LOS ANGELES – Junior Dominic Fletcher nearly became the Arkansas hero Saturday night after he hit the go-ahead home run in the top of the 10th inning Saturday night at Dedeaux Field. However, USC came back with three runs in the bottom half of the frame, including getting a two-run walk-off home run from CJ Stubbs, to beat the Hogs, 6-4, and prevent the three-game sweep.
The Razorbacks (5-1) and Trojans (3-3) were locked in a pitchers’ duel throughout the majority of the game, but late-game hits provided a back-and-forth battle in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings that eventually took the game into extra innings. Christian Franklin’s RBI in the seventh tied the game at 2-2 and Fletcher launched his first home run of the year with a solo bomb in the 10th. But, USC, with the benefit of the final at-bat, got three hits in the bottom half, including a game-tying single by Jamal O’Guinn followed by the two-run homer by Stubbs.
It’s the first extra-inning game for the Razorbacks this year, but was the second-lowest run output by the Hog offense in the season’s first six games. Arkansas was 1-1 in extra-inning games a year ago. Even with the loss, Arkansas takes the series from the Trojans marking its first road series win since taking 2-of-3 from Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2017.
Nine Razorbacks recorded at least one of Arkansas’ 11 hits in the game. Jacob Nesbit and Christian Franklin, Arkansas’ Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, each posted two hits to lead the team. Franklin drove in two runs for the second-straight night and had one of the biggest hits of the game when his single up the middle scored pinch runner Casey Opitz in the seventh inning, tying the game at 2-2.
Starting pitcher Connor Noland, making his second start of the year, went four innings, but was not as sharp as a week ago, giving up two earned runs on three hits, including a solo home run, with two strikeouts.
Junior Jacob Kostyshock was first out of the bullpen and kept the USC offense in check, retiring the first 10 batters he faced and ended up going 3.2 innings with three strikeouts. Over his two outings this season, Kostyshock has only allowed one run in 8.2 innings and not allowed more than three hits in both outings.
Sophomore Casey Martin, who had one hit on Saturday, finishes the weekend as Arkansas’ top hitter, going 4-for-14 (.286) with three extra-base hits and five RBIs. Four other players came away with three hits in the series including, Trevor Ezell, Fletcher, Jack Kenley and Heston Kjerstad.
Ezell was one of the toughest outs in the series, as he reached base seven times in 15 plate appearances, batting out of the three hole. The graduate senior drew four walks, three in Friday’s game two, and reached on an error twice in game one, while also stealing a combined three bases.
“It was a really good weekend for us. Obviously, we wanted to win game three and sweep the series. USC has a lot of talented players, they have good arms on the mound, and to come out here and win two of three is good. We were so close to sweeping it that would have made it a really good weekend. We learned a lot about our team. We learned a lot about how to coach some guys in certain situations and we learned a little about the toughness of some of our players. I’m disappointed with the loss, but not disappointed with the effort at all.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn the Saturday loss, but getting the series win over USC
“I talked with the team about how fragile the game is. When you’re playing good competition and make a little mistake here, whether it be the dropped pop-up or not getting a bunt down or you just miss a spot. It’s a fine line between winning and losing. We might have lost tonight, but maybe it will help us win a game in a week or two.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on what he told the team after the game
Arkansas returns home for a 13-game homestand next week starting with a single mid-week game against Memphis on Wednesday at Baum-Walker Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will be televised on SEC Network+.
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