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ESPN FPI’s Laughably Low Ranking Underlines Arkansas’ Plunge in Preseason Projections

Sam Pittman

Ah, ESPN. You either love it, hate it or love to hate it. Most reasonable people still love it. As they should. We wouldn’t have sports consumption in this country the way we have it without the Worldwide Leader. Their game production is, on a whole, still the best in the world. No one brings the level of technology, insight and value to the table that ESPN can.

Yes, the daytime talk shows are lame and largely fraudulent, but it’s no different than the person at work who has horrible opinions and blabs them all over. That person barely believes what they’re saying, too. Besides, as anybody who has ever undergone the root canal that is listening to Skip Bayless for longer than 10 seconds knows, such content sells.

ESPN is too large to lean away from some teams and toward others (consider, for example, how ESPN’s Heather Dinich tabbed Arkansas as a darkhorse for the 2022 national title). The notion of East Coast Bias is largely in people’s heads. It’s simple: the best teams and most populous areas get the most coverage. Teams that get people talking get the most coverage. That’s simply the way sports media has worked for 150-some-odd years. When focusing just on one particular area, let’s say the SEC, the Alabamas and LSUs of the world are going to garner more focus, fair or not, since winning draws eyeballs.

As such, it wasn’t a surprise to see the Crimson Tide and Tigers ranked as two of the teams inside the top 11 on the Football Power Index this week. From a roster talent standpoint, few teams can compete with what Alabama and LSU bring to the table. What was a surprise, however, was Arkansas. 

The Razorbacks are slotted as the bottom-feeding team of the SEC West in the FPI with only South Carolina, Missouri and Vanderbilt ranked lower in the entire league.

Full disclosure: I was an ESPN employee who contributed to the early days of the FPI, when it was in its infancy. It’s grown far beyond anything I could have added to its inception, however, and I couldn’t pretend to know all the data and math and algorithms that go into how the computers spit out the information to us for digestion.

Since I left the Mothership, the FPI has evolved into what ESPN calls “a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 20,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily.”

Arkansas Football Drops in Preseason Projections

I’m far from a Razorback homer, but even I have to be honest and wonder just how in the world the FPI considers Arkansas as such a lowly program, though. Overall, the Razorbacks are No. 29 in the FPI, which seems fairer. Arkansas is expected to be somewhere in the 20s when the preseason polls are released later this summer. That is actually a significant drop from January, when Arkansas was coming in the Top 15 in a lot of preseason projections.

Of course, those projections were by actual humans, not the cold Martians whom ESPN’s FPI eggheads use. Since then, the Hogs have only cemented a stellar recruiting class, which does make the super-low FPI ranking all the more baffling.

“Perhaps the most shocking pick of all in the preseason FPI from ESPN is the Razorbacks outside of the national top 25 and slotted seventh in the West with a projected record of 6-6 this fall,” 247Sports’ Brad Crawford wrote. “Could Sam Pittman’s team take a step back when they have a top-rated returning quarterback and impressive transfer class to showcase?”

Last year’s 9-4 record gives hope to fans, as does the return of coach Sam Pittman, fresh with a new deal, both offensive coordinator Kendall Briles and defensive coordinator Barry Odom, quarterback KJ Jefferson and All-American safety Jalen Catalon. Hogs football is a long way from the no-win seasons of the Chad Morris era.

Pittman, too, is still in the process of building the roster in his image and such things take time. An 8-4 regular-season record again in 2022 would be another step forward even if it’s the same as last year’s. You have to go back to the Bobby Petrino era more than a decade ago to find when Arkansas last had consecutive eight-win seasons. 

But that has to be it. Winning more than eight games in the SEC is a monumentally difficult task for anyone not named Alabama. In fact, as one anonymous SEC coach put it, going from two or three wins a year to eight is easier than eclipsing eight. Heck, even Texas A&M, which has been a staple near (not at, but near) the top of the league for a bulk of the last 10 years has done it just twice in that span and that’s with recruiting classes consistently ranked in the top 15 in the country. Arkansas football has never had a class ranked in the top 15. It doesn’t mean the Razorbacks are bad or can’t recruit, but it does mean they’re working with less depth than some of their conference cohorts. Even this year’s team, with Jefferson and Catalon and Bumper Pool and Ricky Stromberg, isn’t likely to receive much in the way of preseason All-SEC mentions. 

The schedule is a bear, of course, as well. Besides the usual gauntlet of the SEC West, Arkansas hosts Cincinnati, a team that went to the College Football Playoff last year, and travels to Brigham Young, a team that lost just two regular-season games last year, neither by more than two touchdowns. If Arkansas were to split those two, win the other two out-of-SEC games and go 5-3 in SEC – which would mark just the second time finishing with more than three wins in conference play since 2011 – the Hogs would get to eight wins, essentially duplicating last year’s success.

What ESPN’s FPI Doesn’t Consider

What the FPI doesn’t take into consideration, because it can’t, are the off-field things. Despite the talent stockpiled at LSU and Auburn, nobody would argue those particular Tigers are in better shape mentally than Arkansas. Pittman has been a godsend and is beloved. Bryan Harsin at Auburn nearly lost his job

in the offseason. New LSU football coach Brain Kelly is established but the Tigers have been a mess for the last 18 months. Arkansas beat the Bayou Bengals last year and should have beaten Auburn. It’s possible, perhaps even likely depending on how the season goes up to that point, the Razorbacks would be favored again in 2022 – especially as LSU has to travel to Fayetteville and Auburn is likely to be similar to last year’s bunch. 

None of it truly means anything, of course. Not the polls or the FPI. Quality results will lead to a ranking in the only one that matters: the College Football Playoff rankings. And those don’t even drop until halfway through the season, at which point we’ll know whether Arkansas is still trending upward or not.

So no matter what you think of ESPN’s FPI, just understand that it’s all cold, passionless numbers and, right now, the numbers say that Arkansas football has quite a bit of work to do.

What Robert Moore Did After Getting Golden Glove News Was Just as Special as His Play

Robert Moore

On Wednesday, just hours before taking the field for what turned out to be his second-to-last game as an Arkansas Razorback, Robert Moore received news of his greatest individual achievement on the college level. In winning the Rawlings Gold Glove Award as the top second baseman in Division I baseball, Moore became the first player in Arkansas baseball history to receive the annual honor.

While Moore didn’t hit as well this season as he did last year, he was still money in the field, regularly racking up highlight plays like the below:

This season, heading into Thursday night’s game, he had committed only two errors and had a .992 fielding percentage. He was part of 42 double plays and had 92 putouts for the Razorbacks. Simply not having to worry about the middle infield, as Arkansas has had the luxury of doing the last two years with Moore in Jalen Battles, is a huge advantage on the field that has paid dividends all season long.

Robert Moore’s Next-Level Gratitude

But a big reason Moore is such a good individual player was on full display soon after the award was announced. Despite the name that will be on the trophy, he didn’t act as if this award actually belonged to him alone.

He Tweeted: “Thank you to Cayden [Wallace] and Jalen [Battles] for keeping the culture of infielders strong, competitive, and having relentless focus through the practice and games….Special thanks to Peyton [Stovall] and Brady [Slavens] for saving our butts on many throughout the year. Also appreciate you guys working on picks daily and throughout the course of the year. This is just as much Peyton, Jalen and Cayden’s award as it is mine.”

That’s a true team-first mentality right there, and a great example for younger athletes as they come up the ranks.

In another part, Robert Moore wrote: “A special thank you to Bobby, Clay and Cullen for all the fungos and working with us throughout the fall and spring.

“Thank you, Zach, for positioning the infielders every gam and giving us the best opportunity to make plays for the pitching staff… Also a special thank you to Zach and his crew that work our grounds crew. Best surface in college baseball.”

He also Tweeted: “Thanks to Mike and Dylan for making great throws down to second and making JB and my job easy. Thank you to Coach [Matt] Thompson for recruiting me, believing in me, and speaking life into all of us daily, this run we have been on in the past month is a credit to the belief you installed in us every single day.”

“Lastly, thank you to Coach [Dave] Van Horn for allowing me to play for him and represent his program.”

Tony Vitello and Vols Could Learn From This

Moore’s sportsmanship extends well beyond his own team as well. He understands that the best competitors bring out the best in him, and that’s a reason he chose to play for Arkansas in the nation-leading SEC anyway. We saw that sportsmanship on full display when he embraced Auburn baseball star Sonny DiChiara after Arkansas had beaten Auburn 11-1.

Mike Irwin, the ever provocative Razorback analyst, pointed out that this is exactly the kind of behavior the look-at-me Tennessee Volunteers and their head coach Tony Vitello did not exhibit all year long.

Vitello’s program has also developed a reputation for outlandish behavior, as Nate Olson wrote.

“There has been a string of incidents where either Vitello, his assistants or players, have been tossed from games and Vitello has defended that behavior. There is a swagger that is a part of the program that old-school, baseball purists would bristle at with bat flips and eye black that is worn more like Ultimate Warrior face paint.”

Sure, Moore has flipped a bat or two in his day, but his theatrics are certainly a couple levels down from what Tennessee players are so prone to do.

Robert Moore’s Final Game Recap

It was just one of those days.

Arkansas’ offense was silenced in a 2-0 loss to Ole Miss on Thursday afternoon at Charles Schwab Field. The loss eliminates the Razorbacks from the College World Series as the Hogs finish the season with a 46-21 overall record.

Arkansas is the only team in the country with at least 45 wins in each of the last five seasons, excluding the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. The Hogs have posted seven 45-win seasons in head coach Dave Van Horn’s 20-year tenure at the helm.

Arkansas managed a pair of singles in the first inning but failed to score off Ole Miss starter Dylan DeLucia, who turned in a shutout in the decisive game. The Hogs managed just two hits the rest of the way, finding tough luck all afternoon.

Ole Miss scratched out a run in the fourth off Arkansas starter Connor Noland, when the game’s only extra-base hit off the bat of Kevin Graham found its way past a diving Peyton Stovall at first to score a leadoff single. The Rebels added an insurance run in the seventh when Calvin Harris placed a single through the right side of the Arkansas infield to score Tim Elko, extending Ole Miss’ lead to 2-0.

Noland was the tough-luck loser on Thursday. The veteran right-hander went eight strong innings to match his career high, allowing just two runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. (via Razorback Communications)

Arkansas vs Ole Miss Penultimate Game Recap

It took 12 games at the College World Series, but there was finally drama.

Arkansas survived with a 3-2 win over Ole Miss on Wednesday night at Charles Schwab Field to set up a decisive third and final game against the Rebels at 3 p.m. on ESPN2. The winner advances to the national championship series to take on Oklahoma, who advanced earlier on Wednesday after eliminating Texas A&M.

The Razorbacks cruised into the bottom of the ninth with a 3-1 lead after tacking on an insurance run in the top of the eighth inning via an RBI single from Michael Turner. Back out to start his fourth inning of relief in the ninth, Evan Taylor gave up a leadoff single to Kemp Alderman before being replaced by Brady Tygart.

The freshman struggled with command, hitting the only two batters he faced to load the bases. Zack Morris was summoned from the bullpen on short rest after starting against the Rebels on Monday and failing to get out of the first inning.

Wednesday night, however, was a different story.

The lefty was smooth in navigating his way out of a bases-loaded jam, starting with a strikeout of Hayden Leatherwood for the first out. Jace Bohrofen held onto a pop out in the outfield for the second out, avoiding disaster as he and shortstop Jalen Battles collided in shallow left.

An infield single deep in the hole at shortstop from Ole Miss’ Justin Bench brought the Rebs within a run before Morris slammed the door shut with a game-ending fly out to left field.

The game was tight from first pitch, but the Hogs struck first in the top of the second on Chris Lanzilli’s third home run of the College World Series. The Stoneham, Mass., native’s solo shot just cleared the left field wall.

The lead was short-lived, however, as Alderman answered with his own solo homer to lead off the bottom of the second.

Arkansas’ next run came in a loud, long way on Brady Slavens’ monster 436-foot solo homer to straightaway center field. The home run is the longest recorded home run in CWS history at Charles Schwab Field and just the third home run to straightaway center field at the ballpark.

Hagen Smith earned the win on Tuesday night, allowing one run on just two hits with four walks and eight strikeouts. Taylor was solid out of the pen over his three-plus innings, giving up one run on two hits with four strikeouts and no walks.

Connor Noland will start on the mound for the Razorbacks in today’s winner-take-all game against the Rebels, who will throw Dylan DeLucia. (via Razorback Communications)

Arkansas vs Ole Miss: Bohrofen’s Clutch Catch Had Curse-Busting Written All Over It

Arkansas baseball

Razorback outfielder Jace Bohrofen is a former Oklahoma prep star who played a season for the Sooners before transferring to Arkansas. On Wednesday night, he made one of the biggest plays of Arkansas baseball’s postseason to help put Arkansas in a position to play his former team in the College World Series finals.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, with Arkansas clinging to 3-1 lead against Ole Miss but facing a loaded diamond, Rebel TJ McCants hit what at first appeared to be a harmless fly to left field. Both Bohrofen and Razorback star shortstop Jalen Battles came blazing over. Battles called for it, but Bohrofen called him off, and the two fielders kept hurtling toward each other.

The scene was in some ways similar to the most infamous play in Arkansas baseball history. In the ninth inning of Game 2 of the 2018 College World Series, with Arkansas up by one run and ahead in the series, Oregon State hit a pop fly foul that could have been caught by any one of three Arkansas outfielders.

Cadyn Grenier popped the ball high behind first base and toward the stands, as the Associated Press reported. “There was plenty of room to make the catch, and second baseman Carson Shaddy, first baseman Jared Gates and right fielder Eric Cole converged. No one took charge and the ball hit the ground.”

“I was running and didn’t hear anybody call it, and I overran it,” Shaddy said.

A caught ball would have meant a national championship. Instead, Arkansas ended up losing that game and the next one. Although it’s been four years, that play still haunts almost all true Arkansas baseball fans.

On Wednesday night, however, not one but two Razorbacks were doing everything they could to make sure another hugely important fly ball was caught. This time, Battles veered off at the last second to avoid a full-on collision and Bohrofen made the catch despite sustaining some contact from Battles:

Had Bohrofen not been able to hang onto the ball, it’s less likely Arkansas would have been able to hang on for what was ultimately a 3-2 win. Now, it’s time to finish the job:

Arkansas vs Ole Miss Preview

Chris Lanzilli helped Arkansas advance to the final game before the finals. His three home runs in Omaha are the most by a Razorback ever. He is 7-16 with three bombs and seven DBIs in the College World Series. 

Peyton Stovall finally cooled down a bit Wednesday. After five hits Tuesday, he had an 0-5 game. He is still 21-45 with home runs and 13 RBIs in the tournament. 

Brady Slavens and Cayden Wallace were hitless Monday against the Rebels and each had a pair of hits Wednesday, along with Lanzilli. Slavens launched third home run of the tournament 436 feet dead center. 

Braydon Webb and Michael Turner had the other two hits last night and are the only two with hits in both games against Ole Miss. Turner drove in the winning run in the eighth inning and is batting 9-18 with five RBIs in Omaha. He is batting 20-45 with two home runs and 16 RBIs in the whole tournament. 

Webb is going for the leadoff cycle Thursday. He led off Monday with a triple, a single on Tuesday and a double last night to leadoff the game. He is 15-47 with a home run and six runs knocked in for the tournament, and 7-20 in Omaha. 

Battles, Moore and Gregory went 0-8 Wednesday. It’s not all bad at the bottom of the order, since Battles had two hits against the Rebels Monday and Moore is 5-14 in Omaha. However, Gregory continues to struggle, going 2-15 in Omaha and 4-34 in the whole tournament. 

For the Ole Miss offense, Kemp Alderman had three of the five hits yesterday, making him 5-11 with a home run and three RBIs in Omaha. 

The 2-3-4 batters were 0-11 with five strikeouts in the contest. Gonzalez, Elko and Graham had a rough go Wednesday, but Graham is 5-13 with a home run and three RBIs at the World Series. Elko is just 2-12 with a home run and Gonzalez is 3-14. Elko is batting 11-30 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in the tournament, so it’s not been all bad for the man who once played with an ACL. 

Justin Bench and Calvin Harris both have five hits as well in Omaha, tying Elko and Alderman for the team lead. Bench drove in the second run Wednesday and is 5-15 with three runs knocked in at the World Series. Harris was the hero of the game Monday with three hits including a home run and four RBIs. He is 5-10 overall in Omaha and 10-23 in the whole tournament. 

Chatagnier, Dunhurst and Wood are a combined 2-20 in two games against Arkansas at the College World Series. Dunhurst is 0-9 and still looking for his first hit if the World Series. Chatagnier is 2-12 in Omaha after a good start to the tournament, where he is still 10-31 with two home runs and 10 RBIs overall. Wood did not play much during the regular season and only has 30 at-bats on the year. He is 1-5 in the College World Series. 

Arkansas vs Ole Miss Prediction

Both teams will probably have their aces going Thursday in a sudden death, winner-take-all game with a trip to the College World Series Finals in the line. Neither of them ended the regular season how they wanted, but both have shown up for their team kn the postseason. 

Connor Noland for Arkansas struggled to end the regular season but has been fantastic in three starts in the NCAA Tournament. Over 21.1 innings he has allowed just three runs on 18 hits and five walks with 11 strikeouts and picked up three victories. 

Dylan DeLucia for Ole Miss also ended the regular season in a rough fashion and was not great in the Regionals. However in his last two starts, he has allowed just one run over 13.1 innings on eight hits, two walks and 19 strikeouts. 

It seems likely to be a pitcher’s duel for at least the first five to seven innings. Both teams also pack a talented bullpen to back up their ace. Noland was extremely efficient against Stanford, only needing 67 pitchers to go into the eighth inning, so he may be able to last longer than DeLucia which could be the difference. 

In the two World Series matchups already between these two, the Rebels won a dominant 13-5 game Monday and the Razorbacks won a gritty 3-2 game that came down to the last pitch. 

On Wednesday, there were several moments in the 9th inning where it felt like the Heartbreak Hogs were going to make a return. Especially when there was a small collision between Jace Bohrofen and Jalen Battles in shallow left field as both were tracking a pop-up.

This time, the ball was caught and the Razorbacks pulled out the tough victory and have the momentum on their side going into Thursday. With that momentum, the 3-2 season series advantage and Connor Noland’s recent efficiency, the Razorbacks have the edge on Thursday. It will all be just enough for Arkansas to make it back to the College World Series Finals and right the wrongs of 2018 and the foul pop-up heard round the world. 

Score Prediction: Arkansas wins 4-3

How to Watch Arkansas vs Ole Miss

WHERE: Charles Schwab Field | Omaha (Neb.)

WHEN: 3 PM Thursday

TV/STREAMING: ESPN2 or HERE

RADIO: RSN (92.1 FM in Fayetteville) | TuneIn | Full list of radio affiliates can be found HERE

Arkansas Baseball Batting

PosNameSeason StatsPlayoff Stats (10 gms)CWS Stats
CFBraydon Webb.288 avg 15 hr 42 RBI .977 ops15-47(.319) 1 hr 6 RBI 7-20 2 RBI
1BPeyton Stovall.301 avg 6 hr 31 RBI .814 ops21-45(.467) 2 hr 13 RBI9-21 1 hr 10 RBI
3BCayden Wallace.299 avg 16 hr 60 RBI .946 ops14-44(.318) 5 hr 12 RBI6-20 1 hr 3 RBI
CMichael Turner.324 avg 9 hr 53 RBI .896 ops20-45(.444) 2 hr 16 RBI9-18 5 RBI
RFChris Lanzilli.327 avg 11 hr 40 RBI .944 ops15-41(.366) 4 hr 11 RBI7-16 3 hr 7 RBI
2BRobert Moore.231 avg 8 hr 44 RBI .803 ops8-35(.229) 2 hr 6 RBI5-14 2 RBI
SSJalen Battles.292 avg 10 hr 45 RBI .854 ops12-39(.308) 1 hr 8 RBI4-14 1 RBI
DHBrady Slavens.258 avg 16 hr 58 RBI .866 ops12-43(.279) 3 hr 11 RBI4-16 1 hr 3 RBI
LFZack Gregory.215 avg 5 hr 18 RBI .786 ops4-34(.118) 2 RBI2-15

Ole Miss Baseball Batting

PosNameSeason StatsPlayoff Stats (8 gms)CWS Stats
CFJustin Bench.313 avg 3 hr 40 RBI .838 ops13-38(.342) 6 RBI5-15 3 RBI
SSJacob Gonzalez.274 avg 17 hr 50 RBI .970 ops9-34(.265) 1 hr 5 RBI3-14 1 RBI
1BTim Elko.295 avg 23 hr 74 RBI 1.051 ops11-30(.367) 4 hr 13 RBI2-12 1 hr 3 RBI
LFKevin Graham.335 avg 11 hr 49 RBI .942 ops10-34(.294) 1 hr 8 RBI5-13 1 hr 3 RBI
DHKemp Alderman.292 avg 11 hr 45 RBI .933 ops9-31(.290) 2 hr 9 RBI5-11 1 hr  3 RBI
2BPeyton Chatagnier.247 avg 11 hr 44 RBI .785 ops10-31(.323) 2 hr 10 RBI2-12
CHayden Dunhurst.233 avg 6 hr 29 RBI .776 ops3-27(.111) 2 RBI0-9 1 RBI
3BGarrett Wood.167 avg 0 hr 1 RBI .608 ops3-12(.250) 1 RBI1-5 
RFCalvin Harris.340 avg 2 hr 19 RBI .917 ops10-23(.435) 1 hr 6 RBI5-10 1 hr 4 RBI
CFTJ McCants.235 avg 7 hr 29 RBI .727 ops2-11(.182) 1 hr 2 RBI1-5 1 RBI

Braden Sarver contributed to this article

Zack Morris Just Became the Answer to Arkansas Baseball Fans’ Favorite Trivia Question

Zack Morris

Quick: What’s an Arkansas fan’s favorite lucky charm?

  1. A horseshoe.
  2. A rabbit’s foot. 
  3. A four-leaf clover. 
  4. A Zack Morris.

Morris, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior from Cabot pitched Monday against Ole Miss. He wasn’t good. Morris, who started, recorded just two outs while walking two, giving up two hits, throwing a wild pitch and hitting a batter. To say that Wednesday night was redemption would be something of an understatement.

Morris entered with Arkansas nursing a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, but the Rebels had the bases loaded with nobody out after Evan Taylor gave up a single on the first pitch of the inning and usual closer Brady Tygart plunked back-to-back hitters on consecutive pitches. Van Horn went to Preppy. Ok, so it wasn’t the actual “Saved by the Bell” version of Zack Morris, but by the time Arkansas’ version finished the job, Arkansas fans were smiling as widely as Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s most famous character.

Morris recorded a strikeout and a flyout before an infield single cut Arkansas’ lead to one. But Jacob Gonzalez, one of the handful of players who are considered as a potential No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft of 2023, lined out to left field to end things.

Arkansas’ 3-2 victory set up a win-or-go-home game against the Rebels on Thursday. The Razorbacks will throw their ace, righty Connor Noland, against Ole Miss’, Dylan DeLucia. When the two met on a Friday night during SEC play in April, DeLucia and the Rebels had the upper hand, winning, 4-2.

One More Game to Finals for Arkansas Baseball

But as big as Friday nights are in the best conference in college baseball, they’re nothing compared to a winner-take-all game for the right to play for the national championship at the College World Series. One of the two will get Oklahoma in a best-of-three set on the weekend after the Sooners eliminated Texas A&M earlier in the day Wednesday.

At this point, who would bet against the Razorbacks on being that team? Rhetorical. Don’t answer.

Ole Miss didn’t even get a runner into scoring position until after Tygart’s first beanball. The Rebels’ run to that point came off a Kemp Alderman solo home run in the second. It followed Chris Lanzilli’s solo shot the half-inning before. Brady Slavens went deep in the fifth to give Arkansas the lead and Michael Turner hit a single through the left side to provide the necessary insurance in the eighth.

Morris needed just 15 pitches to record his three outs, meaning he could be available Thursday. In fact, just about everyone except Hagen Smith and Evan Taylor, the two who worked the first eight innings Wednesday, will be set to go. Considering the magnitude of the game, those two could be, as well, though it’s unlikely as coach Dave Van Horn will need arms for a potential series against the Sooners in the College World Series finals.

Noland should get a leash, though not only because of a desire to save arms. The fifth-year senior from Greenwood who earlier in the week became just the fourth player in history to win a College World Series game and a college-football start at quarterback, has been Arkansas’ best and most consistent pitcher all year. A win to put his team in the finals would be a capital achievement for a player who has had to overcome injuries and Chad Morris in his career.

As for the charm, it’s deservedly been the Diamond Hogs’ since the SEC Tournament. The Michael Turner-Derek Ruscin saga seems to have been a catalyst to the Razorbacks’ heat in the NCAA Tournament. A loss to Oklahoma State in the Stillwater Regional was ultimately negligible and the Ole Miss loss from Monday has now been recouped. Other than those Sooners, no team in the last three weeks has played better than the Razorbacks.

Who knows, they may not need the luck come Thursday. They are, on paper, the better team than Ole Miss, having beaten them in three out of five games so far this season and finishing four games higher than the Rebels in the SEC standings. Heck, Ole Miss was the last team chosen for an at-large bid for the postseason.

At this point, it doesn’t matter how it happens. A horseshoe. A rabbit’s foot. A four-leaf clover. Zack Morris. Plain old baseball skill. Arkansas is a game from playing for a national championship.

See our latest on Arkansas vs Ole Miss here:

Will McEntire’s Masterpiece Helps Arkansas Baseball Do Something Harder Than Winning a National Title

Will McEntire

In February, when Arkansas baseball entered the season in the Top 10 in the country in just about every preseason poll, little attention was paid to sophomore right-hander Will McEntire. Even by late April, McEntire was hardly drawing special kudos. The Bryant native was solid but unspectacular in midweek starts against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Arkansas State.

But by the end of the season, Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn had come to lean on McEntire more than any other pitcher on the roster, arguably, other than fifth-year senior Connor Noland.

It was no surprise, then, that Van Horn, facing elimination, handed the ball to the 6-foot-2, 225-pound sophomore on Tuesday night. With Hagen Smith, the Saturday starter for most of the year, largely moved to the bullpen and Jaxon Wiggins, the Sunday starter, pitching the night before out of the pen, McEntire wasn’t just the easy choice. He was the right choice.

Whether you want to call him “Will The Thrill” like Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman did or “Mac Daddy,” the name he’s drawn at various points through the year, either is applicable. All he did against Auburn was strike out six in a row, carry a no-hitter to the fourth inning and ultimately give up just one run on three hits with one walk and nine strikeouts in Arkansas’ 11-1 win. 

In the big picture, the win puts Arkansas just two wins away from making its third College World Series Finals appearance in program history. It also marks the Hogs’ 45th win of the season and a benchmark of excellence that no other college baseball team can match over the last five completed seasons: 

Think about this: Every year, one program walks away with a College World Series title, but not a single other team over the last five full seasons has won at the same consistently high level as Arkansas. The latter is a far more exclusive club than the former. Yes, winning a national title is the most prestigious accomplishment in college baseball but, given the numbers, it’s no stretch to say that winning 45 games for five straight seasons is harder to achieve than winning a single CWS title.

If that isn’t a testament to the constant hard work of Dave Van Horn and his staff, as well as their talented players, nothing is. 

On an individual level, McEntire was superb. His nine strikeouts tied the school record for second-most at the College World Series in history. More importantly, he gave a bulk of the night off for a bullpen that used seven pitchers the night before in a loss to Ole Miss. Now, Van Horn has options against the Rebels for Wednesday’s elimination game.

Just as important was the Arkansas lineup getting back to doing the things it was doing in the Stillwater Regional and Chapel Hill Super Regional. Van Horn swapped usual No. 2 hitter Brady Slavens with usual No. 8 hitter Peyton Stovall and it paid dividends. Stovall went 5 for 6 with a double, three RBIs and two runs. In fact, all of Arkansas’ No. 1 through 6 hitters were on fire as they combined to go 16 or 31 with two walks, five doubles, a home run, 11 RBIs and 10 runs.

Those so-called rental players, catcher Michael Turner and outfielder Chris Lanzilli, were especially good. They combined for six hits, six RBIs and four runs hitting back-to-back from the clean-up spot and the five-hole.

McEntire is no rental. He’s from the same high school as the last true ace to pitch for Arkansas in the College World Series, Blaine Knight. McEntire is a bit thicker and likely won’t be a top-three round pick like the skinny Knight (who, by the way, is in Triple-A ball for Baltimore already). But he could go down in history just as famously. McEntire didn’t give up his first run until the seventh when Bobby Pierce took him deep to left for a solo home run.

But at that point, whatever. Arkansas was ahead by eight runs instead of nine. It was a dominant win that proved the Razorbacks are closer to Ole Miss and Oklahoma, the teams on the other side of the bracket that started 2-0 in Omaha, than to any of the eliminated teams. There’s no reason to think the Diamond Hogs can’t win two games in a row against the Rebels now to make it to the three-game championship series on the weekend.

Arkansas vs Ole Miss Again

After all, Ole Miss took the first game of the three-game regular-season set in Fayetteville before Arkansas won the next two. And the Rebels can’t lean on their star freshman, Hunter Elliott, either after he threw 100 pitches in the teams’ meeting on Monday night. On Wednesday night, they will face John Gaddis and on Thursday likely bat against Dylan DeLucia. DeLucia threw seven innings of two-run ball with nine strikeouts against the Razorbacks in the Rebels’ lone win late April at Baum-Walker Stadium.

Arkansas’ lineup that night looked little like it has lately, though. Cayden Wallace was still batting lead-off. Jace Bohrofen started in right field. Robert Moore was fighting through his slump while hitting from the clean-up spot. None of that is the same. And if you think lineup orders are largely irrelevant, think again. Stovall’s night Tuesday was testament.

Certainly, the Razorbacks will need a bit of magic to make the national championship series. Beating a team as hot as Ole Miss – the Rebels haven’t lost in the NCAA Tournament yet – is no small task. But it’s a guarantee Van Horn will pull out all the stops to try to make it happen. 

“Don’t be surprised if Hagen Smith is the starter” on Wednesday night, Razorback reporter Otis Kirk Tweeted. “He had an outstanding game against Ole Miss on April 30 at Baum-Walker Stadium. The Hogs beat Ole Miss and Elliott, who was Monday night’s starter. Smith pitched six innings that night allowing 7 hits, 2 runs 2 walks 8 Ks.”

McEntire is almost certainly likely to pitch again if the Razorbacks force a loser-goes-home Thursday night in a close one. Noland, too, and perhaps even sooner.

And it’s all because of what McEntire gave Tuesday.

***

Notes: 

  • Arkansas walked ten and hit 2 batters vs Ole Miss on Monday night. On Tuesday night, that went down to, one walk
  • Peyton Stovall was the first player to record five hits in a College World Series game at this new ballpark, which opened in 2011.

“Whenever you get a four-pitch mix like that and you throw them all for strikes, that’s a really good gameplan.” – Michael Turner on McEntire

“We don’t wanna go home. We think we can play five days in a row. We like it.” -Van Horn on facing elimination

Van Horn on Peyton Stovall: “He had unrealistic expectations of him…He just felt a lot of pressure…Boy, he has been really good the last month…We’ve really been able to see the future this last month. It’s been fun.”

https://twitter.com/JacobDavisSEC/status/1539452255447003143

Arkansas vs Ole Miss Preview

In the matchup on Monday, the Rebel offense was led by Justin Bench and Calvin Harris. Bench was 4-6 with two RBIs and scored four times. Harris went 3-4 with a home run and four RBIs. For the NCAA Tournament, Bench is 12-34 with five RBIs and Harris is 10-21 with a home run and six RBIs. 

Jacob Gonzalez and Kevin Graham each collected a pair of hits for the middle of the order in the previous game. Gonzalez is 9-30 with a home run and five RBIs in the tournament while Graham is 10-30 with a home run and eight RBIs. 

For the rest of the preview, go here:

Arkansas vs Ole Miss: Detailing Hogs’ Path to Getting Back to Connor Noland on Thursday

Connor Noland

Two days. Two games. Two wins. It’s really as simple as that.

Arkansas’ path back to the College World Series finals couldn’t be more straightforward. Arkansas simply must beat red-hot Ole Miss on consecutive days starting tonight. That’s won’t be easy, as Arkansas baseball players found out on Monday night in a 13-5 loss.

But the prospect of beating the Rebels becomes a lot more imaginable with Razorback ace Connor Noland pitching from the mound. In case anybody forgot, Noland has been sensational lately, especially in Saturday’s dominant performance against Stanford:

So, you have to feel good about Arkansas’ chances if the Razorbacks can make it to Thursday, when Noland would likely next be available to pitch (although Dave Van Horn did say he would consider him for tonight.) The big issue is if the other guys can keep stepping up, like they did with resounding effect on Tuesday night.

Arkansas’ pitching, after all, was supposed to be its weakness this year. For a bulk of the season, it wasn’t. At least, not on paper. The Razorbacks were second in the SEC in earned-run average and strikeouts and third in the best baseball conference in the land when it came to opponents’ batting average.

Arkansas’ Will McEntire put on an absolute show from the mound in a dominant 11-1 win over Auburn. McEntire allowed just one run on three hits with a career-best nine strikeouts – the second-most by a Razorback in CWS history – over a career-best seven innings to earn the win.

Now, Arkansas turns its attention back to Ole Miss. Can someone else step in the same way Noland and McEntire already have?

As Arkansas sports radio host Josh Bertacinni sees it, Arkansas’ best chances of winning come through one of two Razorback freshman All-Americans. On Tuesday, he said he sees Hagen Smith starting and the whole bullpen getting thrown at the Rebels (they will be fresher than ever after not having to throw much on Tuesday). That’s a lot of pressure, of course, for two talented freshmen, but throughout the season they have certainly shown they are capable of rising to the occasion:

On Tuesday night, Razorback reporter Otis Kirk Tweeted: “Don’t be surprised if Hagen Smith is the starter” on Wednesday night. “He had an outstanding game against Ole Miss on April 30 at Baum-Walker Stadium. The Hogs beat Ole Miss and Elliott, who was Monday night’s starter. Smith pitched six innings that night allowing 7 hits, 2 runs 2 walks 8 Ks.”

Arkansas Baseball vs Auburn Recap

In his eighth start of the season, McEntire was spectacular in shutting down the Tigers’ lineup. The redshirt sophomore pitched with the lead all night after the Hogs quickly scored a run in the top of the first thanks to a leadoff double from Braydon Webb and an RBI single from Peyton Stovall, who also had a historic night.

McEntire used his defense in the bottom of the first to work a 1-2-3 inning when a double play from Jalen Battles erased a one-out walk. McEntire took it from there, striking out the next six Tigers.

Those six strikeouts were part of nine straight retired by the Bryant, Ark., native before Sonny DiChiara singled with two outs in the fourth. McEntire responded, however, by collecting his seventh strikeout of the night to end the inning.

The big righty hung zeroes in the fifth and sixth, allowing only a single before Auburn finally got on the scoreboard with a solo homer from Bobby Pierce to lead off the seventh.

With McEntire cruising, the Razorbacks kicked it into high gear at the plate in the third with three runs to stretch their lead. A two-out walk to Michael Turner extended the inning and put runners on first and second for Chris Lanzilli, who punched a single through the right side to score Stovall from second. Robert Moore’s two-run double found the left field corner to cap the two-out rally in the third.

Stovall, Turner and Lanzilli were in the mix again as part of a four-run fourth as Stovall’s double followed Webb’s one-out single before Turner found some more two-out magic with a two-run double down the right field line. Lanzilli followed all that with his second home run of the CWS, a two-run homer deep into the left field seats.

Stovall impressed with the first five-hit game of his collegiate career. Moving up to the two-hole in Dave Van Horn’s lineup on Tuesday, the freshman produced three singles, a double, three RBI and two runs scored.

His five-hit game made him the 16th player in CWS history to record five-plus hits in a game and the first since North Carolina’s Dustin Ackley vs. Southern Miss in 2009. Stovall’s five hits are the most by a player in the history of Charles Schwab Field and match the most ever by a freshman at the CWS.

Stovall was one of five Hogs to record multi-hit games in the win. Webb, Turner, Lanzilli and Moore all contributed multiple hits to the Hogs’ 16 total base knocks. The offense was clutch all night, going 8-for-18 (.444) with 10 two-out RBI.

 It was simply Will McEntire’s night on Tuesday at Charles Schwab Field as he led Arkansas to an 11-1 win over Auburn in an elimination game at the College World Series.

In his eighth start of the season, McEntire was spectacular in shutting down the Tigers’ lineup. The redshirt sophomore pitched with the lead all night after the Hogs quickly scored a run in the top of the first thanks to a leadoff double from Braydon Webb and an RBI single from Peyton Stovall, who also had a historic night.

McEntire used his defense in the bottom of the first to work a 1-2-3 inning when a double play from Jalen Battles erased a one-out walk. McEntire took it from there, striking out the next six Tigers.

Those six strikeouts were part of nine straight retired by the Bryant, Ark., native before Sonny DiChiara singled with two outs in the fourth. McEntire responded, however, by collecting his seventh strikeout of the night to end the inning.

The big righty hung zeroes in the fifth and sixth, allowing only a single before Auburn finally got on the scoreboard with a solo homer from Bobby Pierce to lead off the seventh. McEntire allowed just one run on three hits with a career-best nine strikeouts – the second-most by a Razorback in CWS history – over a career-best seven innings to earn the win.

With McEntire cruising, the Razorbacks kicked it into high gear at the plate in the third with three runs to stretch their lead. A two-out walk to Michael Turner extended the inning and put runners on first and second for Chris Lanzilli, who punched a single through the right side to score Stovall from second. Robert Moore’s two-run double found the left field corner to cap the two-out rally in the third.

Stovall, Turner and Lanzilli were in the mix again as part of a four-run fourth as Stovall’s double followed Webb’s one-out single before Turner found some more two-out magic with a two-run double down the right field line. Lanzilli followed all that with his second home run of the CWS, a two-run homer deep into the left field seats.

Stovall impressed with the first five-hit game of his collegiate career. Moving up to the two-hole in Dave Van Horn’s lineup on Tuesday, the freshman produced three singles, a double, three RBI and two runs scored.

His five-hit game made him the 16th player in CWS history to record five-plus hits in a game and the first since North Carolina’s Dustin Ackley vs. Southern Miss in 2009. Stovall’s five hits are the most by a player in the history of Charles Schwab Field and match the most ever by a freshman at the CWS.

Stovall was one of five Hogs to record multi-hit games in the win. Webb, Turner, Lanzilli and Moore all contributed multiple hits to the Hogs’ 16 total base knocks. The offense was clutch all night, going 8-for-18 (.444) with 10 two-out RBI.

Arkansas vs Ole Miss is tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPN. (via Razorback Communications):

Despite Ole Miss(Step), Positive Vibes Heading into Arkansas vs Auburn Aren’t Delusional

Arkansas vs Auburn

Omaha, Nebraska – it’ll get ya.

The hole the Arkansas baseball team has to dig out of in the 2022 College World Series is a large one. The Razorbacks fell Monday night to Ole Miss, a team they not only beat two out of three times during the regular season but also a team that was quite literally the last selected as an at-large team for the NCAA Tournament, 13-5.

From the word go, the Diamond Hogs were behind the eight-ball. Ole Miss scored two runs in each of the first three innings then added another four in the fifth showing the biggest bugaboo Arkansas baseball had entering the season was still buzzing in the background.

Arkansas’ pitching was supposed to be its weakness this year. For a bulk of the season, it wasn’t. At least, not on paper. The Razorbacks were second in the SEC in earned-run average and strikeouts and third in the best baseball conference in the land when it came to opponents’ batting average. But on Monday, coach Dave Van Horn had to go seven pitchers, only one of whom managed to work more than 1 2/3 innings. “We just didn’t pitch very well,” Van Horn said afterward. “ You’ve gotta give credit to [Ole Miss pitcher] Hunter Elliott, he did.”

“We were terrific tonight,” Ole Miss baseball coach Mike Bianco added. “Just really played well, and it starts on the mound…Not to take anything away from Arkansas, but he [Elliott] shouldn’t have given up a run today.”

Ouch. The good news for Arkansas is that most of their pitchers should be available on Tuesday night against Auburn in a win-or-go-home game. The bad news is, of course, it’s a win-or-go-home game. The winner of that game would have to beat Ole Miss two times in a row to make the national championship series. Those games would be Wednesday and Thursday (if necessary). That would make four games in four days for the Razorbacks. If they were to beat Auburn at all, that is. By that point, the Arkansas arms would be exhausted, no matter what else happens. 

In reality, it was the first true disappointment the team has had in two weeks. They lost to Oklahoma State in a game in the Stillwater Regional, but that loss didn’t feel as damning as Monday’s. That said, the Cowboys put up 14 runs in that win and the very next night, the Razorbacks bounced back by allowing just three OSU runs in a 7-3 win that clinched a spot in the Super Regionals. 

Still Hope for this College World Series

So, no, glass-half-empty crowd, it isn’t over yet. In that game, Zebulon Vermillion and Hagen Smith finished off the final three innings and held off a late Pokes charge. Both of those arms are almost assured to go Tuesday against the Tigers. 

But it isn’t just the Arkansas staff that needs to play a bit better. The lineup wasn’t terrible against Ole Miss, but it certainly could have been better. The Diamond Hogs scored their five runs on eight hits and two walks. Not exactly the stuff of legend. Arkansas’ No. 2 through 5 hitters went a combined 1-for-14 against the Rebels. Michael Turner, from the 4-hole, had the only knock and it came in the first inning.

They can. Arkansas has a lineup that had 13 hits in every single game against Auburn during the regular season. Rare is the opposition that can hold down Cayden Wallace, Brady Slavens and Chris Lanzilli all at the same time. That crew going cold for two straight games? Practically unheard of. Expect at least one of them to give the Razorbacks a chance on Tuesday.

Still, it has to sting a bit for Arkansas baseball fans. In the modern era of college baseball, only Florida State, North Carolina and Clemson have more College World Series appearances without a title than the Razorbacks. That isn’t to say Arkansas can’t still win one, but the hole is deep. Ole Miss not only scored 13 runs, but they could have had more having left 13 runners on-base. 

Looking Ahead to Arkansas vs Auburn

Arkansas is likely to see Mason Barnett on the bump Tuesday. They rattled him a bit in the first meeting, chasing him after four innings in an 11-8 win. Most of the damage done that day against the Tigers came against relievers Carson Skipper and Konner Copeland. In the regular season Arkansas vs Auburn, the Razorbacks lineup scored nine runs in two innings off those two. Skipper went four innings in the opener against Ole Miss and could give the Tigers a few innings, but Copeland hasn’t pitched yet for the Tigers.

As such, even with Monday’s result, the Diamond Hogs should have positive vibes heading into Tuesday. They haven’t done what’s expected for most of the year, so Tuesday should be no different. A win against Auburn would force a rematch against the Rebels and at that point, who knows what could happen.

Why not?

See our latest on Arkansas vs Auburn here:

Arkansas vs Ole Miss: Rebel Shares Formula For Warding Off Hog Fans’ “Woo Pigs”

Arkansas baseball

For game two of the College World Series, the Hogs have a familiar face lurking in the night. The Ole Miss Rebels (38-22, 14-16) are streaking and have turned their season around to become legitimate title contenders. 

The Rebels have a strong argument for being the hottest team in the nation, going 6-0 in the NCAA Tournament and outscoring their opponents 51-12. Ole Miss has a tournament-best 1.83 ERA going into Monday. 

In a similar situation, Arkansas was faltering at the end of the year and had the fans split. Half were essentially saying it was over and the Razorbacks couldn’t get it done. But the other half were your cup-half-full types, saying “It’s fine, there’s time to turn it around.” 

As the latter was proven right, former Arkansas designated hitter Matt Goodheart told the rest of the Arkansas baseball faithful “I told you so.”

Now Arkansas and Ole Miss are the two of the hottest teams in the tournament and two of the favorites to win it all, both at Charles Schwab Field and in the Rocco’s Jell-O Shot Challenge where Arkansas and Ole Miss were blowing the other six fanbases out of the water before Arkansas baseball fans ran away with the lead late on Sunday night:

As the Hogs have had a similar spark as the Rebels in the NCAA Tournament, going 6-1 so far, the SEC rematch with the Rebels looks to be a hotly contested, intense matchup. This game, which will air at 6 pm Monday on ESPN, has major implications for the national championship and should capture the attention of all college baseball fans. 

Arkansas vs Ole Miss Preview: Batting

The entire Arkansas lineup is feeling good after the record-setting 21-hit performance in the 17-2 victory over 2-seed Stanford. 

The two bats who were struggling in the lineup, junior second baseman Robert Moore and junior left fielder Zack Gregory, each collected a pair of hits Saturday and Moore drew three walks from the Cardinal pitching. 

The hot bats of Arkansas will have to battle the emerging star of freshman left-hander Hunter Elliott. In two starts this tournament, he has allowed one run over 12.1 innings with 18 strikeouts, including a dazzling performance at the Super Regionals with 7.1 innings of shutout baseball and 10 strikeouts. 

The Razorbacks faced Elliott when the teams played at the end of April, scoring three runs in six innings but striking out eight times. The Razorbacks won that game on the walk off three-run home run by freshman designated hitter Kendall Diggs. 

Back in April, senior designated hitter Brady Slavens and senior center fielder fielder Braydon Webb both took Elliott deep.

Ole Miss Baseball Pitcher Learns Lesson

Elliott learned a lesson that has stuck with him since. That lesson was not to tune the crowd out, but instead try to keep the crowd out of it because Arkansas has such a good fan base and they feed off the energy of the crowd. Learning that lesson may have made the difference in his season. 

Since playing Arkansas, he has had four great starts in five outings and one rough start against the Texas A&M Aggies. In those four great starts, he’s given up three runs over 26 innings and in the one rough start he allowed four runs in four innings. 

“I would say rather than trying to tune it out where they don’t do it as much would be better,” Elliott said. “If you don’t allow them, they won’t do it as much. I figured that out. The less home runs you give up, the less runs, the less ‘woo pigs’… They can take advantage of mistakes like they did all weekend. They can swing it, good approach, but [they are] pitchable.”

As for that regular season Arkansas vs Ole Miss series, Arkansas took two of three after dropping game one. The decisive game three came down to the final out, as the Rebels’ best hitter, senior first baseman Tim Elko, left the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth. 

This time around, it is win to advance. The winners bracket provides a much easier path to the finals with the loser of Monday night’s contest needing to win three days in a row to survive. 

Elko enters the game with a .301 average, 22 home runs and 71 RBIs with a 1.060 ops.  He ended the season on an 0-11 four-game skid but has quickly turned it around. Elko is 10-22 (.455) in the tournament, including a three-homer performance in the last game of the Miami Regional.

The other big bat in the Ole Miss lineup is sophomore shortstop Jacob Gonzalez. He has a .277 average with 17 long balls and 49 runs driven in and a .992 ops. He is 7-24 (.292) with a home run and four RBIs over the six playoff games. 

Hitting in the cleanup spot is senior left fielder Kevin Graham. He leads the team with a .339 average to go with 11 round-trippers and 47 RBIs. He is 8-26 (.308) in the tournament with a home run and six runs batted in and coming off a three-hit game including a dinger. Since the Arkansas series, he is batting .431 with five home runs and 19 RBIs over 17 games. 

How to Watch Arkansas vs Ole Miss

WHEN: Monday, June 20th at 6:00 p.m. (CDT)

WHERE: Charles Schwab Field | Omaha

TV/STREAMING: ESPN or HERE

RADIO: RSN (92.1 FM in Fayetteville) | TuneIn | All radio affiliates are here HERE

Arkansas vs Ole Miss Notes

  • Arkansas has belted at least 100 home runs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history.
  • Through 62 games this year, the Hogs have totaled 100 round-trippers, led by Brady Slavens (15 homers), Cayden Wallace (15 homers) and Braydon Webb (15 homers).

No wonder Razorback radio play-by-play man Phil Elson is so keen to show off what he’ll be wiping his feet off on during the broadcast tonight:

Arkansas vs Ole Miss Baseball Prediction

Arkansas and Ole Miss is going to be an intense game between division rivals. It’s one of the best rivalries in college baseball and now it is in Omaha. The intensity will be further ramped up with these teams having two of the biggest and rowdiest fan bases that will pack the house more than the other teams combined and certainly turn Charles Scwab Field into a madhouse. 

“What I remember most is just their fan base,” said Rebel Peyton Chatagnier when looking back at the series in Fayetteville earlier this year “Their fan base is really (good). They get loud, they get rowdy and makes the atmosphere really fun. I think our fan base is going to be at this game just as much as theirs. So I think it’s going to be a really loud and rowdy, intense, fun game.” 

Baseball is a game where anything can happen and almost nothing is certain, but there are a few certainties in this matchup. The game will certainly be loud and the house will certainly be packed. 

The Hogs have experience with the starting pitcher and had relative success against him already. The Razorbacks will throw junior left-hander Zack Morris. He enters Monday with a 6-0 record and 1.89 ERA. He started the decisive game of the Stillwater Regional and went 3.1 scoreless innings. He has not allowed a run in four of his past five outings, pitching 9.1 innings in those appearances.

Morris and Elliott will probably face off in a riveting pitcher’s duel fueled with animosity and fire with the stakes being so high. The first few innings will likely not see many runs.

The Hogs have been feasting on the bullpens after big-name starters get taken out. They scored 16 runs in the last five innings Saturday and scored 15 runs in the last three innings Saturday of the Stillwater Regional after projected first rounder Justin Campbell was taken out. 

Razorbacks will pull away late and punch their ticket to the semifinals. The back end of the Arkansas bullpen is really strong, especially with freshman lefty Hagen Smith clicking as a closer and freshman righty Brady Tygart always there to close out a game, like he did when Arkansas faced Elliott in April. 

Score prediction: Arkansas wins 8-3

***

Now, I invite you to glory in the most intense, borderline spiritual Hog call of the year:

Then learn more about Ole Miss and Arkansas fans likely spending more than $25,000 on Jell-O shots:

See our latest on Arkansas baseball here: