FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas (42-16) used a pair of five-run innings to race past Santa Clara (35-19), 13-6, on Friday afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium in the opening round of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional.
With the win, the Hogs advanced to the winner’s bracket and will play at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 3, against TCU. Arkansas has won eight consecutive regional openers since 2014.
Santa Clara jumped out to an early two-run advantage thanks to a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. The Broncos strung three consecutive base hits together, taking their only lead of the day on a one-out, two-run single to left center.
Cole Kitchen, Santa Clara’s starting pitcher, cruised through his first three innings of work on the mound before running into trouble in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Razorback offense broke through for five runs on a sacrifice fly, a pair of walks and four hits, highlighted by Kendall Diggs’ two-out three-run single.
Diggs’ bases-clearing knock proved to be the jolt that Arkansas needed. Will McEntire, who entered in relief of starter Hunter Hollan (2.1 IP, 2 R, 2 SO) in the top of the third, took full advantage of the run support by spinning five strong innings to settle the game down, striking out two while allowing just three runs on his way to his eighth win of the year.
The Hogs’ second five-run inning of the ballgame came in the bottom half of the sixth. Arkansas scored a pair on Tavian Josenberger’s two-run opposite-field homer before adding three more on back-to-back-to-back bases-loaded walks.
Josenberger, who went 2-for-6 with two runs scored and two RBI, was one of two Razorbacks to finish with multiple hits in the win. Jared Wegner also racked up a pair of base knocks, going 2-for-4 with a run scored, an RBI and a walk.
With Arkansas ahead by seven, Caleb Cali’s three-run blast in the seventh put the game away for good. His home run into the Hog Pen, which extended the Razorbacks’ advantage to 13-3, was his ninth of the season.
Santa Clara would cut its deficit back down to seven with two runs in the eighth and one more in the ninth, but Arkansas reliever Cody Adcock worked around the threat to close out the game and secure the Hogs’ 13-6 regional-opening win.
Arkansas left-hander Hagen Smith will get the start in tomorrow night’s contest. The true sophomore, recently named a First Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, is 8-1 with a 2.69 ERA and 102 strikeouts over 67 innings this season.
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Note to Our Readers: The following story was sourced directly and in its entirety from the University of Arkansas Office of Communications, Oliver Grigg.