Extra Motivation

Arkansas' players believe the Razorbacks should be hosting an NCAA Regional instead of traveling to one, but the Razorbacks plan to use the extra motivation of a "chip on the shoulder" to push toward a return trip to the College World Series in Omaha.

Arkansas' baseball team will enter the NCAA Tournament with a chip on its shoulder after being passed over to host one of 16 regionals.

Whether it should have hosted or not is debatable, but it's clear the No. 14 Razorbacks are going to use the "slight" as motivation.

"We are frustrated that we didn't get a host spot," Arkansas outfielder Matt Vinson said Monday. "We felt like we played enough well all season. But we are going to go out on the road, we are all going to play with a chip on our shoulder – just like we always do.

"We feel like we kind of get looked over all around the country so we are just going to play like we always do," Vinson added.

The second-seeded Razorbacks (37-20) will play Northeast Conference champion Bryant (44-16-1) Friday night at 7 p.m. in Manhattan, Kan.

"We were disappointed for the fans, but it doesn't bother us whether we are on the road or at home now," Arkansas pitcher Barrett Astin said. "But we are going to be playing with a chip on our shoulders just because we are not hosting and we thought we should have."

Top-seeded Kansas State (43-17) will meet fourth-seeded Wichita State (39-26) in the regional opener at 2 p.m.

The double-elimnation format has a championship game slated for Sunday night at 7 p.m. with another game slated for Monday if necessary.br>
"It is what it is and we just have to go out to Manhattan and take care of business," Vinson said. "…We have played a lot of tough teams on the road and the SEC Tournament was basically on the road. Playing LSU was like playing at (the Tigers') Alex Box (Stadium). It seemed like they had 15,000 fans there.

"We don't mind playing on the road," Vinson said. "We feel comfortable, we feel confident so we will just go out and take care of business."

Astin will be Arkansas' likely starting pitcher against the Bulldogs on Friday.

"We've heard of them, we knew they were good all year," Astin said. "They have been talked about all year. They are a good pitching team. They have guys that are batting .300 or over. Their fielding is good and they are out of Rhode Island."

While Arkansas has the nation's lowest ERA at 1.83, Bryant's 2,63 is in the top 10 nationally.

"We preach it all the time the postseason is about pitching, defense and timely hitting," Vinson said. "We have to have timely hitting if we want to move on in this tournament. We are going to practice at it this week and put pressure on ourselves during practice and hopefully we will get it done in the games."

Vinson says there will be no looking ahead.

"Any team in the tournament is going to be good," Vinson said. "They are playing hot at the right time. I think they have won over 40 games. They are going to be good and we are going to have to be able to play our game to beat them."


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