Arkansas wins regional opener over SEMO | Arkansas Democrat Gazette (2024)

FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas baseball team blew an eight-run lead Friday but still won by eight runs in the first game of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional.

The No. 5 national seed Razorbacks homered six times and defeated Southeast Missouri State 17-9 in front of an announced 11,062 at Baum-Walker Stadium.

Arkansas (44-14) is scheduled to play Saturday at 8 p.m. against the winner of Friday night’s game between the region’s No. 2 and 3 seeds, Louisiana Tech and Kansas State. The winner of Saturday’s late game will move into the regional championship round.

SEMO (34-26), the region’s No. 4 seed, will play the loser of Friday night’s game in an elimination game Saturday at 2 p.m.

After the Redhawks tied the game with a three-run home run by Josh Cameron in the top of the fifth inning, Wehiwa Aloy and Kendall Diggs each hit two-out solo home runs in the bottom of the inning to give the Razorbacks a 10-8 lead.

Aloy’s team-leading 14th home run was hit 427 feet, 107 mph off the bat against right-hander Collin Wilma to put Arkansas ahead 9-8. Following a pitching change to lefty Logan Katen, Diggs homered 353 feet the opposite way to left field — his first home run since a March 28 game against LSU.

Ben McLaughlin hit his second three-run home run of the game in the seventh inning to give the Razorbacks a 14-9 lead and some breathing room. McLaughlin went 3 for 5 with 6 RBI, his most since a 2021 game while playing for Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.

Both teams went to the bullpen early and often after starting pitchers battled wet conditions. A light rain fell for much of pregame and into the third inning.

Arkansas threw five pitchers and the Redhawks threw six.

The Razorbacks chased SEMO left-hander Haden Dow after just five outs. Dow allowed a one-out solo home run to Hudson White in the first inning and left the game after Arkansas kick started a seven-run inning against him in the second.

Dow was trailing 3-0 when he walked White with two outs to load the bases in the second. Three more runs were charged to Dow, who allowed 6 runs (3 earned) 3 hits and 1 walk in 1 2/3 innings.

The big second inning began with a one-out hustle double by Aloy. Diggs was hit by a pitch before Peyton Holt’s RBI single and a potential double-play ball was booted by SEMO second baseman Brooks Kettering.

Jared Sprague-Lott added a two-run single to center field and McLaughlin hit a 385-foot, three-run home run to right to put the Razorbacks ahead 8-0.

But SEMO responded with a four-run third inning against Arkansas starter Mason Molina. Three runs followed walks by Molina and Ben Palmer’s three-run home run was his team-leading 18th.

Molina was replaced after the homer, a five-pitch walk, a double and a hard-hit sacrifice fly in consecutive at-bats.

Making his first start since May 12, Molina allowed 4 runs, 2 hits and 4 walks and struck out 4 in 2 2/3 innings. He threw 32 of 61 pitches for strikes.

The Redhawks tagged Will McEntire for four runs in the fifth inning to tie the game. Cameron’s game-tying home run followed two walks and a single.

Cameron’s home run was the only hard hit against McEntire, who pitched 1 2/3 innings.

Christian Foutch replaced McEntire and created trouble for himself in the fifth, but stranded runners at the corners on a strong defensive play by second baseman Peyton Stovall to end the half inning.

Gabe Gaeckle pitched three innings in relief as the Razorbacks took command. Gaeckle allowed 1 run, 3 hits and 3 walks and struck out 6. He threw 35 of 62 pitches for strikes.

Jake Faherty pitched the ninth inning for Arkansas.

SEMO threatened to tie the game against Gaeckle in the seventh when Chance Resetich and Bryce Cannon doubled in consecutive at-bats, but Palmer fouled out to McLaughlin at first to strand the tying run in scoring position.

Ty Wilmsmeyer reached on a throwing error by the third baseman Resetich in the bottom of the seventh. He scored on White’s sacrifice fly before McLaughlin homered to break the game open again.

All three SEMO errors came on batted balls by the nine-hole hitter Wilmsmeyer, who reached base in every plate appearance and finished 2 for 5 with 3 runs and 1 RBI.

White’s second home run was another three-run shot in the eighth inning. White was 2 for 4 with 3 runs and 5 RBI.

Arkansas wins regional opener over SEMO | Arkansas Democrat Gazette (2024)
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