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Arkansas hoping Jace Bohrofen’s hitting streak has ended entering Saturday’s semifinal game against Texas A&M at the SEC Tournament

Bohrofen, Hogs hope big hit ended slump by Bob Holt | May 27, 2023 at 7:34 a.m.
Arkansas right fielder Jace Bohrofen hits a two-run single during the fourth inning of the Razorbacks’ 5-4 victory over LSU during the SEC Baseball Tournament on Thursday at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Ala. Despite recent struggles, Bohrofen is the team’s leading hitter this season at .326. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)

HOOVER, Ala. -- Jace Bohrofen is the University of Arkansas baseball team's leading hitter this season, but it has been a rough couple of weeks for the junior outfielder from Oklahoma City.

When Bohrofen stepped to the plate against LSU reliever Riley Cooper in the bottom of the fourth inning with two outs and the bases loaded in Thursday night's SEC Tournament game, he was in a 2-for-29 slump.

It didn't become 2 for 30.

After taking a slider for a strike, Bohrofen hit a fastball up the middle for a two-run single that ultimately provided the winning runs in the No. 4 Razorbacks' 5-4 victory over the No. 3 Tigers at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

Bohrofen's 63rd hit of the season gave Arkansas a 5-2 lead and helped the Razorbacks (41-15) advance to today's noon semifinal game against Texas A&M, which beat LSU 5-4 on Friday.

"It ended up being the difference in the ballgame," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "So it was clutch for us in that situation."

Bohrofen, who bats left-handed, hit his team-leading 14th home run at Vanderbilt last week, but he was 1 for 15 in the series.

An indication of how well Bohrofen has hit this season is that he's still has team-best .326 average despite his struggles in recent games, is tied with Brady Slavens for the team lead with 14 doubles and has scored a team-high 51 runs.

"I've had a good year for the most part," Bohrofen said. "I've kind of hit a little bump in the road here. It's been tough, but I'm just trying to still grind out at-bats and compete.

"I know it's coming. I know there's better days ahead. I'm looking back on my success to give me confidence for my next at-bat."

Bohrofen was batting .388 midway through the SEC schedule.

"What I've seen from him is what I've seen from a lot of hitters," Van Horn said. "Things go your way, and it's all good, you feel good.

"Then when it doesn't go good, you start questioning your swing or if you're holding the bat right? Do you need to move around in the box and make all these adjustments?

"Also the fact that it's late in the season, and he's been our guy, and he's struggling. I think he's just been pressing.

"Hopefully that swing [against LSU] and that base hit will loosen him up a little bit and he'll just go back to being himself."

Bohrofen made his first 34 starts this season in right field, started eight times in left field when Jared Wegner suffered a broken thumb, then shifted to center field for 10 starts when Tavian Josenberger was sidelined by a strained hamstring.

With Wegner and Josenberger both back in the lineup, Bohrofen has started the past five games back in right field. He also has two starts at designated hitter.

"You stick a guy that's been playing right field -- a big guy -- in center, you think some things are going to happen," Van Horn said. "He's not going to get to some balls.

"I thought Jace did a great job for those three weeks when Tavian was out. He made all the plays. It wasn't like we were worried about it.

"Then left field is a hard position, and Jace played it easy. He did a tremendous job there."

Another stat Bohrofen leads the Razorbacks in is being hit by a pitch 16 times.

"They try to throw fastballs in on him," Van Horn said. "They know that if they miss and it stays over the plate a little bit, he can hit it out of the park.

"So they really try to get it to the corner, maybe a few inches in, jam him. Maybe get a call, and a lot of times they hit him."

Bohrofen said he doesn't get overly close to the plate in his stance.

"It's really just a matter of guys coming in on me and missing their spot," he said. "I'm not going to move out of the way, just because I know I can get on base if it hits me."

Arkansas second baseman Peyton Holt said he appreciates Bohrofen's approach and what he's meant to the team.

"It's been awesome to watch him and play with him," Holt said. "He's definitely one of our top hitters.

"Every hitter goes through a little rough patch, and he's done a really good job not letting it affect him in the field.

"He's been making plays and giving us good at-bats, even when he's not getting on base.

"If it means something toward the end of the game, I think he's done a really good job."

In Arkansas' five-run rally against LSU in the fourth inning Thursday, Bohrofen took Cooper's first pitch to him for a strike before hitting the next pitch up the middle to score Holt and Parker Rowland.

"The first pitch was a slider," Bohrofen said. "It wasn't my pitch.

"I was waiting for a pitch I could drive and get those runners in. He left a fastball over the plate and I just put a good swing on it."

The Tigers were playing Bohrofen to pull against left-handing pitching Cooper, but he hit the ball where the second baseman likely could have fielded it if not for the defensive shift.

"You'd like to say you were aiming there," Bohrofen said with smile of going up the middle. "But it's just kind of where the ball went."

After enduring a 2-for-29 stretch, Bohrofen was due a little good luck.

"I think on a scale of 1 to 10, it's probably a 9-and-a-half," Van Horn said when asked to assess Bohrofen's all-around season. "He's been a great teammate. He's a great makeup guy.

"He worked hard this offseason to make sure he had the season that he knew he could.

"We wouldn't be where we are -- with the record we have -- without him."

Print Headline: Difference-maker


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