FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It’s only been two scrimmages, but Arkansas freshman outfielder Mason Neville has shown why he was such a coveted high school baseball phenom.
The lefty-swinging Neville (6-3, 200), who tripled in a pair of runs in Thursday’s scrimmage, launched a two-run homer on Friday as his Red team hammered the Gray 9-3 in a five-inning contest at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Peyton Stovall homered for the second straight game, blasting a two-run after hitting a grand slam on Thursday.
Las Vegas native Neville was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft’s 19th-round, much lower than he was projected as a top 80 player.
But he set his dollar signing figure high because he believed his best route might be to go to college first.
“Coming here, I know that that I am going to get a lot better and have a chance to win a national championship every year,” Neville said. “That was one of those things I wanted to do going forward to college. I mean what else can you ask for. This place is awesome.”
He conveyed to MLB clubs his intention.
“I sure they knew that I was pretty ready to go to college, I guess you can say ready to go to Arkansas,” Neville said. “…I did make it known right after the draft. It is the place I need to be, it’s the place I want to be.”
Arkansas trotted out 10 pitches on Friday with Brady Tygart and Zack Morris opening the game and Austin Ledbetter, Sean Fitzpatrick, Josh Hyneman, Jordan Husky, Parker Coil, Ben Bybee, Dyaln Carter and Nick Moten all getting work on the mound as well.
“I think we have a top of the line pitching..best staff in the whole country,” Neville said. “Just by having that and getting to see that in multiple scrimmages throughout the fall is going to make us better.”
Jace Bohrofen was among the vets that took Neville under their wings.
“The main one was my boy Jace Bohrofen,” Neville said. “He kind of took me under his wing. He is a returner and kind of knows what it takes, knows I am an incoming freshman and so he got me ready right off the git-go. We work out and stuff in the same group so that is like one of the big brothers for me. That’s my guy.”
Neville is one of several guys competing to start in center field.
“That’s the goal, but like I said, the team is loaded with competition and there are some previous center fielders that were legit and are playing in big leagues now,” Neville said.
“Honestly, all I can do is play my game, stick to my game and see what happens. I am confident in myself and my abilities. It is just a matter of time before I prove it.”
There is a difference obviously living in Las Vegas and living in Fayetteville.
“It’s nice,” Neville said. “I came out here and it is something different and the experience so far has been a blast. I love the team, love the coaches. Just everyone I’ve met so far has made it feel like home.”
After two runs scored via Ben Bybee wild pitches in the top of the third, Creighton transfer Jared Wegner ripped a single to put the Red up 3-0.
Neville then hit his homer to put his team up 5-0.
Bohrofen was hit by a pitch to force in a run to cut it to 5-1 in bottom of the third.
The Red scored two more runs on wild pitches from Motel before Hunter Grimes singled in a run and Stovall launched his blast.
Bohrefen delivered a fifth-inning RBI single before newcomer Caleb Cali, who reached base in five of his six plate appearances over the two days, cut it to 9-3 with an RBI groundout that ended the scoring.
Photo by John D. James