FAYETTEVILLE -- Connor Noland's first college baseball start went about as well as his first start as a quarterback for the University of Arkansas football team last fall.
Noland, a freshman right-hander from Greenwood, pitched 4⅔ innings in his debut Saturday. He didn't get the individual win, but he helped the Razorbacks to a 12-3 victory over Eastern Illinois in the second game of a doubleheader at Baum-Walker Stadium to clinch the sweep. The Razorbacks won the first game 15-7.
Noland left the game after EIU loaded the bases on two errors -- including one by Noland -- and a single in the top of the fifth inning. Two runs scored against relief pitcher Kole Ramage, which left Noland with a final line of 2 unearned runs on 4 hits and 1 walk and 7 strikeouts.
Noland was pulled after throwing 73 pitches on a 75-pitch count, but he was given a no-decision by the official scorer because the game was still in doubt when he came off the mound.Gallery: UA Baseball - Arkansas vs Eastern Illinois
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said he thought Noland pitched well despite a tight strike zone and a wind chill in the 20s.
"It didn't faze him and he just kept pitching," Van Horn said. "I thought his command picked up in the second and third, it was good. The fourth inning I thought he was pretty good, and the fifth inning he was getting tired and his pitch count was getting up there."
Noland led Arkansas' football team to a 23-0 victory over Tulsa in October in his first start as a quarterback. In that game, he completed 10 of 16 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown, and was intercepted once. It was one of four football games in which Noland played last fall, but the only one that he started.
"There is a lot of pressure when you go into a football game, especially with thousands of people in the stands," Noland said. "Coming out for baseball, we still had a good crowd, but I definitely had that experience and had seen that many people. It definitely made the transition a little bit easier."
Arkansas (2-0) gave Noland some early run support. Designated hitter Jordan McFarland and catcher Zack Plunkett each had RBI singles in the second inning to put the Razorbacks ahead 2-0.
First baseman Trevor Ezell and center fielder Dominic Fletcher added sacrifice fly RBI in the third inning to push Arkansas' lead to 4-0.
All four runs came against EIU starter Michael YaSenka, a right-handed junior-college transfer who struck out 5 and allowed 5 hits in 5 innings. YaSenka was pitching in his first game for the Panthers (0-2).
In two games Saturday, the Razorbacks scored 27 runs and recorded 32 hits, including 12 hits for extra bases.
"I think the story of the day was we got a lot of big hits," Van Horn said. "The first game, we didn't strike out the whole game; very rare. The second game, (YaSenka) struck out the first three hitters of the game, so I shouldn't have said anything about it between games."
Arkansas pulled away in the nightcap after redshirt freshman third baseman Jacob Nesbit hit a two-run single with two outs in the sixth inning to put the Razorbacks ahead 6-2.
"We got some big two-out hits throughout the day, especially in the second game," Van Horn said.
Ramage earned the win by throwing 2⅓ innings. He allowed 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4.
"He didn't have the command he normally has, but he got us some big outs," Van Horn said.
Arkansas hit four home runs in the first game of the doubleheader.
Ezell hit a solo home run in the third inning, Christian Franklin added a three-run home run and Heston Kjerstad a two-run home run in the fourth, and Jack Kenley hit a solo home run in the sixth. Arkansas also hit five doubles.
Seven Arkansas players had multi-hit games. Ezell and Casey Martin had three hits, and Matt Goodheart, Casey Opitz, Nesbit, Kenley and Franklin had two apiece.
The Razorbacks scored eight runs in the fourth inning against EIU starting pitcher Tyler Jones, who allowed nine runs on nine hits. In addition to the home runs by Franklin and Kjerstad, there were RBI doubles by Opitz and Kenley to put Arkansas ahead 9-0.
Arkansas starting pitcher Isaiah Campbell pitched 5 innings and allowed 3 runs on 5 hits. He struck out five batters and did not issue a walk.
Campbell was perfect through four innings, but he ran into trouble in the fifth when four of the Panthers' first five hitters reached on three singles and a double. EIU added a third run in the inning on an error.
EASTERN ILLINOIS AT NO. 12 ARKANSAS
WHEN 1:05 p.m.
WHERE Baum-Walker Stadium, Fayetteville
RECORDS Arkansas 2-0, Eastern Illinois 0-2
STARTING PITCHERS Eastern Illinois: RH Spenser Dexter (0-2, 7.40 ERA in 2018); Arkansas: RH Jacob Kostyshock (0-0, 6.43 ERA)
RADIO Razorback Sports Network. Not all games will be carried by all affiliates. Check local listings.
SHORT HOPS Chuck Barrett will call today’s game at 1:05 p.m. on the Razorback Sports Network. Barrett, the playby-play voice for Arkansas’ football and men’s basketball teams, was the voice of the baseball program for 23 seasons until he stepped away from the role in 2014. Phil Elson, the Razorbacks’ baseball voice for the past five seasons, will not call the team’s first six games because of scheduling conflicts. … Every Arkansas batter had a hit by the fifth inning of Game 1 on Saturday. … The Razorbacks have never lost a season-opening series in Coach Dave Van Horn’s 17 seasons. … Saturday was the first time Arkansas has opened the season with a doubleheader since 2009, when the Razorbacks defeated Washington State by two runs in both games. Arkansas played season- opening doubleheaders most years throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
THE WEEK AHEAD
TODAY vs. Eastern Illinois, 1:05 p.m.
THURSDAY at Southern Cal, 9 p.m.
FRIDAY at Southern Cal, 8 p.m.
SATURDAY at Southern Cal, 8 p.m.
Freshman pitcher Connor Noland allowed no earned runs on 4 hits with 7 strikeouts in his Arkansas baseball debut Saturday in the second game of the Razorbacks’ doubleheader sweep over Eastern Illinois at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
Arkansas first baseman Trevor Ezell heads to first after a hit during Saturday’s doubleheader against Eastern Illinois at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville. Ezell was 4 for 8 with a double, a home run, 6 RBI and 4 runs during the Razorbacks’ sweep.
Sports on 02/17/2019
Print Headline: Noland impresses in 1st baseball start