FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Freshman Christian Franklin came up with the big hits and the big defensive play Saturday afternoon, helping the 10th-ranked Arkansas baseball team to a 4-3 victory over Missouri for the series win and fifth-straight victory.
Franklin went just 1-for-2 at the plate, but drove in three of Arkansas’ four runs, two coming from a clutch two-out single up the middle in the fourth inning that helped build the Hogs’ lead to 4-0. It’s Franklin’s team-leading seventh multi-RBI game of the year and fourth with three or more.
He also came through with his glove in the ninth on a deep fly ball in foul territory, needing to reach into the stands to make the final out of the game, preserving Arkansas’ third one-run win of the year.
With the win, Arkansas (16-2, 2-0 SEC) continues its best start to a season since 2012 and has won eight-straight in SEC-opening series dating back to 2017. Missouri (11-7, 0-2 SEC) suffers just its third loss in its last eight games and falls to 9-10 in its all-time SEC three-game series-opening matchups, dating back to 2013.
Freshman right-hander Connor Noland had one of his strongest starts of the season, going 4.2 innings with just one run allowed on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts. He wasn’t able to earn the victory, but has worked at least four innings in four of his five starts and struck out four or more twice.
Christian Franklin Still Dangerous With Two Outs
Out of the nine-hole, freshman Christian Franklin has been, arguably, Arkansas’ best hitter in the lineup with two outs. On Saturday, Franklin drove in the game’s second run on a sacrifice fly with two outs and added two more with his two-out single up the middle to bring in the third and fourth runs. This season, Franklin is hitting .350 (7-for-20) with two away and a team-leading 10 RBIs.
Matt Cronin Corrals Second Save In Consecutive Days
For the second-straight day, junior closer Matt Cronin shut the door on the Missouri offense in the ninth inning, needing only 12 pitches to earn his sixth save of the year. It’s the second time this season that Cronin has garnered a save in consecutive days and he is two games ahead of last year’s pace where he set the school record for saves in a season (14).
Kole Ramage “The Vulture”
Earning his fourth win in seven appearances, sophomore Kole Ramage now ties with Isaiah Campbell for the team lead in wins and has worked three or more innings in three of those victories. In each of those decisions, Ramage was called on out of the bullpen after the starting pitcher could not go the minimum of five innings. Saturday’s game with Missouri marked the first earned run allowed by Ramage in 14 innings of work this season.
“I thought his stuff… The second inning was okay, the third and fourth were really good. He had his breaking ball rolling. Even in the fifth, I thought he threw the ball pretty good to the first hitter or two. He recovered and did a tremendous job and he ate up some innings there. For Connor to give us an opportunity to get into the game a little bit, and then for us to get the lead and to win it, ended up being huge for us.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Connor Noland’s start
“What a great catch. You never know what is going to happen. That was a big strong kid at the plate. I was watching BP both days and he was launching balls. Anything could happen on a day like this when the wind is blowing out and the air is thin and you can still miss-hit a ball, but if you catch it just right, it can get out of the park.” – Dave Van Horn on Christian Franklin’s game-ending catch in foul territory
“It was right in front of my face. Running over there, I had an idea it was going to be a close play maybe so I wanted to get over there and give myself the best chance to catch the ball. As it was coming down that fan was reaching over with his glove and luckily it went a little bit over his glove and I was able to make that catch so that was good.” – Christian Franklin on his catch in the stands for the final out
“We got a lot of confidence right now. We all know that we can get in and do the job. Obviously big series win, and the jobs not done. We got to come out tomorrow and play for the sweep.” – Kole Ramage on the pitching staff