The Hogs are off and running in the Stillwater regional, opening the tournament with an 8-6 triumph over Oral Roberts Friday afternoon. The win sets up Arkansas to face either host Oklahoma State or Big East champ St. John's Saturday night.
The Razorbacks were down 3-2 to Oral Roberts heading into the 6th inning, but took over the game late with four runs in the sixth and two more in the 8th. The 8-3 lead allowed Arkansas to relax a bit, leading Dave Van Horn to pull Zach Jackson after pitching only the 8th inning and saving his arm from an extra inning. Arkansas' Lance Phillips did give up a two-out three-run homer to Anthony Sequeira to make things interesting, but Josh Alberius came on to clinch the game for Arkansas.
Hey, remember that time some were concerned about Andrew Benintendi? That was a cute few minutes. Arkansas' freshly minted player of the year went 3-4 and his two-RBI double in the sixth is what initially gave the Razorbacks the lead. Tyler Spoon and Rick Nomura followed up with more RBIs in the sixth, and Clark Eagan drove in the runs in the 8th.
Trey Killian went five innings for Arkansas, allowing three runs on eight hits. Van Horn has announced Keaton McKinney will start the second game for the Hogs. McKinney only pitched two innings in the SEC Tournament because his hip began to bother him and his effectiveness dropped. His health has been a huge question mark for Arkansas entering the regional, so he'll certainly be tested against tonight's winner.
But for now, Arkansas is in the winner's bracket with another game tomorrow and at least one more on Sunday. And a reminder, if the Razorbacks win the regional, and there's still much more work to be done, they will host the super regional in Fayetteville.