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Razorbacks ride Hagen Smith to historic victory

The beauty and parity of college baseball allows for the opportunity to witness greatness on any given day.  Hagen Smith provided the city of Arlington and the college baseball world with shades of greatness.  17 of them in fact.  Before the Arkansas ace even took the mound, anticipation of a bounce back outing filled the stadium that has hosted a lot of greatness as of late.  Smith didn’t offer much greatness in his Opening Day start against James Madison, leaving in the 2nd inning after giving up three runs.  Despite the struggles, his Razorback teammates never wavered.  “We had faith in Hagen, he is our guy, our captain” said Arkansas second baseman Peyton Holt.

Smith had a feeling he had his stuff going into his start against an Oregon State squad that had scratched 52 runs across the plate headed into Friday’s tilt.  “I felt good in my bullpen pregame but I try not to look into that too much, I knew early my velo was there and my slider was breaking”.  Against a potent Beaver offense, Smith had it in spades.  The left-hander relied on that slider, using it to strike out 15 Beavers.  He had 18 strikeouts on the night, including recording the first 15 outs of the game via punch out.  

The highly touted Junior southpaw had no issues with the Oregon State lineup, mixing pitches, hitting spots and making players like Golden Spikes favorite Travis Bazzana chase out of the zone.  Despite his dominance, Arkansas skipped Dave Van Horn elected to turn to the bullpen in the 6th inning after Smith had thrown just 78 pitches.  “We had a number in mind tonight, thought about yanking him in the 5th but his pitch count was low”, Van Horn said of the gameplan regarding the Razorback starter.  Sometimes excellence earns some leeway. 

After the ball was turned over to the Arkansas bullpen, Oregon State, as advertised, strung base hits and runs together.  Brady Kasper led off the 7th inning with a single, two batters later pinch hitter Dallas Macias drove him in. Macias was aggressive on the base paths and was able to score on a shallow fly ball. In the 8th, Mason Guerra unloaded on a fast ball and deposited it deep into the left field second deck to knot the score up at four runs apiece.  

Arkansas had no intention of wasting the legendary start turned in by their Friday Night arm.  The Razorbacks rallied in the bottom half thanks to a Peyton Holt RBI triple.  That was all Jake Faherty needed to slam the door on the Oregon State bats in the 9th to lock in a 5-4 victory for the Razorbacks.  Arkansas has grown accustom to playing and winning in front of a large crowd at Globe Life Field, though each fan in attendance had also witnessed one of the most dominant efforts in college baseball history.  While neither starter factored in to the decision, Hagen Smith’s start will make waves not only for the remainder of the Kubota College Baseball Series, but for years to come.  

Oregon State faces a quicker turnaround tomorrow as they’ll face Michigan at 3:00 in Arlington.

For Arkansas, the Razorbacks will take on another familiar tournament foe, the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Two years removed the historic Stillwater Regional, fans are sure to feel the buzz and animosity in the air in Arlington on Saturday. 

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