Razorbacks sweeps SEC doubleheader over Kentucky to win league series 3-0
The No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks unleashed an offensive onslaught on No. 4 Kentucky Saturday, winning both ends of a doubleheader, 14-2 and 16-9, to finish the three-game sweep at Baum Stadium.
In just Saturday’s games combined, the Razorbacks scored 30 runs on 38 hits and hit 10 home runs. Combined over the entire series, Arkansas (16-4, 3-0 SEC) scored 39 runs on Kentucky (14-6, 0-3 SEC), the most in a Southeastern Conference series under Dave Van Horn, and the most in a three-game conference series since 1997.
The Razorbacks open the conference season for the second-straight year with a series sweep (Mississippi State, 2017) and it’s the fourth-straight series win over the Wildcats dating back to 2013.
Seven different Razorbacks hit at least one home run on the day with Jax Biggers, Carson Shaddy, and Luke Bonfield all coming away with two each over both games. As a team, Arkansas hit five home runs in both contests, giving it three games this season with five or more long balls.
Game 1 | Arkansas 14, Kentucky 2
It wasn’t all offense, though, for the Razorbacks as redshirt sophomore Isaiah Campbell pitched his team to the series win in the first game on Saturday. Campbell threw a career-long eight innings with just one run given up on three hits and struck out a career-high eight batters.
Campbell held Kentucky hitless until a Kyle Cottom home run in the fifth broke that up. Then, he still only allowed three baserunners over his final three innings, making it the most effective outing by an Arkansas pitcher this year.
The Razorback offense gave Campbell plenty of run support, jumping out to a 7-0 lead before the fourth inning. Over the series with the Wildcats, Arkansas scored 18 runs in the first three innings.
Combined over all games this year, 75 of Arkansas’ 186 runs have come in the first three innings, making up 41 percent of the offensive production.
Arkansas went on to put up a five-run fifth, three off the first homer of the season from Biggers and then single runs in the sixth and eighth. Catcher Zack Plunkett hit his first Razorback home run when he pinch hit for Grant Koch and smashed one of the longest home runs of the day into the Hog Pen in right field.
Biggers and Shaddy finished the game as the Hogs’ leading hitters, each tallying three base hits. Biggers drove in four in the game, setting a career-high. Freshman Heston Kjerstad was one of five Razorbacks with two hits in the game as he totaled three RBIs, his fourth multi-RBI game of the season.
He also hit his third home run of the year, going the opposite way as part of Arkansas’ four-run third.
Game 2 | Arkansas 16, Kentucky 9
The Hogs picked up their offense where they left off in the second half of the doubleheader, scoring seven runs on seven hits in the first inning and using a great two-out approach to chase Kentucky starter Daniel Harper after just 0.2 innings.
Arkansas had already score two runs on an Bonfield double, but then Harper gave up a two-out walk to Jordan McFarland and an RBI single to Kjerstad to make it 3-0 forcing Kentucky to go to its bullpen.
Things didn’t go much better for Zach Haake as he gave up a two-RBI single to Grant Koch and then the two-run homer to Shaddy, his first of two in the game.
It’s been a banner week for Shaddy as he’s hit .529 (9-for-17) over the last five games, which includes the Texas series, with four RBIs, two home runs, and eight runs scored. With his two home run game on Saturday, he now has two multi-home run games in his career (Miss. Valley State, Feb. 24, 2016).
Shaddy, along with Biggers, Cole, and Bonfield, each had three or more hits in game two. Biggers and Cole came away with near-perfect performances as Biggers was 4-for-5 with two RBIs and a home run, while Cole went 4-for-6 with an RBI double.
Junior Kacey Murphy picked up the win, his third of the year, after throwing 5.1 innigs out of the bullpen withn just two earned runs allowed on seven hits and five strikeouts. In three of his four outings, he has gone five or more innings and has yet to give up more than two earned runs in an appearance.
Arkansas hits the road for a nine-game stretch starting with two midweek games at Charlotte (March 20-21).
Game one of the series with the 49ers will be played at BB&T Park, the home of the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, with first pitch set for 6:05 p.m. It will be televised on BeIN TV.
The second game of the series will be played on the campus of UNC-Charlotte at Phillips Field in Hayes Stadium. First pitch will be at 3 p.m. on Wednesday and televised by Cox Sports Television.