FAYETTEVILLE — Santa Clara jumped on Arkansas starter Hunter Hollan in the first inning, but couldn’t hold the Hogs and what was to come in a 13-6 loss at Baum-Walker Stadium in front of 11,078 fans.
Santa Clara took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first with three hits among their first four hitters. After JonJon Berring flied out the Broncos put together three hits in a row. Dawson Brigman singled to center field. Michael O’Hara followed with a double to left. Efrain Manzo then singled to center field allowing both Brigman and O’Hara to score. Santa Clara coach Rusty Filter talked about the start.
“What an experience,” Filter said. “Great venue. Really appreciated the support from the fans talking to us prior to the game. Really put us in a situation to be able to go out there and feel comfortable in the environment. I think things started out very well. I think our first three (actually four because leadoff had fly out) batters we had two runs on the board and runner on second base. We were able to chase their starter by the third inning.”
Starting pitcher Cole Kitchen went three innings and didn’t allow a hit, but walked four. In all the Broncos walked 10 Razorbacks while allowing 10 hits. The Broncos actually had 13 hits of their own, but the free passes to the Hogs was just too much to overcome.
“I don’t think we had given up a hit going into the fourth then things started to fall apart for us on the mound,” Filter said. “I can’t remember the last time that we’ve walked 10 batters and hit two. Very uncharacteristic of our club. I think it was a good game until the fifth inning.
“We knew going in that Arkansas is probably the only team we’ve played all year that sees more pitches per plate appearance than we do. I think they’re 3.98, we’re 3.92. Really good job of being patient, getting their pitch. We were unable to get the count into our favor, stay ahead in the count. They made us pay for it. A couple of home runs. Once again, the walk totals.”
Skylar Hales followed Kitchen to the mound. Hales (6-5) took the loss. He allowed five hits, four runs, one walk and struck out two in a couple of innings of work. Arkansas scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth. They also added five more in the sixth and three in the seventh.
The Broncos actually had a shot in the fifth when Manzo shot a two-out double to left field off Will McEntire. Coleman Brigman then delivered an RBI-double to left field plating Manzo. But that was all for Santa Clara until the eighth when they scored two including a solo home run to left field by Eamonn Lance. They also added a run in the top of the ninth.
“Proud of my team to continue to compete and score late,” Filter said. “That’s what we do we fight to the finish. Looking forward to tomorrow whoever we play.”
Most of the fans at Baum-Walker Stadium were Arkansas followers. However, Filter’s mother was among the Santa Clara fans in attendance though the Hogs winning was a nice consolation prize for her.
“Pat Filter is my mom and she lives in Harrison, Filter said. “Her and my father were there. My father passed away about three year’s ago. Worked on a cattle farm there. We’re pretty familiar with the people in these parts. I didn’t tell you that early on, but it’s really nice to be able to have my mom come to the game. Obviously she is a Rusty Filter fan first, but she loves her Hogs. She loves football, she loves baseball. She’s all about it. I think it was nice probably for her. Wanted us to win, but just a great experience. That was a special moment for me.”
Santa Clara (35-19) will face the TCU-Arizona loser on Saturday at 2 p.m. in an elimination game.