When Arkansas head baseball coach Dave Van Horn saw the four teams heading for the NCAA Baseball Tournament Fayetteville Regional, he knew one of them was a force with which to be reckoned.

That was second-seeded TCU (40-22), who ending up bullying its way through the event by scoring 44 runs in just three games.

That carnage included the Horned Frogs bashing the SEC co-champion and top-seeded Razorbacks 20-5 on Sunday afternoon and 12-4 on Monday afternoon in a game that ended the season for Arkansas (43-18).

TCU struggled in the midseason and was 23-20 at one point, but has now won nine straight, 15 of its last 16 games and moves on to host Indiana State in a Super Regional.

“The first thing, I want to congratulate TCU,” Van Horn said. “They were a wrecking crew, man. They were really good this weekend.

“We knew when we saw they were coming to us what we were getting into from everything we had heard. It was true, they’re really hot and they’re really tough to beat, and we’d already seen them obviously. “But whatever was going on in the middle of the season, they fixed it. They’re awfully good.”

Arkansas took a 4-2 lead in the fifth inning on back-to-back homers by Jace Bohrofen and Jared Wegner, but that advantage didn’t long.

TCU cut it to 4-3 in the fifth on Regional MVP Tre Richardson’s run-scoring ground out.

Austin Davis’ two-run homer off Arkansas reliever Zack Morris (1-4) in the sixth gave the Horned Frogs a 5-4 lead as they scored 10 unanswered runs after falling behind to finish out the game.

“It looked like we had a chance to build on that lead a little bit, and then bang, they punched in a run, we don’t score, and the next inning they score three more and all of a sudden we’re losing,” Van Horn said. Then we didn’t stop them. Honestly, we ran out of pitching.

Arkansas would have had to beat TCU twice on Monday to keep hopes alive of a return trip to the College World Series and a fourth trip in six seasons.

“If we would have won the game, I don’t know who we would have thrown or how we’d have gone about it,” Van Horn said.

Arkansas jumped to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Ben McLaughlin’s sacrifice fly after the Razorbacks loaded the bases with nobody out.

It was the first lead for Arkansas in the three games between the two teams this season – a trio in which TCU outscored the Razorbacks by a whopping 50-15.

But Arkansas would only get that one run in the first against TCU starter Cam Brown, who hit Tavian Josenberger and walked Bohrofen and Wegner to open the game.

Brown settled down was no-hitting the Razorbacks until the two fifth-inning home runs in a game where Arkansas only had three hits total.

“Cam Brown gave us that inning to get him, we only scored one,” Van Horn said. “It wasn’t deflating because we had the next inning against him. We didn’t know he was going to come out and kind of turn it around, which he did.

“But it was just… It was a good inning. We saw a lot of pitches. We didn’t get a hit, but we saw a lot of pitches, we made him work and then he recovered.

“So then you kind of go, ‘Wow. Shoulda scored more runs.’ We already knew that. But we figured we were going to have to score 8-10 runs today to win.”

Cody Adcock was Arkansas’ starting pitcher on Monday, but only got one out in the second inning and was replaced by Hagen Smith.

Smith gave up a two-run single to Davis that put TCU up 2-1, but then would pitch 3 1/3 innings while allowing one run on three hits and throwing 67 pitches.

It was just a day after Smith started and was shelled by TCU while giving up 8 runs on 6 hits.

“Yesterday, it was obviously horrible,” Smith said. “Everyone saw. So, it was good to come back and try to help the team win. Didn’t come out the way we wanted to, but I gave it my all.”

Smith was anxious to put Sunday’s effort behind him.

“I was ready as soon as I got pulled,” Smith said. “Just go out there and try to compete. I felt like I lost the game for us yesterday, so I wanted to go back out.”

Van Horn was appreciative of Smith bouncing back.

“We figured he’d give us 60-70 pitches today because once he said he felt good and he did feel good — and he’s going to tell us the truth — that’d be about where it’d stop,” Van Horn said. “ If he hadn’t thrown yesterday and he started today, we would have went 100. So it was about right.”

Well, I don’t like to use the term ‘overachievers’ or any of that because I think they’re good players,  but this is a team — and I’ve said it many times — they show up and they think they’re going to win,” Van Horn said. “They showed up and played hard for us all the time.

“I really can’t remember having to really talk to the team about what we’re seeing isn’t a good enough effort, you’re not playing hard. Never really saw that from this team. Just find a way to win.

“They would find a way to win and they were fun to be around, honestly. And I’ll talk to them about that in our meeting when we finish up in a day and a half or so.

“But I think what they’re going to be remember for is they won the SEC championship and they won 43 games and they had what, like one guy on the All-SEC team? That’s very rare. You win the SEC championship, you look at Florida, what’d they have? Five? A couple second-teamers?

“I mean, it was something else. So it was just a bunch of guys that played as a team and they won a championship. I hope they get celebrated in 10 years and they come back and I bet they’re all doing something pretty good.”

Photo by John D. James