LIVE UPDATES: Arkansas vs Kansas State Involved One of Dumbest Things about the NCAA Tournament

Dave Van Horn, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs Kansas State, NCAA Tournament, Fayetteville Regional
photo credit: Craven Whitlow

FAYETTEVILLE — The Razorbacks were the “road” team, meaning they hit first, in Saturday night’s Arkansas vs Kansas State matchup in the winner’s bracket of the Fayetteville Regional. It was a game that saw Hagen Smith, the nation’s top pitcher, somehow give up six runs in the fifth inning – which proved to be the difference in a 6-7 loss.

You’ll be forgiven if you ask “Wait, what?” on both fronts.

Smith going down in flames in the worst inning of his season was hard enough to believe. But even before the game, there was some grappling with the Wildcats as the “home” team. They had previously been the “road” team as the 3 seed against 2 seed Louisiana Tech in the opening round. Arkansas – the No. 5 national seed – was the home team on Friday, so they switched roles on the second day of the NCAA Tournament.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a super big deal, but there is an advantage for the team who bats last because it knows exactly what it must do to win.

That’s an advantage that the higher seeded teams should have earned throughout the regular season, in addition to the 1 seed getting to play at its home ballpark. Instead, the NCAA is set on trying to make things “fair” and give every team an opportunity to hit last.

Quite frankly, that’s a dumb rule.

Plenty of Arkansas baseball fans agree:

How NCAA Tournament Should Do It Instead

What makes it even worse is there’s a super simple way to determine the home team that could easily be adopted. The rule should be that the higher-seeded team gets the “home” designation in every scenario, unless the lower-seeded team earns it.

When it’s the game with the 0-1 vs. 0-1 teams, or 1-0 vs. 1-0 or 1-1 vs. 1-1 teams, the higher-seeded squad should be home. However, if the lower-seeded team opens the regional 2-0, it would have earned the right to be the “home” team against a higher-seeded team that came through the loser’s bracket.

See how simple that is? Of course, that’s probably why the NCAA won’t do it. Oh well.

For a post-game recap of Arkansas vs Kansas State, go here:

“Luck” Plays into Worst-Case Scenario for Hagen Smith, DVH Gets Feisty + More from KSU Loss

For an inning-by-inning recap of Arkansas’ close loss vs Kansas State, see below:

LIVE UPDATES — Arkansas vs Kansas State (NCAA Tournament)

Pregame Notes from Fayetteville Regional

Kansas State and Louisiana Tech had to finish their opening game this morning, resuming in the top of the sixth at 11 a.m., and the Wildcats finished off their dominant 19-4 win. The Bulldogs had to turn around and play SEMO at 2 p.m. and were eliminated with a 9-3 loss. That means the loser of tonight’s Arkansas vs Kansas State game will play SEMO in an elimination game tomorrow, with the winner turning around and facing the winner of tonight’s game.

The most notable change to Arkansas’ starting lineup is Jack Wagner starting at designated hitter. It’s his first start since April 30 against Missouri State. He went the entire month of May without an official at bat.

T-1st: Arkansas 0, Kansas State 0

White drew a one-out walk, but that was it for Arkansas. However, McLaughlin nearly gave the Razorbacks a 2-0 lead with yet another home run after hitting two on Friday. Unfortunately for the Hogs, his fly ball traveled only 399.6 feed and was caught right up against the wall in dead center to end the inning. Wentworth threw 19 pitches.

B-1st: Arkansas 0, Kansas State 0

Smith struck out the leadoff man and then got a couple of quick ground outs. He’s at 155 strikeouts this season, which is tied for the UA single-season record. It was just a 10-pitch inning.

T-2nd: Arkansas 0, Kansas State 0

The Hogs went down in order in the second, with Wentworth notching a couple of strikeouts. He threw only 9 pitches and is up to 28 for the game.

B-2nd: Arkansas 0, Kansas State 0

Smith struck out Day to start the inning – his record-breaking 156th of the season – before issuing a one-out walk to English. He nearly erased him with a double play, but the Hogs only got the lead runner on Rivera’s grounder. Instead, White threw out Rivera trying to steal second to end the inning.

T-3rd: Arkansas 0, Kansas State 0

The first hit of the game was an infield single by Stovall, who beat out a throw from the second baseman who was shifted into shallow right. However, White followed with a check-swing dribbler that the catcher fielded and threw to first to end the inning. Wentworth is up to 38 pitches in three innings.

B-3rd: Arkansas 0, Kansas State 0

Smith got a couple of quick outs before issuing a two-out, full-count walk of Ingram. Jones followed with a grounder to short and nearly beat the throw, but was called out – a call that was challenged and upheld. Smith has thrown 38 pitches through three innings, as well.

T-4th: Arkansas 0, Kansas State 0

Back-to-back two-out singles by Aloy and Diggs put runners on the corners, but that’s where they were stranded when Holt popped out in foul territory to first. Arkansas did at least make Wentworth throw 17 pitches, so he’s up to 55 through four.

B-4th: Arkansas 0, Kansas State 0

Smith was one strike away from striking out the side in a perfect inning, but Day lined a single into center to break up the no-hitter. He was stranded, though, as English went down swinging in a full count. Smith had to throw 21 pitches that inning, so he’s up to 59 through four.

T-5th: Arkansas 2, Kansas State 0

After reaching with a one-out single through the right side, Wilmsmeyer stole second. Stovall followed with a walk and then Wilmsmeyer took third on a pitch in the dirt. It looked like Kansas State might have a chance to throw him out, but the catcher’s throw was wide. The E2 allowed him to score and moved Stovall to third. White followed with an RBI single to center. Sprague-Lott then got a soft line drive to fall over the third baseman for a single. The runners were stranded, though, as McLaughlin and Aloy flied out. Wentworth is up to 74 pitches.

B-5th: Kansas State 6, Arkansas 2

Smith issued back-to-back full-count walks to start the inning, prompting a mound visit by Matt Hobbs. Pelletier moved the runners to second and third with a sac bunt and then Ingram drove in a run with a single to right in an 0-2 count. Only one run scored, though, as runners are on the corners. After failing to get down a squeeze bunt, Jones hit a chopper over the first baseman for an RBI single in a 1-2 count. Parsons did get down a squeeze bunt to drive in the go-ahead run and then Culpepper hit a three-run bomb to right. The Wildcats have jumped all over Smith. He finally got out of it with a strikeout and ground out, but he’s thrown 92 pitches and is probably done for the night.

T-6th: Kansas State 6, Arkansas 2

Holt singled up the middle with one out and Wilmsmeyer drew a two-out walk, chasing Wentworth. The new pitcher for Kansas State is right-hander Tyson Neighbors. He got Stovall to ground out to second to end the inning and strand the runners.

B-6th: Kansas State 6, Arkansas 2

Right-hander Ben Bybee is now pitching for the Razorbacks. He notched a couple of strikeouts before getting a fly out to right. It was a 12-pitch inning for the sophomore.

T-7th: Kansas State 6, Arkansas 3

White nearly reached on an error to start the inning, and was even called safe on the field, but Kansas State challenged the call and it was overturned for an out. That was a big challenge because Sprague-Lott followed with a solo home run. Then McLaughlin was hit by a pitch. With the crowd loud and on its feet, Aloy popped out to the shortstop. Diggs grounded into the shift, but the second baseman’s throw from right field was wide, putting runners on second and third. That brought up Holt as the tying run, but he struck out on three pitches.

B-7th: Kansas State 6, Arkansas 3

Bybee retired the Wildcats in order on just 14 pitches. He got some help with a nifty play by McLaughlin at first.

T-8th: Kansas State 6, Arkansas 4

Wagner’s line drive got over the left fielder’s head for a double to lead off the inning and then Wilmsmeyer reached on an infield single, putting runners on the corners. Stovall popped out, but White smoked a double off the wall in left. He *just* missed a game-tying home run and instead got an RBI double, with the tying runs now in scoring position. That’s where they were stranded, as Sprague-Lott popped out and McLaughlin struck out looking.

B-8th: Kansas State 7, Arkansas 4

Bybee got a couple of quick outs, but then gave up a two-out solo home run to English. That gives KSU a big insurance run.

T-9th: Kansas State 7, Arkansas 6

Aloy led off the inning with a single. Diggs followed with a strikeout, but Holt hit one into the right field bullpen for a two-run blast. That makes it a one-run game. Wagner struck out on three pitches. Wilmsmeyer drew a walk to bring up Stovall, who struck out to end the game.

FINAL – Kansas State 7, Arkansas 6

See our post-game piece:

Starting Lineups – Game 4 at Fayetteville Regional

Kansas State BaseballArkansas Baseball
1. Brendan Jones – CF1. Peyton Stovall – 2B
2. Jaden Parsons – 3B2. Hudson White – C
3. Kaelen Culpepper – SS3. Jared Sprague-Lott – 3B
4. Brady Day – 2B4. Ben McLaughlin – 1B
5. Nick English – RF5. Wehiwa Aloy – SS
6. Danniel Rivera – DH6. Kendall Diggs – RF
7. David Bishop – 1B7. Peyton Holt – LF
8. Raphael Pelletier – C8. Jack Wagner – DH
9. Chuck Ingram – LF9. Ty Wilmsmeyer
Pitching: RHP Jackson WentworthPitching: LHP Hagen Smith

How to Watch Arkansas vs Kansas State (NCAA Tournament)

Date: Saturday, June 1

Location: Baum-Walker Stadium (Fayetteville, Ark.)

First Pitch: 8:06 p.m. CT

TV/Stream: ESPNU

***

More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…

Facebook Comments