Former Oregon State Baseball Star Likened Arkansas to Pac-12 Laughingstock

Blaine Knight, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs Oregon State
photo credit: Baumology

“History is written by the victors,” Winston Churchill once said.

Certainly, the victors are the ones who tend to control the narrative.

That’s what we see has played out, in book form at least, since Arkansas’ agonizing loss to the Oregon State baseball program in the 2018 College World Series. The lasting image from that series, of course, comes from the ninth inning of Game 2 and entails Arkansas second baseman Carson Shaddy, first baseman Jared Gates and right fielder Eric Cole converging around a fly ball that nobody ended up catching.

The mistake proved to be the turning point in the series, powering the Beavers to their third national championship of the 21st century. Arkansas, which beat the Beavers on Friday night 5-4 behind an all-time performance by its flame-throwing ace Hagen Smith, is still searching for that first national title which a caught foul ball in 2018 would have clinched.

A certain particularly masochistic contingent of Arkansas baseball fans write off that season six years ago as being a case of “Hogs are gonna Hog,” and it appears a few on the Oregon State side would readily agree.

Recalling Arkansas vs Oregon State in 2018

In “Finish: An Oral History of Oregon State University’s 2017 and 2018 Baseball Teams,” a couple of former Oregon State baseball players said they felt like Arkansas was essentially toast before the third game even began in Omaha, Neb.

“If you walked through the hotels, there are fans leaving the night before because they thought they would beat us, two-and-done,” former Beavers pitcher Christian Chamberlain said in “Finish.” “I think even the players, like you watch that drop ball and it looked like they gave up.”

Jack Anderson, who’d risen to All-Pac-12 status in 2017 after starting his career as a walk-on, added: “Once we saw that there weren’t as many fans in the stands, it switched the roles where we were in control of the stadium at that point. I think that wore on them too, going from a packed house to nobody there.”

Jared Gates, however, would likely take exception to recounting. He told HawgBeat’s Mason Choate and Robert Stewart that he had full faith Hogs pitcher Matt Cronin would seal the deal.

“Right after that ball dropped, it was like, ‘Alright man, Matt’s about to go strike this dude out, no problem.'”

“And then a ground ball through the sixth hole. And then when that ball was hit, it’s like, “Oh, [Jax] Bigger’s going to get that, bro. He gets everything, no problem.’ Ball gets through. Dang, tie game,” Gates said on Friday’s Diamond Hogs podcast. “But it’s also, dude, we got 9, 1, 2 coming up next inning. We’re good. And then even after the two-run homer, alright, it’s going to be a little tougher, but we could still win this game right now.”

Gates continued: “I feel like the whole team would say that to you right now. And then even after that, dude, it’s like, all right, what do we have now? Game three. And I swear, we were all juiced up for game three. It was a normal day, dude. We were ready to win.”

Washington State Cougars Pac 12 Alert

As you can imagine, Gates gets asked about that series and the infamous play a lot. First off, he wants people to know that he doesn’t “hate” Oregon State*. “I just hate how freaking good they were, and I just hate that they were able to fire on all cylinders,” he said.

Gates added he makes a point to feel positive about the bigger picture (that was a great Razorback team, after all) instead of letting the snafu haunt him.

A lot of fans share his mindset, but a few of them seek to blow the missed catch up to something representative of the Arkansas Razorbacks as a whole.

“It’s just funny when I see Hog fans are more mad about it than me nowadays,” he told Choate and Stewart. “Just calm down, dude. Chill out. No matter how much you tweet or say, “the Hogs are gonna Hog,” “It’s not going to change anything.”

The idea that the “Hogs are gonna Hog” isn’t a particularly unique one, it turns out. There’s at least one program in the Pac 12 (or what’s about to be the ‘Pac 2’) with a similar reputation.

Jack Anderson, the former Oregon State baseball star, throws shade their way in his oral history book recounting: “I didn’t know that until before the third game that this is typical Arkansas.” 

In another part he refers to learning about the “Arkansas Razorback history of doing this kind of stuff,” which we can infer involves mostly football examples such as Bill Montgomery’s interception at the end of the ‘69 Game of the Century, the Stoernover and Reggie Fish’s muffed punt.

Anderson then said that a reputation of not being able to get over the hump links Arkansas to one of the historically worst programs in the Pac-12, Washington State: “Someone said it’s like the Washington State mindset of ‘couging it,” that’s what Arkansas is known for in the SEC.”

“Cougin’ it,” to the uninitiated, refers to the Washington State Cougars football program’s tendency to “lose games via late-game collapses, odds-defying losses, ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory’, and otherwise choking,” as the hive mind at Wikipedia so amiably puts it.

The Arkansas football program hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in the SEC, especially in the last 10 years, but historically it is much better than the Cougars – which have won exactly 50% of their games all-time, have played in 18 bowl games ever and have four conference titles since 1917.

By contrast, Arkansas has an all-time winning percentage of 57.6%, has played in 44 bowl games all-time and had won 13 conference titles before joining the SEC in the early 1990s.

So, despite the shared agricultural heritage of both northwest Arkansas and eastern Washington, this isn’t quite an apple to apple comparison.


*Jared Gates, while not hating Oregon State, certainly isn’t a fan.

“I can’t say I’ve ever put on the Oregon State game and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, I hope Oregon State wins that game.’ That’s never happened. Probably never will. Unless they’re playing Ole Miss or something, I’m just like, ‘Can both teams just lose somehow?’ That would be nice.”


On Friday night, Hagen Smith did everything in his power to make sure the Hogs didn’t lose the latest Arkansas vs Oregon State. Here’s video of the resulting masterpiece in which he tied the all-time single-game strikeout record for Arkansas baseball:

Read our post-game piece here:

Dave Van Horn on Arkansas vs Oregon State

“They had a great team that year,” Van Horn said on Thursday, referring to the 2018 Beavers. “I think they had three first-rounders or three guys that were in the big leagues really, really quick in that lineup. We probably played about as good as we could to get to Omaha in ’18 and fought through that other division,” the Arkansas baseball coach continued.

“We really didn’t do much against them. We just kinda won the first game, they gave us an inning, made some errors. We did it really in Game 2, as well. We couldn’t hold the lead. We had to use a lot of our pitchers the day before. Obviously we wish we woulda won the game, won the series, but we didn’t.”

Check out the interview with former Arkansas baseball player Jared Gates starting at 28:50 below:

YouTube video



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