A lightning strike within eight miles of Baum-Walker Stadium Sunday at 3:06 p.m.  forced a delay in the Arkansas-TCU winner’s bracket game at the NCAA Tournament Fayetteville Regional.

It seemed appropriate as the Horned Frogs had already brought the thunder to the Razorbacks and would continue to do after a 59-minute stoppage in action.

TCU ’s Tre Richardson hit three home runs – a pair of  grand slams  in the first two innings – and had a an NCAA Regional tying 11 RBIs as his team manhandled Arkansas 20- 5 before a season-high crowd of 11,121 fans.

It was the most runs given up by the Razorbacks in the 21-year Dave Van Horn era and the most ever in Arkansas baseball postseason history.

“Like our players said, baseball is a weird game,” noted TCU head coach Kirk Saarloos, whose team beat Arkansas 18-6 earlier this season. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it. There really isn’t. 

“What we have been able to do is have two really good games (against Arkansas). We have had some poor games against other opponents. If I could figure it out, we would have good games against  everybody, but it’s a weird game and you never know what you are going to see.”

TCU pitcher Sam Stoutenborough went six innings while allowing four runs on six hits, fanning five and not walking anyone.

“Sam did a really good job in terms of dealing with the delays and coming back out and doing what he did,” Saarloos said. “Tre had a pretty good game, too. So we haven’t done anything yet. There’s still baseball to be played.”

The win means the Horned Frogs (38-23), who jumped out to 6-0, 11-1 and 14-1 leads in their first three at bats, need just one more victory  to advance to the Super Regional.

The Razorbacks (42-17) must now win three in a row, beginning with Sunday night’s 8 p.m. game with Santa Clara and then would have to beat TCU twice on Monday to advance.

Richardson – who had only hit 2 home runs this season coming into the game – was 5 of 6 and Elijah Nunez 4 of 5 as they combined for  nine of TCU’s 21 hits.

“The approach, I didn’t change anything that I did all season,” Richardson said. “Today I was able to get three (home runs) out and that was a pretty good feeling.

“But for the most part, I just went out there to take good at bats and win every pitch.”

Brayden Taylor added a trio of hits and is now 7 of 10 with 10 RBIs in his team’s wins over Arkansas and Arizona (12-4).

The Horned Frogs jumped all over Razorback starter and first-team All-SEC Hagen Smith, who entered the game 8-1 and with a 2.69 ERA.

Richardson’s first grand slam put TCU up 4-0 in the top off the first inning and ninth-place hitter Austin Davis’ two-out, two-run single   made it 6-0.

Smith, who gave up four hits, walked a batter and hit one in the first inning, only escaped when Davis was thrown out trying to steal second.

Arkansas’ Tavian Josenberger hit a solo home run leading off the bottom of the first – one of his two blasts on the day –  to cut it 6-1.

But TCU came out mashing against Smith again in the second as Nunez and Kason Bowen both singled to chase the Arkansas starter.

Zack Morris relieved and gave up Taylor’s RBI single and a walk before Richardson hit his second opposite field grand slam to make it 11-1.

Smith would end up being accountable for 8 runs on 6 hits with two walks and one strikeout.

Morris gave up three runs on two hits in his one inning of work.

Austin Ledbetter entered the game in third and Taylor took him deep for a three-run shot that surged TCU up 14-1.

Ledbetter would go on to pitch six innings while allowing six runs on nine hits, fanning four and walking  no one.

Ben Bybee then pitched the ninth and allowed three runs on four hits, including Richardson’s RBI single that gave gave him his 11th RBI.

Josenberger and reserve catcher Hudson Polk had two hits each of Arkansas’ 10 in the game.

Jace Bohrofen and Caleb Cali also homered for Arkansas.

Photo by John D. James