Top-ranked Diamond Hogs rout Red Wolves 13-0 in record-setting 18th straight home win

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FAYETTEVILLE – No. 1 Arkansas wasted little time in putting mid-week foe Arkansas State University away Tuesday night while scoring early at Baum-Walker Stadium.

Ben McLaughlin was 3 for 3 with a homer and 3 RBIs in the first three innings alone and the Razorbacks blew things open with nine runs in the third en route to a 13-0 win over the visiting Red Wolves.

The win was Arkansas’ school record 18th straight home victory and pushed the Razorbacks’ record to 24-3 while out-hitting the Red Wolves (16-15) by the margin of 12-1.

It’s the best start since the 1982 team featuring Southwest Conference Newcomer of the Year and current head coach Dave Van Horn opened 27-2-2.

“Just a really good job by our team,” Van Horn said. “Again, they just come out and play, just show up and play, play hard and it doesn’t matter if it is conference or non-conference.

“We took advantage of a few things, but I thought our pitching staff did tremendous job. Ended up walking four on the night, but also struck out double digits (13).

“On the offensive end, took a few walks, got a few hits and created some really big innings. Just kind of put them away in that third inning with the nine spot.”

Seven different Arkansas pitchers went to the mound on Tuesday night with starter and winner Colin Fisher (5-1) going the first two innings and heading up a group that gave up just one hit and fanned 13 ASU batters.

Fisher was followed to the mound by Ben Bybee (1.0 IP, 2 Ks), Jake Faherty (1.0 IP, 3 Ks), Gage Wood (1.0 IP, 2 Ks), Cooper Dossett (0.2 IP, 2 Ks), Parker Coil (0.1 IP, 1 K) and Dylan Carter (1.0 IP, 2 Ks).

“Had to squeeze a couple guys in there,” Van Horn said. “We were planning on throwing these guys today. Whether it went seven, nine, eight, whatever, extra innings. You just kind of see what the game’s telling you to do, but we really wanted to get everyone of those pitchers that pitched in there.”

McLaughlin bounced back on Tuesday after going 2 for 12 last weekend in Arkansas’ three-game sweep of LSU.

“Definitely,” McLaughlin said. “ For me LSU was a tough weekend. I was just trying to get my confidence back and swing back and feel confident going into next weekend.”

McLaughlin, now hitting .315, was clear that his team was not looking ahead to a three-game series with visiting Ole Miss beginning Thursday night at 6 p.m.

The win gave the Razorbacks a 3-0 mark against in-state foes this season.

“This group we’re all just a bunch of guys that want to get out and play every single day,” McLaughlin said. “It’s an instate rivalry and we felt this team was going to give us their best shot and I feel like we came out early and just took advantage of what they were giving us.”
McLaughlin is certain his teammates have a next man up mentality if someone is struggling at the plate.

“Yeah, there’s no doubt about  that,” McLaughlin said.  “For us I feel like we trust ourselves hitting with two strikes so if they are not giving us what we’re hunting we feel more than confident hitting with two strikes and battling and I think that’s what this group does a great job at.”

All 13 of Arkansas’ runs were scored with two outs in the first three innings.

“Two-out hits, especially two-out RBIs, in a way it really bothers the other team,” Van Horn said. “Bothers the other team’s pitcher.”

Peyton Holt’s RBI single and an ensuing throwing error put Arkansas up 2-0 in the first while McLaughlin’s two-out, two-run blast in the second pushed the lead to 4-0.

Ross Lovich had an RBI double and McLaughlin and Wehiwa Aloy run-scoring singles in third.

Nolan Souza’s fourth home run of the season, which doubled as his team’s fifth grand slam of the 2024 campaign, capped the nine-run third inning.

It was a 458-foot blast off the bat of freshman Souza.

“I haven’t been hitting good the last couple of games so when I hit it, I didn’t feel it off the bat, I just saw it go,” Souza said. “It was just a really good feeling and I was happy I could get a good swing off and connect with it.”

McLaughlin has batted anywhere from second to fifth this season and insists he does not have a favorite spot.

“Not really,” McLaughlin said. “Being on this team I feel like whoever is hitting in front of me or behind me is a great hitter. So it doesn’t really matter to me.”

After the game, McLaughlin was awarded the Gorilla, which signifies the player of the game, by his teammates.

“Definitely I feel like it’s something that gives us a sense of swagger as a team,” McLaughlin said. “We’re having more fun. Celebrating more.  Like it’s a lot more loose. A great climate to be around and I think the gorilla started that for sure.
McLaughlin actually finished the game with an inning defensively at third and handled an in-between hop.

“It definitely did because I didn’t even have my own glove,” McLaughlin said.  “I gotta to give a shout out to (third baseman) Jared Sprague-Lott for giving me his glove.  Getting used to that was a little different.”

The Arkansas-Ole Miss series opener will be televised by the SEC Network on Thursday with Dave Neal handling the play-by-play duties and Chris Burke providing analysis.

Photo by John D. James

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