FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – With a two-run seventh and a six-run eighth inning, the fourth-ranked Razorbacks ran away with an 11-6 victory over 15th-ranked LSU Friday night in Baum-Walker Stadium. It’s the second-straight game that the Hogs have scored 10 or more runs and first series win over LSU since 2011.
After falling behind 3-0 after the first two innings, Arkansas (39-12, 19-7 SEC) crept its way back into the game with single runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings. The breakthrough finally came in the seventh when Casey Martin’s RBI single to left field allowed Trevor Ezell to score the go-ahead run to make it 4-3. The Razorbacks went on to score seven more times to grow its lead to 11-3., while the pitching staff held LSU’s offense in check, allowing only four baserunners in the third through eighth innings.
With the win, this year’s Razorbacks are now tied with the 2004 team for the most conference victories in the Dave Van Horn era dating back to 2003. It’s also the third-straight year that Arkansas has 18 or more games in league play.
All nine of Arkansas’ starters recorded at least one of the Hogs’ 12 hits in the game. Dominic Fletcher, Heston Kjerstad and Casey Opitz all turned in two-hit performances with Fletcher driving in a team-best three RBIs. Kjerstad notched his 11th multi-RBI game of the year, driving in two runs, including one off a big solo home run in the sixth inning to tie the game at 3-3.
On the mound, freshman Patrick Wicklander didn’t have his best stuff, but only gave up three runs in 3.1 innings, striking out four. The Razorback bullpen were the stars of the night as the Kevin Kopps and Jacob Kostyshock combo held the Tigers to just one hit in 4.2 innings, while striking out five. Kopps picked up his fifth victory of the year after throwing four scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
Kopps entered the game in the middle of the fourth inning after LSU had loaded the bases with one out and a 3-1 lead, looking for insurance runs. Kopps stopped that momentum in its tracks, inducing the 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning with no runs crossing the plate.
Hogs Win First Series Over Tigers Since 2011
For the first time eight years, Arkansas has won a regular-season series over LSU after its five-run victory Friday night. It’s the first series victory since 2011 and a win on Saturday would also be the first sweep of the Tigers since the same year. The Razorbacks have combined for 25 runs in the first two games of the series and are hitting .370 as a team with six home runs and a .671 slugging percentage. Arkansas has scored 10 or more runs in seven of their last 12 SEC games and have had a winning margin of five or more runs in five of those games.
Fletcher Continues Torrid Doubles Pace
Junior Dominic Fletcher picked up his 20th double of the season as part of his two-hit game, driving in two of Arkansas’ final runs in the eighth inning. Fletcher now takes sole possession of first in the SEC in doubles, just one ahead of teammate Casey Martin. Fletcher has three doubles in his last eight games and its his first season with 20 or more doubles in his career.
Kjerstad Matches Home Run Total From 2018
Outfielder Heston Kjerstad mashed his 14th home run of the season in the sixth inning Friday night, which matches his total from a year ago, giving him 28 for his career. It took Kjerstad 11 less games to reach the 14 homer mark this year and his longball total is good for second in the league. The Amarillo, Texas native is hitting .342 in his last 10 games with four home runs and 11 RBIs. He’s now hitting .330 for the year, good for second on the team with 44 RBIs.
“I thought they both did a great job. Obviously (Kevin) Kopps came in and settled it down for us. When he got behind in the counts — Kopps — it just seemed like he could make a good pitch. Then, (Jacob) Kostyshock came in and I thought he spotted his fastball really well. It was running. He’s got a little bit of a knack to get out left-handed hitters and he did it again today.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Kevin Kopps and Jacob Kostyshock
“Yeah, in 2011, that was the game (James) McCann hit the grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when we were down – what, three? – something like that, and then we went on to sweep them. Sometimes a big hit like that can change a whole series. It feels good to win the series. We’re not satisfied. We’re going to do everything we can to win tomorrow.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on winning the first series over LSU since 2011
“We felt like we were going to win the game. We’d come all the way back, they had stranded some runners and we felt like (Zack) Hess was starting to lose a little bit of his fastball. He’s got a great one. He’s going from 95, 96, 97 to 93. That’s a big difference. We’ve seen a lot of that this year. They (LSU) still have some weapons down there.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Heston Kjerstad’s sixth-inning homer being the turning point
“That was huge to have a guy come out of the bullpen like that and slam the door. You know (Kevin) Kopps has done that multiple times this year but he came in and the bases were loaded, basically, a tough spot for anyone to come into as a pitcher, and he pitched it well. He got the ground-ball, turned into the double play and that was huge to give us a little bit of momentum. He was doing work out there and we just wanted to help him out.” – Heston Kjerstad on Kevin Kopps inducing the bases-loaded double play in the fourth inning
“I felt like that was a good momentum shift for our team. On the four innings, I think it just helped to get our offense going and I was trying to make them quick. It kept the momentum on our side.” – Kevin Kopps on his outing helping get the offense going
Arkansas will go for its fourth conference series sweep on Saturday as it will take on LSU one more time at Baum-Walker Stadium. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
For more information on Razorback Baseball, follow @RazorbackBSB on Twitter.