This Arkansas team is getting really comfortable playing with the lead, and did so again, leading wire-to-wire in a 7-4 win over Texas Tech. The win puts Arkansas in the ideal 2-0 position and just one victory away from the National Championship Series. Arkansas got huge performances from Dominic Fletcher (4-4, 4 RBI’s) and Barrett Loseke (3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 5 K) to seal the spot in the semifinals.
The Hogs were the road team, and after nearly 20 hours of rain delays, they jumped all over the ball. Eric Cole and Casey Martin were the first two batters and each got hits to start things off. The Red Raiders nearly got out of the jam, but with two outs a routine fly to left center field turned into disaster. The two outfielders collided and both runners were able to score.
After that it looked like the Hogs might break things open. The wind wasn’t blowing straight in like it was earlier in the tournament. In the second, Jared Gates continued his postseason tear with a solo shot. Then Dominic Fletcher got absolutely all of another one in the fourth.
The Red Raiders wouldn’t go quietly though. Brian Klein got a hold of a two out double in the bottom of the fifth to cut the lead to 5-2, chasing Kasey Murphy. Loseke came back in and shut things back down. Tech only managed two hits off of him, and in a similar story to the regular season matchup, Loseke dominated. So far this season, he has thrown 7 2⁄3 innings, giving up just two hits and striking out 15.
The Razorbacks would get two more insurance runs in the top of the eighth. A pair of RBI singles brought the lead back up to 7-2 and made things more comfortable. That cushion made things more comfortable in the ninth, even when Tech got a pair of runs on a double that was just barely down the first baseline. Matt Cronin was able to settle down, and finished the game off for the Hogs.
This is the furthest the Hogs have gone in the NCAA Tournament since 2012. Arkansas went 2-0 in that tournament before losing twice to South Carolina. Arkansas has their sights set on a deeper run than that, and right now with the offense clicking like it is, a deeper run is certainly a possibility.