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Diamond Hogs “protect our house” for 25th straight time with 5-4 win over Texas Tech

BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON

FAYETTEVILLE – The one consistent characteristic this season of No. 2 Arkansas’ 25-game home winning – being during the middle of the week or on the weekend – is coming up with a way to find victory on the diamond.

The Razorbacks (32-5, 11-4 in SEC action) did so again on Wednesday in a 5-4 win over Texas Tech at Baum-Walker Stadium, a place they have lost just one contest during the 2024 campaign.

It was the second consecutive day Arkansas had rallied from behind to down Texas Tech (26-13), albeit just a 3-2 deficit on Wednesday instead of the 7-0 hole it faced the previous night.

“Obviously that was a really good win for us,” Razorback head coach Dave Van Horn said. “An emotional win last night, quick turnaround. Guys go to class, we eat at noon, and here we go.

“…I made the comment a couple days ago that I was glad we were playing a Power 5 school and a team that already has 26 wins. They had some good numbers. We were going to have to play good and take advantage of some things to try to find a way to win one of them, much less two.”

The Razorbacks are now just two wins away from tying the school record of 27, which came at George Cole Field in the 1984 and 1985 seasons.

The two-game sweep of Texas Tech gave Arkansas a 9-0 mark in mid-week games with all at home.

Stovall noted that Arkansas, who will travel to face South Carolina (26-11, 8-7) this weekend, has flourished playing at home this season for a variety of reasons.

“It’s pretty cool,” Stovall said. “We love playing here. It’s our home ballpark where we practice every day. To be able to protect our house has been the motto. It’s been really cool for us to go out there and play well here at home while doing it in front of our home fans.”

The Razorbacks jumped ahead 2-1 in the second match up as Peyton Stovall and Nolan Souza hit lead off homers in the first two innings.

But the Red Raiders, who had plated a run in the second on Austin Green’s sixth consecutive hit in the series and an error, took then lead in the top of the third.

Kevin Bazzell did the honors by doubling home a pair of runs off Arkansas starter Colin Fisher for a 3-2 edge.

It stayed that way until the sixth when Wehiwa Aloy’s RBI single chased home Peyton Holt and Jack Wagner’s sacrifice fly.

Jayson Jones was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth to push it to 5-3.

That run proved to be needed as Cade McGee’s two-out, solo home run off Stone Hewlett in the night cut it to 5-4.

Stovall made a great diving stop of a liner to get a double play right before that blast.

“This game’s funny,” Van Horn said. “ You line out, you bloop balls in, you hit hard ground balls at them, you hit choppers that get in. Sometimes you just have to be a little bit lucky, and we were that.

“…The lining into the double play there [in the ninth], that’s the way the game is sometimes. It can be kind of cruel to you. We felt we had a lot of that happen to us this past weekend. We hit balls hard, especially on the ground, but we hit them at ‘em. Over time, it’ll even up. I feel like we might have gotten a break or two today for sure.”

Koty Frank pitched the fifth, winner Cooper Dossett (2-0) the next 2 2/3 innings and Jake Faherty got an out in eighth before giving way to Hewlett after walking the lead off hitter in the ninth.

Van Horn was pleased with the way his pitchers battled a vaunted Texas Tech offense averaging almost 10 runs a game.

The Red Raiders out-hit Arkansas 19-14 in the two games, but left Fayetteville with no wins.

“Well, obviously those guys are veteran hitters and they all have power, too,” Van Horn said. “It’s not like they’re just hitting for an average or getting on base, slapping it all over the place. They’re hitting the ball over your head. They’re all dangerous.”

Photo by John D. James

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