FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Kendall Diggs’ three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh powered No. 9 Arkansas (4-1) to a 13-2 run-rule win over Eastern Illinois (3-1) on Friday afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium.
With the win, head coach Dave Van Horn recorded his 800th career victory at Arkansas. He is the second-winningest coach in school history, behind only legendary former head coach Norm DeBriyn (1,161 career wins).
Left-hander Hagen Smith set the tone on the mound for the Hogs, twirling 4 2/3 scoreless innings with six strikeouts in his second start of the season. His only blemishes were three hits and three walks, as he earned his first win of the year.
The Razorback offense broke through for six runs in the bottom of the third, taking control of the ballgame and providing the pitching staff with more than enough support. Reigning SEC Player of the Week Jared Wegner delivered the biggest blow of the inning with his two-run single to center, extending Arkansas’ lead to 3-0.
Peyton Holt, making his first career start at second base, also picked up an RBI single in the inning, pushing the Hogs’ advantage to 6-0. Holt went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI, finishing as one of four Razorback hitters – Tavian Josenberger (2-for-5), Brady Slavens (2-for-4) and John Bolton (2-for-4) – with multiple base knocks in the game.
Arkansas maintained a seven-run lead through five innings of play, but EIU struck back with two runs against the Razorback bullpen in the top half of the sixth. Right-handers Cody Adcock (0.1 IP, 1 SO), Austin Ledbetter (1.0 IP, 1 SO) and Gage Wood (1.0 IP, 2 SO) worked in relief of Smith to close out the run-rule win, combining to allow two runs on three hits over the final 2 1/3 innings of the ballgame.
Ultimately, it was Diggs who played hero in Friday’s series opener against EIU. The Razorback designated hitter punctuated a six-run seventh with his walk-off three-run homer to center, which sealed Arkansas’ 13-2 run-rule win.
Diggs finished the game with a team-leading four runs batted in. He was one of three Hog hitters, along with Wegner (2 RBI) and Holt (2 RBI), to collect multiple RBI in the victory.
Arkansas and EIU continue their three-game series tomorrow afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for noon on SEC Network+ with right-hander Will McEntire set to start for the Razorbacks.
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