FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Turns out, the 14-2 Arkansas win over Kentucky in first game of Saturday’s doubleheader was just the appetizer.
How about five home runs and 16-9 score for the main course?
Arkansas (16-4, 3-0 in SEC) was quite inhospitable to its visitors this weekend to open SEC play. All those questions about whether the Razorbacks offense could come through against quality competition, yes, those are long gone. The Diamond Hogs dropped a grand total of 39 runs in a three-game sweep over the No. 4 team in the country.
Read that again. Arkansas just manhandled the fourth-ranked team in all of college baseball. And, to think, the fringe element out there were calling for Dave Van Horn’s firing just a week ago when Arkansas lost one single game to Kent State.
Arkansas’ five homers came courtesy of Jax Biggers, Casey Martin, Luke Bonfield and Carson Shaddy. Shaddy had two. Biggers had two on the day after hitting one in the opener of the doubleheader. Shaddy’s first was a two-run shot in the first inning. The Diamond Hogs batted around, scoring seven runs and chasing Kentucky starter Daniel Harper after he recorded just two outs.
Truth is, didn’t really matter who Kentucky threw. Not a single one of the XX pitchers who took the mound had more innings pitched than runs allowed. Arkansas scored one in the fourth, three in the fifth and five in the seventh to open a 10-run lead with two innings remaning.
It was as dominant a series as any team in the nation has had this year, given the competition. It wasn’t, though, perfect. Freshman Kole Ramage left after just 1 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (one earned). His replacement, and usual midweek starter, Kacey Murphy went the next 5 1/3 and gave up just two more.
Arkansas is likely going to jump in five of the six major polls come Monday. The Razorbacks were ranked fifth in one, but hovered around 10 in most of the others. A sweep of the fourth-ranked Wildcats, who were atop the SEC Country power poll too, will help.
Grading the Hogs
In Ramage’s defense, Kentucky entered the weekend the best hitting team in the SEC and he’s a freshman. Murphy kept them pretty well scattered in his work, though Evan Lee struggled to finish things off, giving up three runs in two innings.
Game 1 of the doubleheader was an A+. Game 2, an A+. This lineup is absolutely raking.
The Big Stick + The Arm
We picked him to be the Sunday starter in the preseason. The more we see him now, the more we think he should be that. Murphy just gets the job done, despite not having the stuff of his teammates Blaine Knight and Isaiah Campbell.
This is what Shaddy returned to school for. With a hitter like Shaddy in the 9-hole, Arkansas is as dangerous an offensive team as any in the land.
Arkansas hits the road for two games against Charlotte, Tuesday and Wednesday.