The Razorbacks lost 13-4 to Arizona State Sunday night in the championship round of the NCAA Tempe Regional, falling to the same program and on the same field where Arkansas lost a pair of extra-inning classics in the NCAA super regional round a year ago.
The Razorbacks (40-22) looked the part of a team fatigued this time around, however. The game was Arkansas' third in 30 hours as temperatures exceeded 100 degrees in the Phoenix metroplex for the second consecutive day.
Arkansas beat Charlotte 11-3 earlier Sunday to advance to play the host school. Ryne Stanek threw a complete game against the 49ers, allowing just three runs on six hits to save the bullpen for the impending games against the Sun Devils.
The Razorbacks would have had to beat Arizona State Sunday and again Monday to advance to a super regional round for the third consecutive season.
"I told the team I was proud of them. If you would have told me we were going to win 40 games last fall with all these young guys, I'd probably have chuckled a little bit. Somehow we did it, winning 40 ballgames playing a pretty tough schedule and in a good league."
The Sun Devils (42-16) advanced to the NCAA super regionals with the win, awaiting the winner of a game Monday night between Texas and Kent State. Arizona State improved to 5-0 against the Razorbacks at Packard Stadium.
"This process and this journey is not an easy one," Arizona State coach Tim Esmay said. "We're embracing it and looking forward to an opportunity to play again next week.
"That's a very good Arkansas team that we've seen more than we want to in the last couple of years. That's a good program that is well-coached."
Arkansas' freshman right-hander in the nightcap wasn't as fortunate as Stanek. Barrett Astin lasted just three innings against the Sun Devils, allowing three runs on six hits.
Johnny Ruettiger led off the first inning with a triple, but it appeared Astin might work out of the jam until Joey DeMichele's two-run home run with two strikes and two outs in the frame.
It was DeMichele's second home run of the regional. The Arizona State designated hitter, who was named the regional's most valuable player, hit a game-winning three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Sun Devils a comeback win over New Mexico in the first round.
Arizona State extended its lead to 3-o in the top of the second inning on a two-out RBI double by Andrew Aplin to score Zack MacPhee.
Arkansas had a chance to get back into the game in the bottom of the third, but James McCann flied out to strand the bases loaded. After recording 13 hits – many of which came with two outs – in the first game of the day, the Razorbacks stranded eight runners in the nightcap.
Arizona State starting pitcher Mitchell Lambson was responsible for a lot of Arkansas' trouble at the plate, striking out nine batters in 6 1/3 innings.
The left-hander, who pitched five scoreless innings against the Razorbacks in the first game of the super regional last season, gave up four runs this time around.
"We kind of knew we'd struggle against that left-hander," Van Horn said. "He held us down last year in that first game and the only difference was it seemed like he threw his fastball a lot more tonight."
Arizona State blew the game open by scoring seven runs in the top of the sixth inning off Arkansas relievers Trent Daniel and Colby Suggs to build a 10-0 lead. The Sun Devils added three more runs in the top of the seventh inning before the Razorbacks added three of their own in the bottom of the frame.
James McCann, likely playing his last game for Arkansas because of the MLB Draft, finished the night 2-for-5 at the plate with two of the team's RBIs.