FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – One of the old chestnuts of baseball is you can tell how the season is going to go based off the first game of the year. If that’s the case, Arkansas is in for a fun season.
Preseason All-American Blaine Knight carried a no-hitter through five innings, every Razorbacks starter in the lineup reached base and the Diamond Hogs beat Bucknell, 14-2, on a cold evening at Baum Stadium. The two teams are scheduled for two more games this weekend. The game Saturday is at 11:30 a.m. Finale is Sunday at noon.
Friday was the perfect warm-up for what is expected to be a grand season. Arkansas is ranked in the top six in the nation in every legitimate poll in the United States. Bucknell should not have been much trouble, even with Patriot League preseason Pitcher of the Year Connor Van Hoose going, and the Bison were not. At all, really.
It took until the seventh for Bucknell to break up the no-hitter. Keifer Rawlings knocked a single through the right side off freshman Kole Ramage after he and Knight took the no-no 6 1/3 innings. By that point, it was 11-0, Arkansas. Most of the few fans who did show with the temperature around 40 degrees at the 3 p.m. first pitch began to head out long before that.
They watched Arkansas flat dominate. Jax Biggers’ bunt single was the first hit of the year for the Diamond Hogs. He was the first hitter. Heston Kjerstad’s RBI single plated Biggers for the first RBI and run of the year. Also in the first inning. The game was Kjerstad’s first of his college career. First at-bat, too. Van Hoose only made 1 1/3 innings. He walked four, gave up six hits and was tagged for seven earned runs.
Arkansas most definitely is not in the Patriot League. Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn went to his bench starting in about the sixth. Before the game’s end no position player was left who started the game.
Grading the Hogs
Yes, Bucknell is in the Patrio League. However, Bucknell is also picked to win the conference. The Bison aren’t terrible and, usually, early in the season, hitters are more prepared than pitchers. Didn’t matter Friday.
Easy all the way around. Arkansas’ lineup is loaded. LIke Knight as a pitcher being an obvious All-American, Arkansas’ hitters have just as much to do with the Razorbacks being in the top six as anything.
The Big Stick + The Arm
There’s a reason he’s an All-American. No one could have predicted five innings of no-hit ball. Four strikeouts and 67 total pitches against 17 batters isn’t shabby. Good first warm-up start.
The freshman leftfielder spent fall ball as the team’s best hitter. Not the best freshman hitter. The best hitter, period. He didn’t slow down against Bucknell. Kjerstad had hits in his first three at-bats and finished with a double, an RBI and two runs.
What’s next for Arkansas?
Game 2 of the series is Saturday at 11:30 a.m. CT.
The post Arkansas baseball rolls Bucknell to open season as no-hitter carried into 7th appeared first on SEC Country.
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