Fayetteville, AR (UofA) – For the fourth time this year, the sixth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks completed a three-game sweep in conference play, defeating the 20th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies, 6-3, at Baum Stadium Sunday afternoon. Senior Luke Bonfield drove in four of the Hogs’ six runs, while redshirt sophomore Isaiah Campbell had his best outing in four weeks.
The last time Arkansas swept four or more conference series in the same season was 1999. That year, the Razorbacks won 42 games and the SEC regular-season title. This year’s squad not only swept four conference series, but did not lose a series inside Baum Stadium and set a record for most home wins in a regular season (30) with one game occurring at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The Razorbacks need just two more wins to tie the school record for most wins at Baum Stadium in a single season (31 in 2004).
Arkansas (36-15, 17-10 SEC) remains at the top of the SEC Western Division with the three-game sweep over the Aggies, one game ahead of Ole Miss and three games up on LSU. The sweep by Arkansas was also its first over Texas A&M (34-17, 12-15 SEC) since the Aggies joined the league prior to the 2013 season.
For the third game in a row, Arkansas scored in the first inning after an Eric Cole lead-off single eventually turned into a run with the help of two fielding errors by the Aggies. Texas A&M ended up with four errors in the game, tying for its most in a game this year. The hit upped Cole’s hitting streak to three games and he finished the series 4-for-13 (.308) with one extra-base hit and two RBIs.
The Hogs added three more in the third on a three-run home run by Bonfield, his seventh of the year. The senior was able to turn on a 3-1 fastball and deposit it well beyond the chairbacks in the left field Hog Pen. Earlier in the inning, Casey Martin was able to work a lead-off walk and that was followed by a hit by pitch to Heston Kjerstad.
As a team, Arkansas has hit at least one home run in eight of its last nine games and is 29-10 on the year when hitting a long ball.
Bonfield finished the game 2-for-4 at the plate with four RBIs, his second game with four or more RBIs this year and first since March 17 against Kentucky.
Isaiah Campbell (4-5) had his first strong outing in nearly four weeks, going five scoreless and scattering five hits while racking up seven strikeouts on 72 pitches. It’s the fifth time this year he’s struck out five or more and first since tallying a career-high eight against No. 4 Kentucky on March 17.
Campbell never let more than one batter reach base through his first four innings and also got some help from his defense that turned three double plays. It was the fifth time this year that Arkansas had turned three or more double plays in a single game.
Cody Scroggins, Evan Lee, and Jake Reindl all followed after Campbell’s exit and was able to maneuver through the Aggie lineup in the sixth and into the seventh inning. Then, sophomore Matt Cronin made his return to the mound in the seventh after missing the previous 11 games due to an illness..
Cronin looked good in his first game back, striking out two over two innings while throwing 27 pitches. He nearly locked up the save before running into trouble in the ninth with two consecutive walks. But, Barrett Loseke finished it off in his second appearance of the weekend, facing three batters and needing just five pitches to get the final two outs.
“It was a great weekend for our team, bouncing back after not playing really well in Baton Rouge. Going into the last weekend against LSU and A&M we were hoping to go 4-2, obviously you’d like to do a little better, but at a minimum 4-2. I’m proud of the team for hanging in there this week and getting through finals and coming out and winning three games against a really good team.” – Head Coach Dave Van Horn on the team’s weekend sweep over Texas A&M
“He played great defense, he laid down a couple of sacrifice bunts, hit a few balls hard. I thought he did a great job. I would give him a really high grade if I was grading him. (Jack) Kenley is a guy that would’ve started on a lot of teams this year.” – Head Coach Dave Van Horn on Jack Kenley’s performance
“Pretty amazing when you think about it. I don’t care how good you are, winning 29 out of 32 games at home is amazing. 14-1 in conference play is something else.” – Head Coach Dave Van Horn on the amount of wins Arkansas has accumulated this season at Baum Stadium
“It was awesome. It was awesome to have my family in the stands, it was awesome to play with my teammates, these guys are like my brothers. I’m hoping that we have a lot more time left together, that’s what I’m focusing on right now.” – Luke Bonfield on his final regular season home series at Baum Stadium
“When I’m on the mound, I kind of just tone everything out, and focus on myself. Here, you’re playing in front of the best fans in the country. It makes you more relaxed and more comfortable on the mound, to go out and perform really well. Just playing in front of the best fans in the country makes you feel really good.” – Isaiah Campbell on the support of the crowds at Baum Stadium
“I love playing the field, defense is wonderful. Like I said, Jax Biggers is one of the best shortstop’s I’ve ever played with and I’ve learned so much from him. Anytime I get a chance to play with him, or (Carson) Shaddy or (Hunter) Wilson, or (Casey) Martin, I just love it. So being on the field with those guys is just a lot of fun.” – Jack Kenley having a good defensive game on Sunday
Arkansas will finish the 2018 regular season on the road next week as it travels to Athens, Georgia to face the No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs with a three-game series starting on Thursday at Foley Field. First pitch for game one is set for 6 p.m. CT and will be televised on SEC Network+.