BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Just a little while before midnight on Sunday night, Arkansas head baseball coach Dave Horn met with the media and pondered what Monday might be like.
After being hammered by TCU 20-5 on Sunday afternoon, his Razorbacks staved off elimination in the Fayetteville Regional by downing Santa Clara 6-4 on Sunday.
That result kept the season alive for Arkansas (42-17) for at least one more day with it needing to down TCU (38-23) Monday at 2 p.m. to force a winner-take-all game at 8 p.m.
“We’re just gonna, that first game we’ll just do whatever we’ve got to do to win it,” Van Horn said. “If we survive it, you never know when you get down to one game.
“Anything can happen. I’ve been a part of some crazy days. It’s going to take a crazy day for us to win two tomorrow.”
Van Horn knows his team faces a big challenge against a TCU team that has outscored Arkansas 38-11 in two games this season.
“Well, I’m glad we get to play another day,” Van Horn said. “You play this game, anything can happen. So, I think that if we knew we had somebody just waiting to pitch, it might make it a little bit easier.
“But we’re going to have to have somebody really step it up for us, and we’ve got to score. We’ve got to score. But I’m glad we’re playing.”
Arkansas has used eight pitchers in the tournament so far to cover 27 innings.
Hunter Hollan and Hagen Smith both had abbreviated starts of less than 50 pitches in the Razorbacks’ first two games while Will McEntire has thrown 138 pitches in games one and three.|
Zack Morris only pitched an inning in the first game on Sunday while Brady Tygart, Cody Adcock, Austin Ledbetter and Ben Bybee have also had stints on the mound.
“It’s not good,” Van Horn said of his pitching situation. “I mean, I don’t even know who we’re going to pitch. Normally, I do, and I just don’t tell you. I don’t know this time for sure. I don’t know who we’re going to pitch.”
Tygart (3-1) started for Arkansas against Santa Clara Sunday night and threw 99 pitches in 5 2/3 innings before McEntire entered and threw 57 over 2 2/3.
They combined to fan 11 and allow just five hits in a game where Arkansas had just six hits, but two left the park.
“Tygart won’t be available,” Van Horn said. “I’m not throwing him tomorrow. So, other than that, I don’t think I’d throw Will. He’d have to talk us into it.”
Hollan entered in the ninth and threw eight pitches, inducing a double play on the last one to finish off Sunday night’s game and get a save.
“We’ll just have to talk to them in the morning,” Van Horn said. “You know, there’s probably a couple guys who threw today, or one that threw today that could start.”
That would seem to indicate Morris might get the starting nod in the first game as Van Horn indicated he isn’t likely to start Hollan or Smith in the first game.
“Yeah, because he (Hollan) is a guy that if he didn’t pitch to finish that game up (Sunday night) that we were thinking we might be able to start tomorrow if we needed to,” Van Horn said.
“Those two guys (Hollan and Smith) could probably throw a little bit. I don’t feel like I’m going to start either one of them. At least not the first game.”
Freshmen Gage Wood and Christian Foutch have not pitched yet.
“…Then, you get into maybe some younger guys,” Van Horn said. “It would be tough throwing them out there in this situation…(But) I’ve got to pitch somebody.”
Santa Clara head coach Rusty Filter’s Broncos (36-20) got down 2-0 in the top of the first on Tavian Josneberger’s walk, Jace Bohrofen’s RBI double and Ben McLaughlin’s sacrifice fly.
Jared Wegner’s third-inning homer and Parker Rowland’s fourth-inning RBI single off Santa Clara stater Brandon Gomez (6-4) pushed Arkansas’ advantage to 4-0.
The Broncos, who eliminated Arizona on Saturday night, cut it to 4-3 in the sixth on Eamonn Lance’s two-run double that was Tygart’s last pitch and then a run-scoring error.
Kendall Diggs’ two-run homer off Santa Clara reliever Skylar Hales in the eighth gave Arkansas a 6-3 cushion before Thomas Ferroggiargo’s ninth-inning RBI single cut it to 6-4.
Hollan ended the game at that point by getting Ben Steck to hit into a double play that ended the run for head coach Rusty Filter’s squad.
“We came in here and had high expectations and obviously disappointed in the outcome, but very pleased with how my team played,” Filter said. “I think it is true character and grit if you can score late on anybody in any situation and we have been able to do that that in all these games.
“I think we were trying to project what we might see out of them and did not except to see some of those guys do what they did today. Hat’s off to Arkansas. A very well-played game and we are looking forward to growing from this opportunity and seeing what the future holds.”
Santa Clara outfielder Michael O’Hara was impressed with Tygart.
“He was just attacking the zone,” O’Hara said. “His fast ball was good, attacked with it, wasn’t afraid to use it and mixed it on with stuff really well. We were just trying to make an adjustment as we go, but he was able to execute his game plan. We were trying to make adjustments. I thought we hit the ball pretty solid many times, but just at guys. That’s just how it goes sometimes in baseball.”
Fellow Bronco Dawson Brigham lauded McEntire.
“A lot of what happens is he just came at you attaching the zone,” Brigham said. “He was making competitive pitches and a lot of times they were pitchers pitches that were just tough to hit. I think it just came down to hitting winning spots and it mostly went their way today.”
O’Hara noted that Baum Walker lived up to his expectations.
“It was the experience of a lifetime no doubt,” O’Hara said. “The fans here were amazing. No denying that. They kept me busy in right field with kids asking for balls, guys just chatting me up and having a good time.
“:I think all the boys just had an amazing experience, like the guys in the bullpen. Most of the time it was nice, sometimes not so much, but you’re honestly coming down here expecting more that.
“But it was an awesome experience and one this program can take in the back pocket and kind of spread to the guys that we have coming in and when we are here next year, it is not going to be any surprise. We are going to be ready from the jump.”
Photo by John D. James