Diamond Hogs find a way
WACO, Texas - Call it luck, magic or skill, but Arkansas has the knack for late-inning dramatics when it comes to the NCAA postseason.
The Razorbacks' latest fireworks came in the ninth inning Sunday, scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat Baylor 5-4 and force a winner-take-Omaha game Monday.
After its pitchers made several key stops throughout the late innings, Arkansas was the beneficiary of a Texas-sized meltdown with Baylor misplaying what would have been a game-ending double play and then hitting a pair of batters with the bases loaded to end the game.
Things looked grim for the Razorbacks when Dominic Ficociello couldn't capitalize on Matt Reynolds' leadoff walk in the ninth. Against a pitching staff as good as Baylor's and in their home park, no less, the less-than-reliable bottom of Arkansas' lineup came through in the most clutch of times.
Brian Anderson singled with two strikes and Bo Bigham hit a ball hard enough that Baylor shortstop Jake Miller couldn't handle it.
The rest is another chapter in Razorbacks' postseason lore. As the ninth inning rolled around Sunday, one couldn't help but search for Brett Eibner.
The former Arkansas all-American was the Scotty Thurman of the Razorbacks' baseball program, hitting bit shots in the clutch.
Eibner's heroics included two-out home runs in the ninth innings of a pair of NCAA postseason elimination games. His two-run home run sent the game to extra innings in Arkansas' win over Virginia in the 2009 College World Series, and his solo home run kept the Razorbacks alive in a super regional at Arizona State the next year - though Arkansas eventually lost in extra innings.
Now John Clay Reeves and Jimmy Bosco will be added to the list, especially if Arkansas can capitalize on its good fortune Monday.
The Razorbacks' pitching staff, widely regarded as one of the best in the nation, will have all arms on deck against what could very well be the nation's best hitting team. ESPN2 was more than happy to move the attractive matchup between the nation's preseason No. 4 team and the postseason's No. 4 national seed to primetime.
For Arkansas, only a one-way ticket to Omaha could top their Sunday fun in the sun.
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