It took nearly three hours, but it was oh so worth it. Arkansas’ bottom of the sixth inning was split by a lengthy weather delay, but Arkansas’ first ten hitters of the inning reached base, they put up an eight spot, and it gave them enough cushion for a comfortable 11-5 win over Texas to open the College World Series. The Hogs had 15 hits, 12 of them singles, and played station to station baseball almost all game. A contrast to the long balls we’ve seen all season.
Blaine Knight had another solid outing and is 13-0 on the year. He threw five innings, giving up four hits and two runs. The bullpen arms of Barrett Loseke, Kole Ramage, Bryce Bonnin, and Cody Scroggins weren’t completely in control, but with the big lead they got the outs that were needed of them, all while saving Matt Cronin and Jake Reindl for more high pressure situations later in the tournament.
Arkansas opened the scoring with an RBI single from Heston Kjerstad. He and fellow freshman Casey Martin looked right at home in Omaha. Martin was 2-4 with an RBI, while Kjerstad was 3-5 and three RBI’s. They were two of five different Razorback hitters with multi-hit games.
Texas would respond with a run in both the third and fifth innings, giving them a two run lead. In the bottom of the fifth, Kjerstad ran out a potential double play ball and was safe thanks to an errant throw. Getting back to the bag he had what many might call the highlight of the game.
Kjerstad isn’t messing around. pic.twitter.com/hAumdbf1W0— Sawyer Radler (@SportsTalkSaw) June 17, 2018
The next batter was Luke Bonfield and he had what was actually the real play of the game. The wind has been blowing straight in from center for the first few games of the tournament. Bonfield got all of 1-1 pitch and sent it out to left centerfield for a 3-2 lead.
Arkansas would start the marathon sixth inning with singles from Carson Shaddy and Jared Gates. Then three straight walks drove in two runs and made things 5-2 when the rain came. There was concern online and with the tv crew if the delay could cause a swing in momentum, the Hogs put a quick stop to that. Arkansas just kept spraying singles all over the field. Four of the next five hitters had RBI singles and the lead had extended to 11-2. All the momentum was back with the Hogs.
Texas would continue to battle but Arkansas kept things from getting too nervy. They kept Golden Spikes finalist Kody Clemens in check for the game. He just had a 1-5 night with two strikeouts.
The Hogs now are in the winners bracket, and will face the winner of Florida and Texas Tech on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT. They go into the game in pretty good shape in terms of bullpen arms. The big inning really allowed Dave Van Horn to save his most important bullpen arms for the rest of the tourney.
But for the time being, that just felt really good. Arkansas was back in Omaha, and they got their first win there since 2012. Even better that it was able to happen against Texas. The Hogs have been in the SEC for over two decades now, but it still feels really good to beat Texas.