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Arkansas Fries Frogs 6-0, On To Ole Miss In Super Regionals Arkansas Fries Frogs 6-0, On To Ole Miss In Super Regionals
-Evin Demirel The No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks looked every bit the part of a top-four national team in finishing a clean sweep of the... Arkansas Fries Frogs 6-0, On To Ole Miss In Super Regionals

-Evin Demirel

The No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks looked every bit the part of a top-four national team in finishing a clean sweep of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional Sunday night. They shut out TCU 6-0 at home, reaching their eighth NCAA Super Regional in program history.

The Hogs (44-17) are back in the super regionals for the second-straight year. It’s also the first time Arkansas has reached the supers in back-to-back years since 2009 and 2010. Arkansas didn’t trail once during the three-game sweep, further confirming Baum-Walker Stadium as one of the most intimidating places in the nation to play.

Since 2017, the Hogs are 95-18 at home and have lost just three home series. “We always feel great at home,” Razorback Trevor Ezell said. “We have the best fans in the country. They can change the game for us and we really feel that on the field. I think the other teams, when they come in to play here, can feel that.” This year, the Razorbacks are averaging 8.6 runs per game at Baum-Walker and the pitching staff has a team ERA of 3.52. They are holding opponents to a .219 batting average. 

The starting pitchers were especially impressive during these regionals. Like Connor Noland and Isaiah Campbell before him, freshman lefty Patrick Wicklander handcuffed TCU hitters for five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, one walk and seven strikeouts on 89 pitches. The seven punch outs were just one shy of a season high and the most since striking out seven against No. 18 Tennessee (April 27).

Combined, the trio of Noland, Campbell and Wicklander had a 0.99 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched and struck out 17 batters with only two walks allowed.

“I thought it was just an outstanding job by Patrick Wicklander,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “Coming out as a freshman, packed crowd, a night game, had a little delay [because of lightning]. And he just came out and did a tremendous job. He only walked one. He did get behind some hitters, but he found a way to fight back from 3-1, 3-2 to get outs, strikeouts. He worked out of a jam or two and gave us a chance to really set up our bullpen to finish the game up.”

“Arkansas looks like a national champion” 

After losing to Arkansas in consecutive games, TCU’s coach had high praise for his opponent. “Arkansas looks like a national champion,” Jim Schlossnagle, a two-time national coach of the year, said.

“Arkansas will be tough to beat especially if [Isaiah] Campbell and the other starters give ‘em a chance. That bullpen is tough,” he added. “Arkansas is gonna be really tough to beat. They’re set up to make a similar run to last year.”

Especially if the Hogs keep hitting like they did against TCU on Sunday.

For the first time in the regionals, Arkansas jumped on its opponent in the first inning scoring three times off TCU starter Jared Janczak to take a 3-0 lead. It started with a one-out, two-RBI double by Dominic Fletcher, then followed with another double, this time from Jack Kenley, to bring Fletcher home. The Razorbacks held that lead for the entire game, finishing with its fifth shutout of the season. 

Sophomore designated hitter Matt Goodheart put a final dagger into TCU’s season when he crushed a two-run home run off the scoreboard in right-centerfield in the fifth inning. The blast was the Magnolia, Ark. native’s fourth of the year and chased Janczak from the game.

“It honestly felt very good,” Goodheart said. “It was probably the best ball I’ve hit with two strikes this year. As soon as I hit it, I knew it had a good chance of going. It was the best feeling in the world.”

Watch it at 3:45 below:

NCAA Fayetteville Regional All-Tournament Team

Catcher – Casey Opitz (Arkansas)

First Base – Trevor Ezell (Arkansas)

Second Base – Jack Kenley (Arkansas)

Third Base – Buddy Dewaine (CCSU)

Shortstop – Adam Oviedo (TCU)

Outfield – Heston Kjerstad (Arkansas)

Outfield – Johnny Rizer (TCU)

Outfield – Dave Matthews (CCSU)

DH – Hunter Wolfe (TCU)

Starting Pitcher – Isaiah Campbell (Arkansas)

Starting Pitcher – Connor Noland (Arkansas)

Relief Pitcher – Matt Cronin (Arkansas)

Relief Pitcher – Jake Eissler (TCU)

Tournament MVP – Isaiah Campbell (Arkansas)

What’s Next?

Arkansas will face fellow SEC member Ole Miss in this upcoming weekend’s super regional. UPDATE: Here’s the TV schedule:

2019 NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional Schedule
Saturday, June 8           #5 Arkansas vs. #12 Ole Miss                                        11 a.m. (ESPN)

Sunday, June 9             #5 Arkansas vs. #12 Ole Miss                                        2 p.m. (ESPNU)

Monday, June 10         #5 Arkansas vs. #12 Ole Miss (if necessary)                   3 p.m. (ESPN2)

Arkansas is making its eighth Super Regional appearance in school history. With two wins, the Razorbacks will advance to the College World Series for the 10th time in school history.

Tickets Are SOLD OUT

All tickets for this weekend’s super regional are sold out. Fans are encouraged to continue referencing ArkansasRazorbacks.com for all super regional information as the week develops.

The Rebels finished off the NCAA Oxford Regional with three-straight wins and handed Arkansas its own home series loss this year.

As a top-eight national seed, Arkansas will host the super regional round of the NCAA Tournament, but dates and game times for the Fayetteville Super Regional won’t be set until Tuesday. The is the fourth time Fayetteville has hosted a super regional in school history.

“Throw records out the window,” Van Horn said. “It’s who plays well that weekend. Ole Miss is really talented, they have older guys. They have power. They have a shortstop who can flat out play.”

Van Horn goes into Arkansas’ NCAA Tournament run so far, and its upcoming Ole Miss showdown, at the 8:00 mark below:

For more on Arkansas’ dominance during the regional round, check out the archived stories below:

Arkansas Crushes CCSU 11-5, Pivots To TCU & Its Stud Pitcher

Step No.1 of Arkansas’ road to redemption in the College World Series is complete.

In their 2019 NCAA Tournament opener on Friday, the Razorbacks baseball team defeated Central Connecticut State 11-5. Four multi-hit performances and a great pitching performance from freshman Connor Noland fueled the win.

Noland, who picked up his third win of the year, got the nod to start the regional-opener and was cool and calm in his first postseason appearance. He worked 5.1 innings and allowed only two hits with one earned run. Noland didn’t walk a single batter. It’s the third time this year he hasn’t allowed a walk in five or more innings and the second-straight game he’s allowed two or less hits.

“I was just attacking the zone today,” Noland said. “Throwing strikes, filling it up, keeping them off balance with off-speeds. I think that’s just really been the key for me having a successful outing. Just keeping them off balance and keeping them guessing throughout the outing.”

It was the 17th start of the season for the Greenwood, Arkansas native, who retired the first nine batters he faced before Central Connecticut registered its first hit. While CCSU got on the board later in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly, Noland recovered and retired the final five batters he faced. 

“I thought it started with Connor coming out and just throwing a lot of strikes. He got through the first couple of innings on probably less than 20 pitches. He had a lot of ground balls. When he’s getting ground balls, he’s the got the two-seamer sinking and running. He pitches to contact and that’s what we wanted him to do.”

-Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn

With Noland rolling through the Central Connecticut lineup, Trevor Ezell, Heston Kjerstad, Jack Kenley and Christian Franklin led the way for the Hogs offense. Each recorded two or more hits. Ezell and Kjerstad both had three-hit games, with Ezell coming away with the best line of 3-for-5 with three RBIs.

After Arkansas started scored three runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings, Ezell added two more in the eighth to help put the game away. He blasted two-run home run into the Hog Pen in left field. It was Ezell’s ninth of the year and 25th of his career. The nine home runs is also a personal best for a single season in his career.

Watch Ezell smash the cement-mixer at the 9:50 mark here:

After tallying only 15 hits over three games at the SEC Tournament last week, the Razorback offense knocked around the Central Connecticut pitching staff for 13 hits. That’s the most since blasting 15 in a series-opening win over LSU on May 9. The 11 runs was also the most since scoring 11 on LSU on May 10. Arkansas has scored 10 or more runs in 20 games this season and is 20-0 in those games. 

“I was hoping we’d break out,” Van Horn said afterward. “Sometimes you just have to think back to other seasons this time of the year, and how they finished. If you think about that 2009 season, we couldn’t get out of our own way at the end of the year then finally broke out late at the end of that first game of the regional. Then, we didn’t stop hitting. I was kind of hoping that would happen. We showed signs of breaking out today. We put together some good swings. I was just glad to see us drive in some runs because that had been a bit of an issue.”

Ezell and Kjerstad Go Deep

Early on, Heston Kjerstad helped break open the game. Leading just 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Kjerstad unloaded his 15th home run of the year just to the right of the batter’s eye in centerfield, making it 3-1 Arkansas. Kjerstad is now tied with shortstop Casey Martin for the team lead and has one more home run than he did a year ago. Kjerstad finished the game 3-for-4, adding in an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth.

“I thought he did a really good job of laying off some low pitches early. The at-bat where he singled, that was with two strikes and he laid off a pitch and then he threw him a breaking ball and he hit it through the first baseman and the second baseman and  that got it going a little bit. (Kjerstad) was just being a little more selective and not going out of the zone after a lot of pitches when he got behind. That was really good to see.”

-Head coach Dave Van Horn on Heston Kjerstad

Kopps Stops CCSU Momentum

Redshirt junior Kevin Kopps followed Noland out of the bullpen in the middle of the sixth and struck out four over 1.2 hitless innings, needing only 28 pitches. The four strikeouts ties a career high and it’s the sixth time in his last seven appearances that he’s gone an inning or more.

Dave Van Horn on the team’s 11-5 win over Central Connecticut

“Just a good job by our offense, big 2-out hits and just punching in runs here and there. I thought Central Connecticut did a really nice job swinging the bats. They battled us and they hit some balls hard. The game was never really in hand. We felt like we needed to keep scoring and just a good job by the team kind of getting it going better offensively. We only left four runners on base today so we got some big hits and we did a nice job of getting them around and scoring.”

Heston Kjerstad on the offense blasting CCSU out of the park:

“It was really good for our team to come out here. A lot of people had said we had struggled when we went out on the road at A&M and the SEC Tournament but at the end of the day that’s baseball for you.  Your offense isn’t going to be hot every game of the year. Every series it’s going to come and go. But I just saw we stuck with it and kept our approaches and today it paid off and we put up runs like we had been most of the season. It was really nice for all of us.” – 

For Arkansas (42-17), this was the fifth-straight regional-opening victory dating back to 2014. The 11 runs scored is also the most scored in a regional game since an 11-10 victory over Missouri State in 2017.

Now, Arkansas turns its attention to TCU, which beat No. 2 seed California 13-2 on Friday night. The Hogs and Frogs play at 6 p.m. today. The game will stream live online at ESPN.com.

The matchup features two of the nation’s best pitchers.

Left-hander Nick Lodolo (6-5, 2.48 ERA) will start for TCU. The Razorbacks counter with their ace, right-hander Isaiah Campbell (10-1, 2.38). Lodolo is expected to be selected in the top 10 in Monday’s MLB draft, according to MLB.com. Campbell is rated the No. 45 prospect.

Campbell is a seasoned veteran who is at a distinct advantage playing at home, where the Hogs are 28-6 this season. Meanwhile, Lodolo will be playing in his first regional or super regional, although he did make a start in the 2017 College World Series.

Lodolo struck out 12 but allowed five earned runs in his last start May 22 against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament.

TCU’s coach breaks down the showdown here:

The NCAA messed up before the CCSU game

[Below post is from May 27]

As an overall No. 5 seed, the Razorback baseball team will play Central Connecticut at 1 p.m. CT on Friday, June 1. The game is part of the four-team Fayetteville regional in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Although the NCAA had erroneously awarded the regional to “Fayetteville, Alaska” on Sunday night, make no mistake about it — Arkansas is a serious contender for the 2019 national championship. The draw below only helps its cause:

2019 NCAA Fayetteville Regional

  1. (5 national seed) Arkansas (41-17)
  2. California (32-18)
  3. TCU (32-26)
  4. Central Connecticut (30-21)

(No. 2 seed California will face off against No. 3 TCU at 6 p.m. CT.)

Arkansas baseball’s No. 5 overall seed matches the seed last year’s team got — the highest in program history. Arkansas will head into tournament play as a top-8 national seed for the fourth time in school history. This is the 16th appearance for Arkansas in the last 17 years and it’s the first time Baum Stadium has been selected as a host site in three-straight seasons.

More About the Sacrificial Lamb Walking Into the Razorbacks’ Grip

Central Connecticut comes from the Northeast Conference, where it just won its second conference title in three years to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

It has not defeated a single Top 50 team all year. And it’s won only half of its road games:

via D1baseball.com

Arkansas, which excels at home, will be a prohibitive favorite against this squad. Looking beyond CCU, Arkansas would face either California or TCU.

California, with an RPI of 30, finished 4-8 against Top 25 teams. Three of those wins, however, came against No. 1 UCLA, No. 4 Stanford and defending national champs Oregon State (now No. 12).

Here’s Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn previewing the NCAA Regionals in Fayetteville:

2019 NCAA Fayetteville Regional Schedule
Friday, May 31
Game 1 – No. 1 Arkansas vs. No. 4 Central Connecticut, 1 p.m. CT (ESPN3)
Game 2 – No. 2 California vs. No. 3 TCU, 6 p.m. CT (ESPN3)

Saturday, June 1
Game 3 – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, TBA (ESPN3)
Game 4 – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, TBA (ESPN3)

Sunday, June 2
Game 5 – Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, TBA (ESPN3)
Game 6 – Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 4, TBA (ESPN3)

Monday, June 3
Game 7 – Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6 (if necessary), TBA (ESPN3)

Arkansas is 83-66 (.557) all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including a 57-41 (.582) record in regional action. The Razorbacks have advanced to the College World Series nine times and have advanced to a Super Regional seven times. Head coach Dave Van Horn has led Arkansas to the NCAA Regional Final in each of his last eight tournament appearances.

The team advancing from the Fayetteville, Arkansas Regional will play the winner of the Oxford, Mississippi Regional.

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