No. 4 Arkansas hit five home runs against No. 19 Texas A&M Thursday at Olsen Field to capture game one of the final regular season series 7-3.
With A&M starting left-handed pitcher Asa Lacy out for the series due to a four-game suspension during the previous Alabama series, left-handed relief pitcher Chris Weber took over starting responsibilities for Thursday’s game.
The freshman had a strong start to the game with four strikeouts in the first three innings until Arkansas leadoff hitter Trevor Ezell cracked open the game with a three-run homer over the left field fence.
A&M responded with a single bunt RBI from designated hitter Cam Blake, and a throwing error from catcher Casey Opitz that allowed second baseman Bryce Blaum to score.
With the lead cut to 3-2 in Arkansas’ favor, shortstop Casey Martin and designated hitter Matt Goodheart hit back-to-back single home runs in the top of the fifth inning.
“Everything was going right, but three mistakes and that’s what cost us,” Weber said. “Two [were] strikes and [I] just left too much over the plate.”
Despite giving up three home runs, Weber struck out 10 batters in five innings pitched. A&M head coach Rob Childress praised him for stepping up into the starting role as a freshman.
“Chris [Weber] couldn’t have been much better than he was,” Childress said. “Three mistakes with two strikes, Arkansas is a very offensive club, and there was a double, a single and then a three-run homer. Just like that, we’re chasing runs. But I couldn’t be more proud of him and the job that he did tonight when we needed him most.
Childress made the call to replace Weber with left-handed pitcher Chandler Jozwiak after five innings, but Arkansas second baseman Jack Kenley hit a home run with two runs remaining to give the Razorbacks the largest lead of the game.
Jozwiak held his own through two and a third innings pitched, allowing a trio of hits and a single run, striking out three batters in the process.
Aggies’ right-handed pitcher Jake Nelson took the mound after Jozwiak and had a stellar performance of his own. The junior threw five strikeouts through 1.2 innings, breaking his season-high of three against Abilene Christian on March 6.
“I thought [Nelson] was fabulous,” Childress said. “He looked really good the past couple of weeks, and it looks to me like the farther away he gets from surgery, the better he’s getting. I thought he was in control of the game.”
In the bottom of the eighth, A&M leadoff hitter Braden Shewmake hit a double, followed by a single RBI by centerfielder Zach DeLoach. Blake attempted to keep the run going with a single through the middle, but it would not be enough.
Nelson gave up the final score of the game in the bottom of the ninth, when Martin homered to left center for his second hit over the fence of the night.
Five of the 10 hits Arkansas earned were home runs, and hit at least one off of every A&M pitcher that was faced.
“Here at A&M we don’t have any moral victories,” Blake said. “If anything we’re just ready to go tomorrow; bring that same mindset and stay ready to go that whole time.”
The Aggies face the Razorbacks in the second game of the series Friday at Blue Bell Park. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and will be televised on SEC Network +.