Souza blasts grand slam in UA’s rout of A-State

Arkansas designated hitter Nolan Souza (3) hits a grand slam, Tuesday, April 2, 2024, during the third inning of the Razorbacks’ 13-0 run-rule victory over the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today's photo gallery..(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)
Arkansas designated hitter Nolan Souza (3) hits a grand slam, Tuesday, April 2, 2024, during the third inning of the Razorbacks’ 13-0 run-rule victory over the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today's photo gallery..(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)


FAYETTEVILLE -- Nolan Souza launched a grand slam during a nine-run third inning and the No. 1 Arkansas Razorbacks played two-out titans to thump Arkansas State 13-0 in seven innings on a cold, windy Tuesday night.

The University of Arkansas (24-3) stretched its winning streak at Baum-Walker Stadium to 18 games and improved to 20-1 at home. The Razorbacks are off to their best start since the 1982 team, featuring current Coach Dave Van Horn as the starting second baseman, opened 27-2-2.

An announced crowd of 8,988 saw seven Arkansas pitchers, led by left-handed starter Colin Fisher (5-1), combine on a one-hitter against the Red Wolves (16-15). That marked the Hogs' second one-hit pitching gem of the year, following a 6-0 win over Missouri on March 16.

"A really good job by our team again," Van Horn said. "They just come out and play. They show up and they play hard. It doesn't matter if it's conference, nonconference."

The Razorbacks, who posted their seventh run-rule win, scored all of their 13 runs through the first three innings with two outs, including Ben McLaughlin's two-run home run in the second inning for a 4-0 lead.

"There in the third it seemed like we got three or four hits with two outs," Van Horn said. "I think also in the second inning McLaughlin hit the two-run homer with two outs.

"Two-out hits, especially two-out RBIs, in a way it really bothers the other team. Bothers the other team's pitcher."

McLaughlin was 3 for 3 with 3 RBI through three innings as the Razorbacks jumped on right-handers Kole Turner (1-2) and Coby Greiner.

"I think our approach tonight from first pitch on was very good as a team," McLaughlin said. "They threw a lot of different pitchers at us. We just trusted our coaches who were giving us a great scouting report."

Arkansas improved to 3-0 against in-state teams, 5-0 in mid-week games and 4-0 against Arkansas State since starting up the series in 2021.

The nine-run inning was a season high for Arkansas, eclipsing its eight-run sixth inning in an 18-5 run-rule win over McNeese State on March 10.

Souza's grand slam was the fifth of the season for Arkansas and its first since fellow Hawaiian Wehiwa Aloy hit his second against Arkansas-Little Rock last Tuesday.

"I haven't been hitting very good the last couple games so when I hit it I didn't feel it off the bat," Souza said. "I just saw it go so it was just a really good feeling."

Souza's home run traveled an estimated 458 feet, making it the second-longest of the season for the Hogs behind Aloy's 468-foot shot against McNeese State on March 9. Ryder Helfrick's game-winning home run against Auburn on March 22 was officially listed at 405 feet but UA personnel think it traveled much closer to 500 feet as it went well beyond the huge green left-field wall.

Souza's shot came five batters after Arkansas State third baseman Daedrick Cail threw wildly to first on Will Edmunson's roller, which was ruled an infield single. The stray throw allowed Ross Lovich, whose double scored Souza after his one-out double, and Helfrick to score and give Arkansas a 7-0 lead.

Then the floodgates opened as Peyton Stovall was hit by a pitch, McLaughlin and Aloy singled and Kendall Diggs drew a walk to set up Souza's grand slam.

"I think when you look at at the third inning we had a misplay in the field and the grand slam and that's the ball game," Arkansas State Coach Tommy Raffo said.

"We had two plays to the left side that we didn't make and you can't give the No. 1 team in the country a bunch of free bases. That came back to haunt us."

The Hogs notched their sixth shutout and their third started by Fisher.

The Red Wolves managed only five runners, four via walks, and their lone hit came on a single by Blake Burris with two outs in the third inning off Ben Bybee.

Cason Campbell, who drew a one-out walk off Bybee in the third, was the only Arkansas State base runner to reach second base.

The Razorbacks struck out 13 hitters, including multiple batters each by Bybee, Jake Faherty, Gage Wood, Cooper Dossett and Dylan Carter.

Arkansas State's Turner got himself into and nearly out of a first inning mess when he walked Stovall and Aloy around a single by McLaughlin to load the bases with no outs.

Turner rallied to strike out Diggs and Souza and had a chance to escape with no damage when Peyton Holt hit a slow chopper to the left side. The Red Wolves' shortstop Campbell charged in and fielded it but his throw sailed well over Brandon Hager's head at first base for a single and error to score two.


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