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Beyond the Box Score: Arkansas takes care of business on opening day

Opening day at Baum-Walker ended in victory for the Arkansas Razorbacks as they defeated James Madison University 6-4.

Both pitching staffs struggled at the beginning of the game, giving up nine runs total in the first three innings. Despite the rough start, the Hogs gave up just one run in the last seven allowing them to walk away with a win even though their bats began to cool off.

Arkansas’ pitching staff depth will be tested early this season. Friday’s match is just one of four in a rare four-game series scheduled for this weekend. Only playing three pitchers in game one is a good start, but both Hagen Smith and Gage Cook could theoretically be available later in the series. Neither threw for more than 41 pitches. The Dukes, on the other hand, pitched five. Only Todd Mozoki recorded more than 30 pitches.

The Razorback will take the field again on Saturday, February, 17th at 2:00.

Ace falls short but full house wins the pot

Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Arkansas’s ace Hagen Smith started his season not with a bang but more of a whimper. It was most likely first-game jitters, but the star pitcher was pulled after just one inning.

The lefty walked his first batter (3-2 count), hit his second with a pitch (0-2 count), and allowed a three-run homer on his third (3-2 count). Smith gathered himself and retired three of the next four batters to end the inning, but the damage was already done. James Maddison had Smith’s number today as the Dukes fouled off 10 pitches in the first inning, bringing his total pitch count to 42.

The Hogs pitching staff, on the other hand, is a true full house. Right-handed reliever Will McEntire had a tremendous game pitching 5.2 innings allowing just one run and three hits. In his 71-pitch performance, McEntire threw 48 strikes for six strikeouts.

Future star Gage Wood closed for the Hogs with an impressive stat line as well. Woods faced eight batters and struck out four in just 2.1 innings.

Bats started hot but cooled off

(AP Photo/Michael Woods)
(AP Photo/Michael Woods)

JMU’s ace Todd Mozoki could do nothing to slow down Arkansas batters. In the first three innings, the Hogs were red hot from the plate on Friday afternoon. Arkansas scored six runs on six hits against the right-hander, including two bombs by Jared Sprague-Lott and Hudson White, respectively.

After Mozoki was pulled following the third inning, the Razorbacks hitting started to slow down. The team recorded just three hits in the next five innings. Part of the problem was that JMU never gave Arkansas hitters the chance to get comfortable with a pitcher. Only one of the four remaining pitchers to play in the game would pitch more than one inning, throwing no more than 30 pitches.

Surprise in the batting lineup?

 

Jared Sparague-Lott popped up out of nowhere Friday night. In his two at-bats he recorded a 1.000 batting average and two RBIs, including the first home run for the 2024 season. He was in other words, nearly perfect in his limited time at the plate.

The Richmond transfer has been rather quiet this preseason as other transfers such as Wehiwa Aloy received most of the attention. Aloy was hitting dingers all preseason long and didn’t leave much room in the spot like. But it wasn’t his night as he went 0/3 at the plate, making it to base just once on a walk.

 

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire