9th inning rally lifts Hogs to 'crazy' win in 2021 opener
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Arkansas scored five runs in the ninth to win a wild back-and-forth season opener that bled into Sunday morning.
Braydon Webb’s two-out, two-run single provided the exclamation point and some cushion in the No. 12 Razorbacks’ 13-9 win over No. 3 Texas Tech at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas.
It’s the 27th consecutive year Arkansas has won its first game of the season, a streak that started in 1995, but it didn’t come without drama and numerous odd sequences of events.
“That game was crazy,” head coach Dave Van Horn said. “That was one of the craziest games I've been in in a while.”
The two national powers battled to a scoreless tie through the first four innings and then things got weird and just got weirder as the clock approached midnight.
Arkansas struck first on a bases-loaded walk by Cullen Smith in the top of the fifth, but that was far from the most unusual way it scratched across runs Saturday night. Four wild pitches and a balk brought home five runs and Casey Opitz added a sixth by scoring from second when a throw from the catcher on one of the wild pitches got away from the pitcher.
In fact, those plays provided the Razorbacks with the winning runs. After Jalen Battles tied the game with an RBI single in the ninth, Cayden Wallace and Battles each scored on a wild pitch.
“Both teams really didn't play very well, didn't pitch very well,” Van Horn said. “They got a couple big hits, they took advantage of a couple mistakes. We took advantage of a couple mistakes on them. I'm just proud of the way our team just kept fighting and fighting.”
Even though it had already seen a pair of leads slip away during the game, the four-run margin was plenty and Arkansas finished off the 4-hour, 18-minute marathon when Elijah Trest struck out Kurt Wilson at 12:39 a.m. CT.
It wasn’t a great night for the bullpen, as all six Razorbacks who got on the mound gave up at least one earned run, but Van Horn was pleased about escaping the game with the win.
“What I did I see was a scrappy team, that they play now,” Van Horn said. “They’re going to play for 27 outs and find a way to beat you.”
Here’s a recap of everything you need to know from the Razorbacks’ season-opening win over the Red Raiders…
It would be hard to believe if you were told after the first batter he faced that Trest would still be on the mound in the ninth inning and in a position to close things out.
Clinging to a two-run lead in the seventh inning, Van Horn turned to his closer after Ryan Costeiu walked the first two batters of the inning to create a high-leverage situation.
The third-year sophomore got ahead of Braxton Fulford 0-2 and then just missed on a couple of pitches that looked like strike three. With a full count, Trest left one of the plate and the catcher crushed it for a three-run home run that gave Texas Tech the lead.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the-right-hander plunked the next batter and moved the pinch runner, Max Marusak, to second with a balk. Things appeared to be spiraling, but he managed to pick off Marusak trying to steal third and got out of the inning with a pair of strikeouts.
“You could tell he was a little frustrated, but he fought his way through that inning,” Van Horn said. “Really good job of an inside move picking off, and keeping the score the way it was, a one-run game.”
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