April 20, 2024

Arkansas pitcher Hagen Smith ties program record with 17 strikeouts in 6 innings

Arkansas left-hander Hagen Smith made history on Friday, striking out 17 batters in six scoreless innings to tie the Razorbacks’ single-game strikeout record in a start against No. 7 Oregon State.

Facing off against the Beavers, Smith recorded 17 of his 18 outs via strikeout. Three of those strikeouts were of Oregon State star Travis Travis Bazzana, expected to be one of the top prospects for this year’s MLB Draft.

Smith, a likely first-round pick himself according to The Athletic’s Keith Law, needed just 78 pitches to get through those six innings. He touched 99 mph with his fastball and averaged 96.7 on the pitch, while throwing a devastating slider that sat in the mid-80s. Smith induced 25 swings and misses out of his 78 pitches thrown.

It was the first of three games in a highly anticipated match up between No. 2 Arkansas and Oregon State. Smith left the game leading 4-0, but Oregon State immediately came back with two runs in the seventh. The Razorbacks clinched a 5-4 victory in the bottom of the eighth after Peyton Holt hit a two-out RBI triple to bring home the winning run. The game was played in front of a lively crowd at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

An epic performance from Smith

This wasn’t against some overmatched midweek opponent — Oregon State is a top-10 team that won its first four games of the season by a combined score of 52-17.

Smith entered the year with a ton of hype — in fact, two of the three SEC coaches we spoke to for our preseason coaches forum singled out Arkansas’ left-hander as the best pitcher in the country — but it’s just unfathomable that someone can strike out 17 batters in six innings at the highest level of college baseball.

To add an extra layer of intrigue, Smith struggled last weekend in the season-opener, allowing three earned runs in only one inning against James Madison. He threw 42 pitches in that one inning; tonight, he threw 78 pitches in six innings.

It would have been fun to see how much more damage Smith could have done, but Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn wisely pulled him after six innings. It’s still very early in the season, and college pitchers typically aren’t ready to throw 100 or so pitches until a month into the season. — Mitch Light, college football senior editor

Required reading

(Photo: Andrew Nelles / USA Today)