Pitching led the way once again for the 10th-ranked Razorback baseball team on Wednesday as five Hog hurlers combined for only four hits allowed and 10 strikeouts in an 11-1 eight-inning victory over Western Illinois at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Prior to the game, both head coaches from Arkansas and Western Illinois agreed to put a run-rule in place if either team had a 10-run lead after seven innings were played. The Razorbacks reached that limit in the bottom of the eighth as pinch hitter Matt Goodheart singled home the winning run in his only plate appearance of the day.
Redshirt sophomore right-hander Marshall Denton made his first start of his career and worked three scoreless innings, giving up only two hits, no walks, and tallying three strikeouts. Freshmen Evan Taylor and Elijah Trest followed, then Zebulon Vermillion and Liam Henry finished the final two innings.
Denton has only given up one earned run in his 10 innings this season and struck out 15. Wednesday’s three-inning outing was his second-longest of his career and the strikeout total was the second-most as well.
The combo of Denton followed by Taylor was practically untouchable. Taylor, making his fifth appearance of the year, threw two hitless innings, allowing only one walk and he struck out a season-high four. Taylor has yet to give up a run in his 5.1 innings this year and has only walk three.
Offensively, Casey Martin, Trevor Ezell, Dominic Fletcher and Jacob Nesbit all turned in multi-hit games. Fletcher drove in a team-best three RBIs, one off a sacrifice fly in the fourth and the other two off a hard-hit double to straightaway centerfield, making it 9-1 Razorbacks.
It was Fletcher’s second multi-hit performance in four games and first three-RBI game of the season. He’s also reached base in seven-straight games dating back to the series finale against Stony Brook on March 2.
Arkansas (14-2) was well on its way to logging its third-consecutive shutout before the Leathernecks scored its lone run in the sixth inning. It snapped a streak of 23-consecutive scoreless innings thrown by the Razorback pitching staff going back to its 11-0 shutout of Louisiana Tech last Sunday.
Not only have the runs been at a premium, but the strikeout-to-walk ratio continues to climb as the team heads into conference play against Missouri this weekend. After 16 games, Arkansas pitchers have racked up 183 strikeouts to 45 walks, good for a 4.07 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Wednesday’s game against Western Illinois marked the ninth time in the last 10 games that Hog pitchers have struck out 10 or more and ninth time they’ve walked two or less.
“I thought that Marshall Denton did a great job getting us off to a good start on a windy day. He didn’t give them anything, no walks, just kept throwing strikes and we fielded the ball and got back in the dugout. Pretty much everyone we put out there did their job. I think we walked them one time on the day and gave up four or five hits, but we were never really in any danger of giving up a big inning, so that was good.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Marshall Denton’s start and the rest of the pitching staff
I feel like everybody’s healthy. That’s always a big concern. We’ve played 16 games and the competition is varied. I thought for the most part, you take away maybe four or five innings throughout the first 16 games, we’ve played pretty solid defense and made some really good plays in the field. We’ve thrown a lot of strikes. We don’t walk a lot of people. I think anytime you’re coaching a team in baseball and you feel like the team is going to make the other team beat you, because we haven’t been beating ourselves too much. That’s how you knock off some wins..” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on the way the team is playing heading into conference play
“It’s going to be awesome. I’m expecting a big crowd on Friday night opening weekend of SEC play. Both teams are going to be amped up to play since we’re finally going into conference play. The hard part of the season starts now, so I’m ready to go. Just ready to touch the rubber on 6:30 Friday night.” – Isaiah Campbell on getting the ball on Friday night against Missouri
Arkansas opens SEC play this weekend against Missouri with a three-game set starting on Friday at Baum-Walker Stadium. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m. and will be televised on SEC Network+.