I’m absolutely sick and tired about hearing from other fan bases around the country that Arkansas baseball doesn’t know how to win a College World Series. Trust me, I think that the Razorbacks know better than anybody how to get the job done. I know that doesn’t make sense considering how there isn’t a single NCAA Title sticker on the outfield wall inside Baum-Walker Stadium, but please allow me to explain…
Here in God’s Country, a.k.a. the Natural State, things don’t come easy. One day it’s so hot that granny breaks wind just to feel a breeze then the next day it’s so cold you could chip a tooth on some soup. Not to mention, the price of lumber is up 300%, and we don’t know when they’ll ever finish the Sharp County Dollar General. Same is true for Arkansas athletics.
Take that into consideration, but today I’m not here to get into a discussion about recruiting and in-state talent compared to other Power 5 programs. I’m also not gonna talk about coaching pedigree and decisions made by athletic directors. No, not today and not when it comes to baseball on The Hill. That being said, let’s discuss what has happened when the rubber meets the road with the players the Hogs have had, especially on the diamond because that’s fresh on the brain.
In 2021, The Diamond Hogs proved time and time again that they were the best team in college baseball. Playing in the best baseball conference in the country, the Razorbacks literally swept the competition, not losing a single SEC series all year long. Not to mention, they had a secret weapon in super human closer/reliever/starter Kevin Kopps. After winning the crown in Hoover, they were the run-away favorite to win the whole damn thing following consecutive trips to Omaha behind Hall of Fame head coach Dave Van Horn.
What happened? The bats went cold two days in a row and Arkansas was eliminated by NC State in Fayetteville during the Super Regional on Sunday despite the outing of a lifetime by Kopps, 3-2. This all comes on the tails of an absolute thrashing by the Razorbacks on Friday, 21-2, which allowed the Wolf Pack to save their only two capable relievers for duty the following two games.
Talk about a brutal way to go out. Most fan bases would mark that down as the most disappointing way to lose in program history. For Razorback fans? This is just a walk in the park. It’s just another bullet on a long list of Hogs gon’ Hog moments.
Now, imagine not having the best team in the country, but the hottest team in the country. Let’s take you back to the Midwest in 2018 when Arkansas was one out away from beating Oregon State and winning the title. The hottest team in the country, the Razorbacks couldn’t capitalize on a pop-fly out of play, leading to an epic come back for the Beavers, who went on to win the CWS.
Let’s recap really quickly. The Razorbacks have been the hottest team in the country, and they have been the best team in the county in recent history. Both resulted in some other squad heading home from Omaha with the hardware. Alright, now what if they were neither? It’s baseball, right? All you need is some special outings from a few pitchers and for the bats to heat up at opportune times, correct?
Let’s go down one more trip through memory lane, shall we? In 2012, the Arkansas Razorbacks were not the best team in college baseball college, nor were they the hottest team. However, there was something special about that squad. After going to Waco and upsetting Baylor to advance to Omaha, the Hogs took two straight game at TD Ameritrade Park. Maybe this is the recipe! Low expectations and just playing with house money. That’s just not the case, but why? There was an umpire named Perry Costello who drops more calls than AT&T that unbiasedly ended the Hogs run.
Im not being petty when I tell you this as a lifelong Hog fan… Often time the best team in the country wins the CWS and a lot of times the hottest team comes out on top. The Hogs have been both and everything in-between without a single championship to show for it. This just proves my point, Arkansas fans know what it takes to win a CWS Title more than any other fan base in the country. ANSWER: The winner every year is whoever the Baseball Gods decide gets to win. Don’t call it luck, call it divine intervention. There have been countless times that the Diamond Hogs could have easily had fate swing in their favor. However, for whatever reason it hasn’t.
Let me finish by saying this…Good luck to the eight teams in Omaha this year. Players need to pitch their tails off, hit their spots, work the count and not crumble in the face of immense pressure. Coaches absolutely need to press the right buttons, change the lineup if needed or make that controversial call to the bullpen. All of those things need to happen for you to leave Omaha with a smile. Nevertheless, take it from an Arkansas fan that knows how to win the big one, you’re going to need a little help from the heavens.
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