It was by no means a pretty win, but when you’re this close to your first win in school history, no one cares how pretty it is. The Hogs got the 4-1 win over Oregon State and that ugly win has them just one win away from a National Title. Everyone chipped in for this win. There was defense, there was pitching, and while no one had a spectacular game (except for Blaine giving us what he usually does) it was a well rounded effort for the win.
First we need to talk appreciate Blaine Knight. Arkansas has become accustomed to getting around six innings of great stuff from Knight, and he usually left games with a decent sized lead. Arkansas got that again, and once again he out did an excellent pitcher to finish the season 14-0. Just go through and look at the names he took down this season.
The year we got from Blaine Knight was not normal. It was better than extraordinary. It was the best year any pitcher has had at Arkansas, but Blaine did it so often he made it seem ordinary. Arkansas fans expected this kind of performance every week from him and every week he delivered.
The Hogs were having a horrible time trying to square up anything on Luke Heimlich, only getting one hit in the first four innings. Then in the bottom of the inning, the Hogs caught a huge break. With runners on the corners and nobody out, Arkansas had a double play ball that would have been tough to turn under normal circumstances. Initially it appeared that Arkansas couldn’t turn it in time and the Beavers would have a 2-0 lead, but Adley Rutschman was ruled to have interfered with the play and Trevor Larnach had to return to third. While there was some confusion due to explanation given by the umpire, the ruling was ultimately correct and Arkansas had the momentum.
Arkansas’ fifth inning had just two singles and the Hogs nearly batted around in the frame. Carson Shaddy walked, and back to back singles from Grant Koch and Jax Biggers loaded the bases. Then the wheels fell off for Heimlich and the Beavers. Eric Cole was hit by a pitch that brought in a run. An error from Nick Madrigal brought in another run, and Heston Kjerstad walked to bring in a fourth.
And you want highlights? There weren’t any bombs to show, but man were there some good defensive plays. The biggest was this diving catch from Jared Gates.
Barrett Loseke and Matt Cronin came in and shut the door with minimal stress. They combined to strikeout five of the 10 batters they faced and Loseke allowed just two hits (one of which was gunned down by Kjerstad).
Game one went according to plan for Dave Van Horn. Now comes the hardest game to finish, but if they do finish it, the Hogs are coming home with a trophy.