Arkansas 4, San Diego State 3
Joe Serrano (10) has been working to hit with more power, and it paid off Friday.
IN A NUTSHELL
Bottom of the ninth, two outs, nobody on, a team that has struggled to produce two-out runs, and a batter who had never homered as a Hog.
No big deal.
Sophomore Joe Serrano delivered a walk-off, solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to save the day for Arkansas at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks’ pitching had been erratic – with the exception of Jalen Beeks’ effort in relief – and the Hogs were fortunate to have the game so close when Serrano stepped to the plate. But Serrano – a self-admitted singles and doubles hitter – has been working on batting with more power, and it apparently paid off when he sent a fastball into the wind and over the left-field wall.
Arkansas (9-5) found itself down 2-0 in the second thanks to a two-run, first-pitch home run to right by San Diego State’s seven-hole hitter, Matt Munoz. The Razorbacks took advantage of a couple of wild pitches, a hit and a walk to tie the game in the third.
The Aztecs (7-7) took a one-run lead in the fifth on an RBI double from cleanup hitter Brad Haynal. But center fielder Jacob Morris saved a run when he threw a one-hopper to catcher Jake Wise to put out Haynal. The Hogs later tied it up in the seventh on Tyler Spoon’s RBI single up the middle.
Hogs sophomore lefty Jalen Beeks came on to pitch in the seventh with the bases loaded, one out, and Arkansas trailing 3-2. He struck out the next two batters to get out of the jam. Beeks (2-0) allowed one hit and struck out three in 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
Arkansas starter Ryne Stanek didn’t have his best stuff, giving up five hits and three runs – all earned – in 4 1/3 innings, walking five and striking out five. Trent Daniel pitched two innings of one-hit relief, striking out four, and Colby Suggs walked the only batter he faced before Beeks came in.
San Diego State starter Philip Walby gave up six hits and three earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking four. Justin Hepner (0-1) got the loss, going 2 1/3 innings and giving up two hits and the home run by Serrano.
STATS THAT MATTER
3,375 Friday’s actual attendance
116 Pitches thrown by Walby in 6 1/3 innings.
91 Pitches thrown by Stanek in 4 1/3 innings.
14 Consecutive games in which Spoon has had a hit.
11 Runners left on base by San Diego State
8 Runners left on base by Arkansas.
It’s still Spoon, the redshirt freshman from Van Buren who extended his hitting streak to 14 games. He went 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored Friday, including that run-scoring single that tied the game. He leads the Hogs in hits (21), RBI (16) and home runs (2).
Morris. He’s hitting .129 in 31 at-bats and went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts Friday. His 12 strikeouts for the season are the most on the team.
**Because of the threat of inclement weather, the teams will play a doubleheader Saturday instead of one game Saturday and one Sunday. First pitch Saturday is 11:35 a.m. Central. Game 2 begins 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 1.
**Freshman right-hander Trey Killian (1-1, 1.29 ERA) will start the first game for Arkansas, and San Diego State will counter with senior right-hander Ryan Doran (2-1, 3.32). Senior left-hander Randall Fant (0-0, 2.25) will start Game 2 for the Hogs. The Aztecs have not named a Game 2 starter.
**Senior outfielder Matt Vinson (sprained wrist) is doubtful for Saturday, according to Coach Dave Van Horn.
**Serrano has been working with assistant Todd Butler and volunteer assistant Brian Walker in an attempt to hit with power. Serrano said he’s a front-foot hitter who has struggled with off-speed pitches by reaching for them. He’s worked on keeping his head over his back hip and keeping his back leg heavy.
**Stanek’s ERA of 3.71 is worst among the starting rotation, and he’s allowed more hits (16) and walks (10) than anyone on the team in four starts. He’s also given up both home runs from opponents this season.
Serrano on his home run: “When you hit a ball like that in this type of situation, I feel like you kind of know if it’s either going in or out. Coach (Jacob) Julius was screaming at me, ‘Run, run!’ And I was like, ‘No, no. The ball’s going out.’ As soon as I hit it, it was amazing. Rounding third base, Walker’s laughing at me because I don’t hit home runs. And it was weird. I don’t even hit home runs in BP. So it’s just a great feeling.”
Van Horn on Stanek: “First inning was great. He was lights out. We’re going now. And then he was kind of up and down.”
Van Horn on SDSU’s Walby: “Their starter, he was really good and spotted his fastball away all day and then he’d bust you in and throw a pretty good slider and mixed in some change-ups with lefties. Just a good pitcher, throwing in the low-90s, and it was a great challenge for us.”
Van Horn on Beeks: “I think what he has, he’s just got a good mentality about him. I told them that we loaded the bases up for him so we could bring him in. just trying to loosen him up a little bit, but boy, he did the job.”
Spoon on Serrano’s home run: “When Joe hit that home run, he hit it and I was like, ‘That’s gone.’ It was weird because it was Joe. Everybody was so excited. We’re just going to use this to build on it and just keep getting closer and keep getting better and better.”
Spoon on his hitting streak: ”I feel comfortable at the plate. I don’t know. I’m just seeing it well, really. I’m seeing all the pitches well. Fastball, breaking ball. I’m just able to stay on it. I feel like my two-strike approach has gotten a lot better. Just staying with it. Coach butler’s been working, just helping me on that a lot. I feel really comfortable at the plate.”