Arkansas’ dream is still very much alive and thriving. After the offense took over in the first two games in Omaha, Arkansas got some excellent pitching to nail down a 5-2 win over defending champs Florida to book a spot in the National Championship Series.
Isaiah Campbell, after a very forgettable matchup against Florida in the regular season, was excellent. He retired the first 14 Gator hitters, and ended with a line of 5 1⁄3 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 8 K, 0 BB. His command was there in the windup, and the velocity reached 96 at times. The only time he got touched up was in the fifth inning when he had to work from the stretch. After that Jake Reindl threw 1 2⁄3 innings without allowing a hit. Matt Cronin closed the door with another two inning save. The final out was a Cronin special. Three fastballs, going right by you.
At the plate, Casey Martin and Dominic Fletcher were the work horses. Martin was 4-5 with three runs. Fletcher was 2-5 with 2 RBIs. The loudest hit of the day was his homerun in the fifth, that was nearly in the same spot he hit the one against Texas Tech.
Arkansas’ strategy at the plate was clearly to make first round draft pick Brady Singer work. His struggles against the Hogs were well documented and Arkansas wanted to make him work. They did just that, making him throw 29 pitches in the first, setting up a short outing for him. The Hogs were also able to keep Florida’s very dangerous top of the order in check. The Gators’ 1-4 hitters were all quiet, going 1-16 and three strikeouts.
Now looking ahead for Arkansas, they get either Mississippi State or Oregon State. Either the team that swept you in the regular season or a red hot team with a ton of momentum. Either way it will not be an easy task, but the Hogs are set up well. Because of Campbell’s clutch outing, Arkansas is set up to use their normal weekend rotation for the series. Blaine Knight didn’t need to pitch in an extra elimination game, so he can go in Game 1. Kacey Murphy will then pitch Tuesday on almost a full week of rest.
Before that, we get a little time to enjoy this. Arkansas just took down the defending champs to advance farther than Dave Van Horn has ever taken this program. The Hogs haven’t made it to the final since 1979, and Arkansas has their biggest game as an athletics department since maybe the 1995 National Championship in Basketball.
Enjoy it Hog fans, It’s a good day.