RUSTON, La. — No. 1 Arkansas’ flair for the dramatic made another appearance on Friday night as the Razorbacks pulled off a thrilling come-from-behind 9-7 win against Louisiana Tech at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park.
Never a doubt.
Shortstop Jalen Battles launched the game-winning two-run homer in the top of the 10th, rocketing the baseball deep over the left-field wall and into the late night. His blast helped the Hogs complete their seventh comeback victory of the 2021 season, overcoming a three-run deficit in the eighth to stay undefeated.
The Razorbacks are 11-0 for the first time in the Dave Van Horn era and for only the second time in program history. Arkansas also jumped out to an 11-0 start during the 1996 campaign, winning a program-record 18 games in a row to begin that year.
The Hogs have won 15 consecutive dating back to the final four contests of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Friday night belonged to the bats as Arkansas and LA Tech combined for 16 runs on 22 hits, including eight extra-base knocks, in the 10-inning affair. The Hogs jacked three home runs in the ballgame, extending a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth thanks in part to designated hitter Matt Goodheart’s two-run dinger.
The Bulldogs, however, had answers of their own. LA Tech chased Razorback starter Peyton Pallette from the ballgame with four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, opening a 4-3 lead.
Pallette finished his outing with five strikeouts in four innings of work, allowing two runs (both earned) on two hits, two walks and two hit batsmen.
Arkansas’ offense stayed active in response to the deficit. Right fielder Cayden Wallace blasted his third homer of the year in the top of sixth to tie the game at four.
It would not last long. LA Tech scored once in the bottom half of the inning and twice more in the bottom of the seventh, taking a three-run lead into the eighth.
The heart-attack Hogs did not go quietly into the night, though. Back-to-back walks to lead off the top of the eighth set the table for Arkansas’ eventual comeback win.
With the bases loaded and two outs, left fielder Zack Gregory, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh, was hit by a pitch to bring home a run and cut the deficit to two. Second baseman Robert Moore stepped up to the plate next and delivered in a big spot yet again.
The preseason All-American drove home two runs with his single to right and tied the game at seven apiece.
Arkansas turned the game over to its big guns in the bullpen, starting with Kevin Kopps, in the bottom of the eighth. The righty pitched two scoreless innings, striking out two while allowing two hits and a walk.
His strong effort out of the bullpen cleared the way for Battles’ heroics in the 10th. After Charlie Welch’s pinch-hit double to lead things off, the junior-college product hammered a 3-1 pitch off the apartment building in the left field to put Arkansas up, 9-7.
Freshman Jaxon Wiggins was tasked with getting the save, and he did just that. The phenom struck out two in a scoreless bottom of the 10th to seal the come-from-behind victory.
The three-game series rolls on Saturday afternoon. First pitch at the ballpark is set for 2 p.m.