after LaValley led off striking out yet reaching safely on a third strike wild pitch.
Jacob Burton, the lone Razorback pitcher not finishing an inning started, was tagged for three successive 1-out singles in the eighth. The third one by Peyton Graham netted a run. Burton walked LaValley loading the bases but reliever Marshall Denton extinguished the fire with a strikeout and ground out.
Elijah Trest pitched the ninth and was tagged for Zaragoza’s RBI single after Tyler Hardman doubled.
Heston Kjerstad’s second-inning single and Bryce Matthews’s third-inning walk was all Arkansas mustered the first four innings vs Sooners pitchers Cade Cavalli, Levi Prater, Dane Acker and Ben Abram.
Arkansas third baseman Cole Austin, the graduate transfer via West Virginia and Arizona State with two defensive gems Friday and hitting 2 for 3, walked, stole second, proceeded to third on catcher Brady Lindsly’s throwing error, then scored on Dominic Tamez’s single.
The next time Austin ran he ran into trouble. Trying to stretch his 1-out single to center into a double, Austin was snuffed at second running the Razorbacks out of a potential big inning. For even after Casey Opitz singled and OU second baseman Conor McKenna erred, the Razorbacks didn’t tally in the seventh.
“He (Austin) tried to get a hustling double,” Van Horn said. “He put his head down and never really looked up,” Van Horn said. I don’t think he probably should have gone there but you’ve got to give the center fielder credit. He made a really nice throw that was accurate.”
Offensively and defensively Austin stood out. “I thought at third base he did a great job tonight,” Van Horn said. “He made two really good defensive plays and I think he got a single to left and a single to left center. He made a little bit of a statement that he’s going to help us out a lot.”
After striking out five consecutive times ending the eighth through starting the ninth, the Razorbacks rallied too little too late roughing up reliever Jason Ruffcorn. Austin’s 1-out single following Kjerstad’s triple netted the ninth-inning run. With Casey Opitz hit by pitch, the Razorbacks stranded two as Ruffcorn fanned Bryce Matthews, the third time that freshman left fielder Matthews struck out.
Following a brief break, mostly reserve Razorbacks, other than regular shortstop Martin and regular center Christian Franklin, and Sooners substitutes played another five innings into the midnight hour. “The good things I saw were some of our young pitchers,” Van Horn said. “In 14 innings we only had bad one inning, maybe two.”
Obviously his Hogs struck out too much to suit their coach, but it wasn’t like they faced a run of the mill staff.
“Give them (the Sooners) credit,” Van Horn said. “We just couldn’t come with the big hit. They’re got good arms. A lot of veteran older kids, they’ve got juniors and seniors. We knew what we were getting into when we scheduled them.” They will meet again when it counts Arkansas of the SEC and Oklahoma of the Big 12 are scheduled in the 2020 spring to play each other once a neutral site tournament against once in Norman, Okla.
The Razorbacks complete their 2-game fall ball exhibition schedule Oct. 12 visiting the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater, Okla.
Oklahoma….010 010 011 – 4 13 2 Arkansas…..000 010 001 – 2 6 1
Cavalli, Prater (2), Acker (3) Abram (4), Demco (5), Godman (6), Olds (7). Matthews (8), Ruffcorn (9) and Lindsly; Kopps, Wicklander (2), Noland (4), Vermillion (6), Ramage (7), Burton (8), Denton (8), Trest (9) and Opitz.