FAYETTEVILLE -- Kent State made a mid-game move to take the rubber match of their weekend series against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Sunday.
The No. 7 Razorbacks turned to their young hitters to rally from a three-run deficit, sparked by RBI doubles from Casey Martin and Heston Kjerstad in the fifth and sixth innings. Then Martin, Jordan McFarland and Carson Shaddy hit solo home runs in the seventh inning to lead the Hogs to an 11-4 victory before a crowd of 3,049 at Baum Stadium.
McFarland tacked on a grand slam in the eighth inning to turn the series finale into a rout and give the three-game set to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (11-4).
Kent State (7-5) walloped the error-prone Hogs 10-4 in the nightcap of Friday's doubleheader.
"You've got to give credit to the offense," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said after the Golden Flashes scored three runs in the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead. "We scored the next 10 runs. I thought the guys responded pretty good. We didn't feel good about the way the second game went the other night. ... We felt like we were flat."
The rally made a winner of left-hander Evan Lee (1-1), who allowed no runs on two hits and no walks in the final 4 1/3 innings, the longest stint of his career.
"I had a three-pitch mix going," Lee said. "Really had a feel for my fastball command today and then supplemented it with a curveball and a change-up. Just kind of kept them off-balance and let my defense work."
Kent State Coach Jeff Duncan said he was proud of his team for giving the Razorbacks good competition.
"We knew going in that we had our hands full and that they're a good ball club," Duncan said. "A lot of people have them winning the national title and that is a really talented group over there.
"I'm proud of the way we handled the environment, a regional-type setting, and we played really good baseball. We were going into the bottom of the sixth to take a series up 4-1, but came up short."
Martin and McFarland both made up for unproductive at-bats earlier in the game. Martin struck out on three pitches in each of his first two at-bats against Joey Murray.
But he rapped a two-out RBI double to left -- the Hogs' first hit with two outs and runners in scoring position in the series -- to plate Kerstad, who had singled, to draw Arkansas within 4-2 in the fifth inning.
WHEN 7 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville
RECORDS Texas 9-7; Arkansas 11-4
SERIES RECORD Texas leads 54-28 overall
STARTING PITCHERS Texas RHP Beau Ridgeway (1-0, 8.31); Arkansas LHP Kacey Murphy (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
RADIO Razorback Sports Network. Not all games will be carried by all affiliates. Check local listings.
TV SEC Network
Kent State center fielder Mason Mamarella went 7 for 10 in the series with 3 runs and 4 RBI. … Carson Shaddy’s seventh inning home run was his fourth, tying junior Eric Cole and freshman Casey Martin for Arkansas’ team lead. … The Razorbacks scored ascending runs in the fifth through eighth innings: 1, 2, 3 and then 4. … Jordan McFarland’s solo home run in the seventh and grand slam in the eighth were his first two home runs of the year.
TUESDAY Texas, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)
WEDNESDAY Texas, 4 p.m.
FRIDAY Kentucky, 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY Kentucky, 2 p.m.
SUNDAY Kentucky, 1 p.m.
"I was just trying to put the bat on the ball and keep it fair because I was struggling those first two at-bats," Martin said. "I was proud of the way I reacted to it."
McFarland struck out looking on four pitches in a pinch-hitting role with two runners in scoring position for the final out of the fifth inning.
"I don't think I was aggressive enough," McFarland said. "Coach Van Horn made that pretty obvious that I wasn't being aggressive. I made some adjustments and sure took that to heart."
Grant Koch walked to lead off the Arkansas sixth, then Shaddy reached on a fielding error by shortstop Josh Hollander. Reliever Jared Skolnicki rallied to strike out Jax Biggers and induce a pop out from Eric Cole before Kerstad slapped a two-run double to the left-center gap to tie the game at 4-4.
Martin worked a 3-2 count from Zach Schultz before lifting a deep fly to the left-field corner that landed in the Arkansas bullpen. McFarland hit his shot to left next, the first back-to-back home runs for the Razorbacks since Cole and Chad Spanberger did it against Florida in the SEC Tournament last year.
"Sure glad to hit on a day like today," McFarland said of the wind blowing out at Baum Stadium.
"I got with him a little bit after that first at bat, just kind of told him what I thought about 'This is what your role is, this is why you're in there and it's time to do it,'" Van Horn said. "Boy did he ever respond. Even his second home run, which really all we wanted there was a sac fly and he hit a long sac fly that got out of the park."
One out later, Shaddy gave the Hogs a 7-4 lead with his fourth home run.
Kent State put the pressure on with a three-run fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead.
The Razorbacks host Texas for single games Tuesday and Wednesday before opening SEC play with a visit from Kentucky on Friday.
Sports on 03/12/2018
Print Headline: Razorbacks get offense going to dispose of Golden Flashes