The Razorback baseball team will return to the scene of one of its happiest memories of the 2015 season with hopes of continuing some 2016 momentum.
No. 15 Arkansas (18-6) – which swept a three-game set from visiting Auburn last weekend – will visit No. 16 Oklahoma State (17-7) Tuesday night for a 6 p.m. game at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.
That’s where Arkansas clinched its NCAA Tournament Super Regional berth last season by scoring five runs in the eighth to eliminate Oklahoma State 7-5 in the winner’s bracket final and then whipping St. John’s 4-3 to take the title.
“We are excited,” noted Arkansas shortstop Michael Bernal, who hit .455, had two homers and drove in seven runs last weekend in the sweep of Auburn. “Last time that we were there it was a really sweet moment for us.
“I was talking to the guys and how they (the Cowboys) might feel we snuck that one by to punch our ticket. We are all looking forward to go out there and have a good, competitive clean game.”
Oklahoma native and Arkansas closer Zach Jackson is certainly looking forward to the contest.
“…I am from Oklahoma and all my buddies go there, the kids that I grew up with in high school that don’t even play baseball go there,” Jackson said.
Arkansas will send freshman pitcher Blaine Knight (2-0, 4.32) to the mound while Oklahoma State plans to start Michael Mertz (1-1, 3.92).
The Cowboys, who will visit the Razorbacks on April 26, have won four straight games and are led by a pitching staff that leads the Big 12 and is fifth nationally with a 2.20 ERA.
While Oklahoma State is hitting .246 as a team, Arkansas is batting .289 while its ERA is at 3.88.
Razorback head coach Dave Van Horn, whose team rebounded from being swept at South Carolina, thinks his squad may have turned a corner.
“Any time you win you start getting a little bit of a good feeling, a good vibe going where you feel like you're going to win,” Van Horn said. “Mentally, this is such a mental game. You've got to feel good about it and be confident and good things usually start happen.
“It's hard to hit, pitch and field if you're nervous. You just have to be loose. I think they've figured out you can be serious but you can be loose at the same time. I don't know. I feel like maybe we've turned the corner mentally.”
The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports-Plus.