Walker Blasts Hogs Past Tech

RUSTON, La. — With one swing of the bat — and one exchange of some heated words — Brian Walker changed everything.

All weekend, Arkansas couldn't seem to get things rolling. Then, like the flip of a switch, the Razorbacks' vocal leader turned everything around, sending a three-run home run over the center field wall. That blast was followed with some verbal back-and-forth at home plate. The result was a heated 6-2 win over Louisiana Tech in the final game of a three-game series at J.C. Love Field on Sunday as the Hogs claimed the season-opening series. In front of a crowd of 2,318, Louisiana Tech appeared ready to take the series as Texarkana native Dylan Moseley silenced the Razorbacks' bats through seven innings. In the eighth, everything changed. After retiring 20 of 21 Arkansas batters, Moseley gave up a leadoff single to Jake Dugger, followed by another shallow single to left off the bat of Jerrod Carroll. In stepped Walker. But instead of laying down the expected sacrifice bunt to move the runners over, the Razorbacks co-captain sent the first pitch he saw deep over the wall, turning Arkansas' 2-1 deficit at the time into a 4-2 lead. "I just thought, I'm not going to bunt Brian here," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said of the gamble that went against conventional baseball strategy. "We're going to let him swing, hope they give him something to hit or they thought he might be bunting and sure enough, they laid one in there. "And this is what we needed. This is the type of win we needed to get our team going." Walker's long blast might have gotten the offense going, but his exchange of words with Moseley and Tech catcher Drew Thomas as he crossed home plate might have sparked the team even more. After Walker had his say, the Bulldogs (1-2) were clearly frustrated and it showed. On the next pitch, Moseley threw behind the head of shortstop Matt Willard, leading to an ejection. "It was just one of those things where the catcher might have said something and I might have said something back," Walker said. "But whatever. Luckily, none of (our guys) got tossed and everybody came out OK." Van Horn didn't blame Louisiana Tech coach Wade Simoneaux for the brushback pitch on Willard, instead putting blame on Thomas and Moseley. "That was called by the catcher and pitcher," Van Horn said. "That wasn't called from the dugout. Simoneuax had no comment when asked if the pitch at Willard was intentional. Either way, the Razorbacks (2-1) were glad to see the bats — and their spirits — come alive on Sunday. "It's been a struggle, a long weekend," Walker said. "We didn't swing the bats that well, but against a quality opponent like Louisiana Tech, to get two out of three, that's good. "We still have to get better, but I think we showed what we're capable of doing."

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