The Hog’s offense put up two big innings Friday night at Baum Stadium and starting pitcher Blaine Knight dominated, remaining undefeated on the year, tying a career-high 11 strikeouts over seven innings to help the No. 6 Arkansas Razorbacks to a 9-3 series-opening win over the No. 20 Texas A&M Aggies.
Arkansas (34-15, 15-10 SEC) jumped on the Aggies early, taking a 4-0 lead in the first inning capped by a three-run home run by Carson Shaddy, his 10th of the year. Then, the Hogs added five more runs in the fifth to force Texas A&M starter Mitchell Kilkenny out of the game in what ended up being his shortest outing of the year.
The Hogs scored runs on a bases-loaded walk and a bases-loaded hit by pitch. Junior Eric Cole broke through in the next at-bat with a two out, two-RBI single, breaking the game open. Cole’s only hit of the game came at a crucial point in the game.
The victory is the Razorbacks’ eighth straight at home and improves their total home record to 28-3, which includes a win at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock.
Arkansas holds the lead in the SEC Western Division with the victory. Now at 15-10, the Hogs are a half-game up on the Ole Miss Rebels, who have already won two games against the Auburn Tigers this week. The Razorback’s offensive production came from much of the top half of the lineup Friday night. Arkansas’ Nos. 2, 4, and 5 hitters came away with seven of the team’s 10 hits in the game. Freshman Casey Martin quietly came away with a 3-for-4 night and one RBI, leading all hitters.
Luke Bonfield and Dominic Fletcher also turned in multi-hit performances with two hits apiece. Shaddy cleared the bases with his three-run bomb to put the Hogs up early.
The game was the Razorback’s 28th with 10 or more hits and they are now 23-6 in those games. In eight of their last 12 games, the Hogs have totaled 10 or more hits, six of those games have been victories. Knight gave his strongest performance of the season, working seven innings with only three runs allowed, all off the home run. He also tied his career-high with 11 strikeouts and moves up to eighth all-time in school history with 22 career strikeouts.
Friday’s outing was also Knight’s 10th of five innings or more. He has only gone short of five innings twice this year and has yet to give up more than three runs in each of his last four starts.
Knight gave way to junior Jake Reindl, to start the eighth inning, who struck out four over two innings with one hit allowed. Reindl has been one of the Hog’s best options out of the bullpen lately.