Arkansas completes series sweep of McNeese State with an 18-5 hammering

BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON

FAYETTEVILLE – The fun at the bat rack continued for Arkansas on Sunday against a McNeese State pitching staff that was running on empty.

The Razorbacks (13-2) fell behind 5-4 only to put up 6 runs in fifth inning and 8 in the the sixth to overwhelm the Cowboys 18-5 at Baum-Walker Stadium and complete a three-game series sweep.

Ben McLaughlin had four hits, Ross Lovich a three-run homer and four RBIs and Peyton Stovall, Kendall Diggs and Ty Wilmsmeyer all two hits for Arkansas (13-2) in the rout.

“It was good to see our team respond like that because we hadn’t had too much adversity where we blown a lead or made some mistakes that have cost us,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said.

“It’s like I told them after the game, it’s not going to be easy every game. You’re going to have to fight and come from behind.

“I liked the way that we didn’t panic. We just said, Hey, let’s find a way to get something going here and they did it.”

Sunday’s win came on top of a double header sweep of McNeese (8-8) on Saturday in which Arkansas won 3-1 and 15-5 contests.

“That’s what I mentioned yesterday that we got a lot of big hits and then today, same thing,” Van Horn said.  “I don’t know, concentration level, you got to be good, a little bit lucky, but we got big, big, big hits with two outs and kept adding to leads.”

Arkansas starting pitcher Mason Molina lasted four innings before loading the bases in the fifth with nobody out and his team up 4-1.

“I would say Mason did not command his fastball at all,” Van Horn said.  “Everything was up. He’s hard to hit when he’s up, but he’s got to be in the zone. But he had a lot of bad misses. Those are the ones… When you say a bad miss, the hitter’s really not going to swing at it.”

Gage Wood (2-0) entered and McNeese State used Connor Westenberg’s RBI groundout, Cooper Hext’s two-run triple and Chad Keeton’s run-scoring single surged the visitors ahead 5-4.

But the Razorbacks put up an unearned run to start the bottom of the fifth and then added five-out runs later in the half inning on Ty Wilmsmeyer’s two-run single and Ross Lovich’s three-run homer for a 10-5 lead.

The eight-run seventh-inning was aided by McNeese State walks and hit batters before Stovall, Diggs and McLaughlin all had run-scoring base hits to enact the run rule a half-inning later

Van Horn got a chance to bring in pitcher Dylan Carter in the seventh  – Carter’s first appearance since an injury May 3 of last season when he was 6-0.

“At first, it was nerve-racking,” Carter said. “I’m not going to lie. Just haven’t really been out in a game for so long. Just being able to settle my nerves was a big key.

“Afterwards it was like, ‘it’s time to ride for the rest of the year.’ The rehab process, it’s long. It was very long. Just being able to throw a baseball again after five months was probably the happiest day of my life. Now here we are. I am getting to pitch again. Rehab was long. But I worked hard and was able to be out there with my guys.”

Arkansas will play ORU (7-9) Tuesday night in a 6:30 p.m. game at Baum-Walker Stadium and then host Missouri (8-8) in the teams opening SEC series beginning Friday.

Photo by John D. James

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