Neb. – There was a common theme when questions were lobbed at Arkansas coach
Dave Van Horn Monday night right after a tough-as-nails showdown with South Carolina at the College World Series.
as much as he could, the Razorbacks’ 10th-year coach tried to come
up with an answer that worked after Arkansas edged the Gamecocks 2-1.
Stanek and Barrett Astin teamed up to limit South Carolina to four hits – none to
lead off an inning – and the Hogs manufactured a pair of runs with two-out
singles from Dominic Ficociello and Matt Vinson to scrounge up just enough
|Strange feeling: South Carolina had to come to grips with its first NCAA Tournament loss in 23 games|
victory ended South Carolina’s 22-game NCAA winning streak and a 12-game CWS
streak dating back to the second game of the 2010 series.
Razorbacks, meanwhile, are in uncharted territory under Van Horn.
winning the first two games at the CWS for the first time since 1979, the Hogs reached
a new level of success for a program that has experienced plenty of good times
since Van Horn went back home to coach his alma mater.
to Monday’s nailbiter, Arkansas (46-20) is in charge of Bracket II and needs
just one more to claim a spot in the best-of-three championship series. In Van
Horn’s two previous trips to Omaha with the Razorbacks, and two before that with
Nebraska, his teams were 2-8 – both wins coming in 2009.
Van Horn and the Hogs have two full days to savor their status as a frontrunner
until they return to action against the winner of Wednesday’s Kent State-South
Carolina elimination game.
“That’s what you shoot for,” Van Horn said. “When
you look at the bracket on the way up here, you know that if you win Game 1,
that’s a major plus.
“Being 2-0 gives you a chance to rest a little
bit and use less pitching while they’re using pitching.”
Arkansas can keep getting the kind of pitching that Stanek and Astin provided
Monday on the heels of DJ Baxendale and Brandon Moore in the first game of the
CWS, it’s going to be tricky for any of the remaining five teams to knock off
is only the third team since 1976 to limit its first two foes to one or no
runs, joining Pepperdine (1992) and Texas (2005).
|Barrett Astin logged three almost perfect innings to notch his 11th save|
bounced back from an abbreviated outing vs. Baylor in the Super Regional to
grind out six innings on the way to his eighth victory. And Astin was almost
perfect in three innings for his 11th save.
Gamecocks (46-18) got runners into scoring position in four of the six frames Stanek
threw, but almost every time he seemed to be getting wobbly, he found an escape
began in the first inning as Carolina threatened when Evan Marzilli roped a
single to center field with one out and Christian Walker drew a walk. Stanek
put the fire out when he retired LB Dantzler on a groundout to first and Adam Matthews on a comebacker.
two outs established a trend as six different Gamecocks missed on chances to
chase in a runner in scoring position and they were 1-for-10 with runners in
scoring position as a team.
only breakthrough came in the fifth inning when Chase Vergason walked to start
the frame, moved to second on Dante Rosenberg’s bunt and dashed home when
Marzilli burned Vinson in center field for a triple.
only ran into trouble once in his three-inning save. Dantzler doubled with one
out in the eighth and was left standing when Matthews tapped out to second
and Astin were very, very good,” Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said. “I thought
our hitters battled hard up there, but their stuff was special.”
Marzilli, “Yeah their stuff was on. We just couldn’t capitalize in those
did find a way twice on a night when the Hogs managed only six hits. A big
difference was that the Razorbacks got their leadoff batter on base in five of
the first seven innings.
|Evan Marzilli reacts after his triple scored USC's only run of the night|
Carver opened the game by ramming a single to right field off Carolina starter
Colby Holmes and Jacob Mahan laid down the first of four Arkansas sacrifice
bunts in the game. Matt Reynolds couldn’t get Carver home, but he drove a
ground ball to the right side to move him to third base.
worked carefully to Ficociello and fell behind 3-and-0 and the Hogs first
baseman ripped the next pitch to left-center field to plate Carver.
the fourth inning, Brian Anderson worked Holmes for a leadoff walk and broke
for second base with Bigham at the plate. When Rosenberg threw down to second
base, he and Bigham got tangled up and the Arkansas batter was called for
interference for the first out of the inning.
Joe Serrano flew out to right field, Bigham stole second base, and that turned
out to be huge when Vinson punched a base hit to right field to send Anderson
scampering home for a 2-0 lead.
enough offense,” Van Horn said. “I thought we did a nice job early in the game
working some counts. Laid down two or three nice sacrifice bunts. Got a couple of
hits, drove in some runs and we held on. That’s just kind of the way we’ve been
a two-run cushion to work with, Stanek got more aggressive early in counts and forced
the Gamecocks to take swings earlier than they might’ve wanted.
stayed around the strike zone for the most part, going to a three-ball count on
only three of the 25 batters he faced – all walks.
|Jake Wise welcomes Brian Anderson home on Matt Vinson's 2-out single in the fourth inning|
always big when score runs early,” Stanek said. “We know we’re working with a
cushion and we can relax and throw our game and attack the strike zone.”
Hogs’ defense was nearly flawless with the biggest play coming to end the
smacked a double with one out before Stanek got Connor Bright on a hot shot to
Ficociello at first base. With Matthews at third base, speedy Tanner English
tried to drag-bunt for a hit, but Ficociello pounced on the ball, scooped it up
and swept a tag to get English.
get a run there probably with anybody at first base except Ficociello,” Tanner
said. “He’s great over there. It wasn’t quite inside enough for (English) to
get past it.
just didn’t get enough opportunities to push the envelope a little bit or
hit-and-run because they were pitching so well.”
got plenty of pitching as well.
was solid, surrendering only four hits and the two runs into the fourth inning.
Left-hander Tyler Webb went the rest of the way, limiting the Hogs to a pair of
hits over the last 5.1 innings,
Gamecocks will try to get a rematch with Arkansas when they face Kent State on
Wednesday. The Golden Flashes (47-19) stunned Florida 5-4 earlier Monday to
stay alive and send the top-seeded Gators home.
“They’re very good,” Tanner said of Kent
State. “There are only six teams left, so everybody’s pretty good. You just
hope you can have a good game.”
if you’re Arkansas and Van Horn, you finally get to figure out what to do from
an enviable position that’s new to them.
have a chance to put together a strategy, rest up some guys and go from there”
Van Horn said.
VIDEO: Tanner discusses loss
Big-league pitching, big-league defense
GAME 7: Kent State 5, Florida 4