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)