Regional ready: Arkansas in the first game….

Regional ready: Arkansas in the first game….

Arkansas Razorbacks Left-handed Pitcher Hagen Smith Bounces Back With  Strong Outing Against Southeastern Louisiana Lions

FAYETTEVILLE: With a scorching start and an outstanding home record, the Arkansas Razorbacks are well-positioned to contend for a postseason run as the No. 5 national seed in baseball.

The Hogs (43-14) are hoping that securing home-field advantage at Baum-Walker Stadium, where they are 33-3 this season, would enable them to overcome a late-season dip and mount another College World Series assault.

The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament winner Southeast Missouri State (34-25), the first opponent the Razorbacks face in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional on Friday at 2:00 p.m. Although rain is predicted for much of the day, the nightcap between second-seeded Louisiana Tech (45-17) and Kansas State (32-24) is set for 7 p.m.

In place of ace left-hander Hagen Smith (9-1, 1.48), Arkansas announced on Thursday night that senior left-hander Mason Molina (4-2, 4.04 ERA) will start in the opener. The Redhawks, on the other hand, will start lefty Haden Dow (4-1, 4.89), who is their usual weekend opener.

Molina has thrown brilliantly out of the bullpen in his last two appearances, going 5 shutout innings with 1 hit and no walks allowed. However, he struggled down the stretch in his last three starts, giving up 9 runs on 9 hits and 11 walks.

Junior right-hander Brady Tygart, who was left off the 27-man regional roster after he experienced a problem in his right shoulder following his previous appearance, was one starting pitcher option that the Razorbacks did not have. It was not a ligament damage, according to coach Dave Van Horn, and it is uncertain if he will be able to play in the postseason beyond the regional.

Hagen Smith Fans 14, Headlines Friday's Outings - Friday Starters

Van Horn didn’t want the Redhawks to have their batting practice, which was three hours and fifteen minutes after the Hogs’, knowing the opposing pitcher, which is why he and his protégé, Southeast Missouri State Coach Andy Sawyers, played coy when it came to naming their starter at earlier press conferences on Thursday.

Van Horn declared, “I’m going to wait until all of the teams have had practice.” “Lower line. Allow them to practice in front of an unknown opponent. There you are.

At his news conference prior to practice, Sawyers stated, “Yeah, we know who we’re going to throw, I’m just not going to say anything until we know who they’re throwing honestly.”

After finishing 0–2 in the SEC Tournament, the Razorbacks got two full days off and an eight-day break in between games, which was by far the longest stretch of the season.

Arkansas second baseman Peyton Stovall remarked, “I was actually telling some of the guys in the locker room it feels like it’s been three months since we’ve played just because you play so many games in a season.” “It was nice to be able to get those days off.”

The Redhawks have been in a must-win mindset for a few weeks while finishing 12-2 in the final stretch of the season because Southeast Missouri State needed to defeat Tennessee-Martin in its regular-season finale to secure a double-bye in the conference tournament and the team needed to win the OVC Tournament to secure an NCAA bid.

“We played great that last weekend and ended up winning eight of our last nine conference games and took down the tournament, so we’ve been playing in that mindset for a couple of weeks now,” Sawyers stated.

Despite their third trip to the NCAA Tournament in the previous four years, Sawyers’ Redhawks are still looking for their first regional victory.

“We’re overjoyed to be here,” he remarked. “We’ve now participated in three of the previous four of these events. I’m optimistic that eventually we’ll succeed and emerge victorious from one of these situations. However, that’s our main purpose here.

In the five times that Arkansas has hosted since 2018, it has advanced out of its home regional four times, with last year being the outlier. TCU, the SEC co-champions, finished the season with a hard-hitting 20-5 and 12-4 victory over the Razorbacks.

Arkansas Razorbacks baseball: Hagen Smith made for big moments

Smith had the worst start of his career in the first of those losses, surrendering eight earned runs with three outs.

Smith declared, “It’s a new year, new team.” “Definitely none of us are even thinking about that honestly, just looking forward to playing that first game versus SEMO and just going and attacking them.”

Last week in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, Arkansas dropped three straight games for the first time this season to South Carolina (6-5) and Kentucky (9-6). The Hogs did not pitch, field, or hit well in the clutch.

Sawyers stated that he doesn’t interpret the most recent Hogs move in any way.

“That is a pointless concern,” Sawyers remarked. “Nobody pays attention to what occurs in Hoover, especially not the Razorbacks, if you’re a national seed. It’s completely unplanned to have to play that conference tournament when you’re already a national seed and in the tournament.

“Observe how they presented that idea. Their pitch was not meant to win it. To prepare for this weekend, they were pitching.”

Many of the Razorbacks’ batters are fighting their way out of slumps: catcher Hudson White (.288, 6, 26), outfielder Peyton Holt (.309, 6, 23), and possibly third baseman Jared Sprauge-Lott (.295, 8, 25) are among them, aside from Stovall (.349, 9 home runs, 38 RBI).

Following their return from the SEC Tournament, Van Horn claimed to have observed a distinct edge in his team’s practices. He stated that the Hogs should benefit in the upcoming days from the highs and lows of the last two postseasons.

“I don’t know why those experiences wouldn’t help you,” he replied. Nobody seems to be prepared to return home, in my opinion. Mentally, I don’t think they’ve checked it in. I haven’t noticed that in the past couple days. On the pitch, we’ll see how things go; once again, if we play well, we have a chance. We won’t be able to leave if we don’t. It simply is what it is.”

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