Freshman Kjerstad homers as Arkansas beats Arizona, 1-0

Four days after the Arkansas baseball team scored 32 runs, one off its all-time high, the Diamond Hogs had just one against Arizona.

Get you a team that can do both.

The lone run, a Heston Kjerstad home run in the fifth inning, was the only run of the game Wednesday night. It was the only one Arkansas needed, too, in its 1-0 win over the Wildcats out in San Diego. The last two years the two teams have combined to score just four runs (a 3-0 Arizona win in 2017) between them.

Arkansas’ Kacey Murphy, who had a one-hitter last year through seven innings against Memphis, had the same against Arizona, just through six. Alfonso Rivas had a single in the fourth and that was it. Murphy ultimately went those six innings, walking one and striking out six. Odds are strong he becomes Arkansas’ Sunday starter when SEC play rolls around.

Arizona is hardly Bucknell, the team the Razorbacks scored 32 on Saturday. The Wildcats are picked to finish fourth in the Pac-12 and are around 30th in the country in a composite of the six national polls.

Cody Scroggins replaced Murphy in the seventh and picked up where his predecessor left off at first. He struck out the first two Wildcats hitters he faced before trouble started. A hit, a walk, a passed ball and another walk gave Arizona the bases loaded with two outs. Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn went to the bullpen, where Matt Cronin entered from. He induced a groundout and Arizona left its runners stranded.

Arkansas had an opportunity to add insurance in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs. Jared Gates, however, had his fly ball tracked down a couple feet from the wall to end the inning.

Grading the Hogs

Pitching: A-

Other than Scroggins’ three-batter hiccup, things went swimmingly for the Arkansas staff. They combined to give up just two hits, allow four walks and strike out 11 Wildcats batters.

Hitting: D+

Ten strikeouts. Seven hits and walks. Not an ideal recipe.

The Big Stick + The Arm

Arm:  Murphy

Coach Dave Van Horn had said earlier this year Murphy wasn’t, specifically, a strikeout guy. His stuff doens’t make him, certainly, but somehow he gets them. He is the returning leader on the team from last year in strikeouts per nine innings and he cut through Arizona smoothly to start this year, too.

Stick: Kjerstad

The freshman from Amarillo, Texas, has looked wholly impressive as Arkansas’ everyday leftfielder. Not out of place whatsoever. Besides the home run, he was hit by a pitch in the ninth.

What’s next for Arkansas?

Arkansas sticks around San Diego until Sunday night. The Razorbacks are taking part in the Tony Gwynn Classic this weekend. First game is Friday afternoon, 3 p.m. Arkansas time, against Cal Poly.

The post Freshman Kjerstad homers as Arkansas beats Arizona, 1-0 appeared first on SEC Country.

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