BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
A former Blue Jay looked really good in Razorback Red, White or Cream for Arkansas at Globe Life Field this weekend.
Creighton transfer Jared Wegner continued his hot start with a two-run homer and a three-run triple to spark the No. 8 Razorbacks to a 18-1 run-rule win over No. 9 Oklahoma State on Sunday at the College Baseball Stadium.
That was plenty of runs in support of Arkansas starter Hunter Hollan (1-0), who allowed one run on three hits, walked a pair and fanned five in four innings of work.
He was followed to the mound by Kody Frank, Cody Adcock and Gage Wood for an inning each on a day when Arkansas outhit Oklahoma State 14-4 in seven innings.
The win gave the Razorbacks a 2-1 mark in the College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas after downing Texas 3-2 Friday and losing to TCU 18-5 on Saturday.
“I mean just what a great job by the team bouncing back after a tough loss yesterday,” Van Horn said. “You learn a lot about your team a lot of times after a bad loss or even just a loss.
“They showed a lot. I don’t know the word I am trying to use because I have always thought we were tough. So I really don’t want to use the word toughness because I don’t question that one bit.
“Maybe character. It’s a proud program. Things didn’t got well yesterday, but they didn’t sulk, they didn’t point their finger at each other. They just got some rest, got up this morning and got after it. “
Wegner, who hit a 3-run homer on Saturday night, went 6 of 10 with two homers, a triple, a double, a pair of singles, two walks and 8 RBIs during the weekend.
“I think we did well with the plate discipline,” Wegner said. “We didn’t swing at balls that were borderline up in the count and if they made a mistake, we made them pay for it, which was really, really good to see. I am proud of that.
“That was pretty good. It was a fun weekend.”
Wegner joined with returnee Brady Slavens (4 for 12) to fill the third and fourth places Sunday in the Arkansas batting order – moving up a spot each from the first games.
“We knew at the end of the season last year that we needed another big hitter in the middle of the line up. We got Brady back, we got Jared in and we started thinking these guys could be in the middle hitting 3, 4 or 5 or however we want to do it.
“So far we have got two veteran guys that have really used both sides of the field. His backside triple with two outs and the bases loaded, that was a thing of beauty.
“I mean I would have loved a grand slam, but other than that, that was what I wanted to see, him go the other way.
“They tried to get him out all weekend with the pitchers – they were going away, they were coming in and I think he got hit twice I think at least this weekend and he just kept taking good at bats, taking good swings. He saw a lot of pitches.”
Arkansas scored 10 runs with two outs in the game on Sunday.
“I think it was everybody just stayed within and like the next man will get it done if I walk or whatever,” Van Horn said. “They didn’t think they had to hit a double every time up. They took what they got and when then got one, they did not miss it much.
“It was just a team offense that got it done today…I thought our offense was amazing at laying off borderline pitches early in the count, got ahead in the count, drew walks and and then we scored a lot of two-out runs.
Hollan, a transfer from San Jacinto College, looked sharp in first Arkansas outing.
“It all started on the mound with Hunter Hollan throwing the ball over the plate and mixing it up,” Van Horn said. ” We made a few plays behind him and offensively I thought we did a good job of putting together some big innings.
“Well we know how good he can pitch, especially when he is on. He can throw secondary pitches in any count – 3-1. He’s just got command and when you have command, you can control the baseball and do some damage if you are right and you are feeling good.
“I think today he felt good and once he got threw the first inning, he got better. He could have come back for the fifth, but we hit so long in the fourth that we knew it could possibly be a seven-inning ballgame so we didn’t want to bring him back out.
“But the plan at the beginning of that inning was too bring him back out for the fifth, but then we decided we didn’t need to bring him back out after sitting 30 minutes.”
Hollan enjoyed the runs.
“I really didn’t have my best stuff and had to battle a little bit, but when you have 10 runs in the third inning, it is pretty easy to settle down, pitch and throw the catcher.
“Overall it was a good day for a first win, but got a long way to go.”
Hollan said pitching on Sunday is fine with him.
“I like throwing on Sundays,” Hollan said. “If we are 2-0, I can get the sweep and if we are 1-1, we are not going to lose. I like that role and if I stay in it, I’ll stay in it.”
Wood rebounded from a tough Saturday college debut to pitch a scoreless seventh.
“He have thrown nothing but strikes since he has been here and we wanted to get him back out there if he felt okay and he told us he did,” Van Horn said. “The first hitter he goes 3-1 and you are thinking ‘oh, boy,’ but then he goes 3-2 and strikes him out. We kind of looked at each other and said ‘he is got to do nothing but throw strikes now’ and that’s what he did.
“He got two more strikeouts and threw another ball or two. It was good for him.”
Arkansas wasted little time in jumping on an Oklahoma State it out in the Stillwater Regional last season.
John Bolton had an RBI single and Tavian Josenberger a run-scoring groundout in the second inning before Wegner ripped a two-out, bases loaded and bases-clearing triple to put the Razorbacks ahead 5-0.
Arkansas put up five more runs in the third on Bolton’s sacrifice fly, Peyton Stovall’s two-run single and Wegner’s two-run blast.
Former Shiloh Christian star Marcus Brown’s sacrifice fly did get Oklahoma State on the board in the fourth.
But the Razorbacks came right back with five in the fifth on Josenberger’s homer, Slavens’ two-run double and a bases-loaded walk to Parker Rowland that made it 15-1.
Rowland and Harold Coll had sacrifice flys and Peyton Holt an RBI single in a 3-run seventh s the reserves got in on the fun.
“I feel like we have a little depth position player-wise and we showed that when we got some guys off the bench and they went in there with a fearless attitude and swinging the bat,” Van Horn said.
Van Horn summed up the weekend.
“I told the team that this was a great weekend for us as far as learning. It wasn’t a great weekend because we didn’t win all three, but we learned a lot about our team as far as who could do what, a little about the toughness today with the way we bounced back, but we always felt like that was there.
“The team works extremely hard and I think they like each other a lot and they didn’t want to leave out of here 1-2. I think the motivation really came with the way we kind of got it handed to us yesterday more than who we were playing today. I don’t it would have mattered who we would have played today, we were going to find a way to win the game. That’s what I saw.”
Arkansas will have its home opener against Grambling Tuesday at 3 p.m. in the first of 18 straight games at Baum-Walker Stadium.
“I am looking forward to play at home on Tuesday and I think we play a bunch of games at home,”Van Horn said.
Photo by John D. James