Texas spoiled Dave Van Horn's return to Nebraska in a big way Friday night in the College World Series, pounding inept Arkansas, 13-2, on a night umpires might have actually been kind to the Razorbacks. Three UT hurlers limited the Hogs to just two hits.
Texas entered as the tournament's top seed with a 55-13 record. Arkansas entered as the No. 8 seed with a 45-22 record. However, the national poll after the Super Regionals had Texas at No. 2 behind Miami with Arkansas rated third.
Conditions were anything but summer-like after a cool front from the north brought rains in the morning and lowered temperatures to 60 degrees by the time the Hogs and ‘Horns began at 6 p.m. in the second CWS game of the opening day. There were 22,487 in Rosenblatt Stadium for the nightcap.
Texas scored 13 runs on just eleven hits. Arkansas pitching, so solid all year, was wild throughout the game. The UA pitchers walked six batters, hit five more (to tie a CWS record) and also committed two throwing errors.
"What we couldn't do we did," said Van Horn, the Arkansas coach. "We gave Texas help. We made errors, we walked too many. Texas got four early runs and with J. P. Howell, that's probably enough. The game got away from us.
"Some things were going okay for us early. We made some plays. What we didn't do well was throw strikes. We walked and hit batters. That's where our problems were and other than that we did some good things.
"We were getting Howell frustrated in the middle innings, but we never got the big hit. We wanted to work his pitch count and get him emotional. That's what he does sometimes. He is an emotional guy. He's good. He can pitch. He's a top draft pick."
Arkansas' Scott Bridges, who hit a solo homer off of Howell, said the Hogs could do little with the Texas hurler.
"He has a great curve and a great slider and he was dead on with both tonight," Bridges said. "We were looking for curves up and that's what I got. He kinda hung a curve in the middle of the plate. But he had us guessing and didn't leave many like that. We've fought from behind before this year and we didn't think 4-0 was too much. But we just didn't get the big hit when we needed it."
Arkansas had a runner in the top of the first when Clay Goodwin drew a two-out walk, but Scott Hode struckout to end the Hogs' first at bat.
Texas scored twice in the bottom of the first on a bases-loaded walk and when Charley Boyce hit the next batter forcing in two runs. Seth Johnston and Curtis Thigpen started things with back-to-back singles. The Hogs escaped further trouble when Ryan Russ hit into a bases-loaded double play to end the inning.
Texas lefty J.P. Howell walked Haas Pratt to leadoff the second and hit Brady Toops with one out. The Hogs couldn't take advantage when Devin Day went down swinging, Howell's fourth strikeout in the Hogs' first five outs, and Scott Bridges bounced out to second base.
The Longhorns got two more in the bottom of the second to go up 4-0, again with the help of Boyce. He hit the first batter and then mishandled a bunt. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Johnston's sacrifice fly to left scored David Maroul when Jake Dugger's throw was wide to the left. Michael Hollimon scored from second on Curtis Thigpen's single to left when Scott Bridges' throw was high and Toops had to retreat to haul it in. Boyce struckout Taylor Teagarden to end it, but had thrown 50 pitches in the first two frames.
Howell, with 153 strikeouts in 123 innings, retired the Hogs in order in the third on ground balls.
Goodwin made sparkling plays at third on the first two Longhorns in the third. He dove to his right to snare a smash by Carson Kainer and gunned him out. Then, he smoothly fielded and threw out Dooley Prince. UT did threaten when Ryan Russ singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Maroul popped to first to end the third and give the ‘Horns their first goose egg.
Scott Hode got the Hogs' first hit, a bouncer through the right side, to open the fourth. But he was erased when Pratt's bouncer to third went for a double play. Danny Hamblin was called out for the second time to end the fourth.
Howell teased the Hogs in the fifth, walking Day and Jake Dugger. A throwing error by the shortstop loaded the bases with two outs. Goodwin took two balls to open his at bat, but Howell came back to get himself, fielding his grounder up the middle and throwing him out to end the Hogs' first real threat.
The Longhorns added their fifth run in the bottom of the fifth on Thigpen's third single, a sacrifice bunt and Prince's single up the middle. The Hogs got out of more troulble when centerfielder Casey Rowlett threw out a runner at third and catcher Toops picked off another UT runner at first.
Hamblin hit into a double play to end the sixth. Interestingly, both Howell, the Texas ace, and Dave Van Horn, the UA head coach, had words for plate umpire Scott Graham after that inning. Graham's strike zone was especially erratic over the first six innings.
Boyce was lifted after five innings in favor of Daryl Maday. Boyce got the start ahead of lefthander Clint Brannon, the Hogs' usual choice to open a weekend, because Texas has blistered lefties over the last month. Maday allowed a leadoff walk, but nothing else in the sixth.
The Hogs made it 5-1 in the seventh when Bridges, a lefty with only two homers on the season, ripped a scorching liner deep into the stands in straightaway right field for just their second hit. When Howell walked Dugger, the Horns went to the bullpen for righthander Brent Cox. Dugger stole second base before Cox snared Rowlett's one-hopper and threw him out to end the inning.
Texas answered with five runs in the bottom of the seventh and well should have had three more. Maday's two-base throwing error, a hit batsman and a walk loaded the bases. Russ lined a two-out, two-run single to right plated two. Maday walked the next two to force home another run. Caton Hall relieved at that point and was greeted by a first-pitch, two-run single by Drew Stubbs to make it 10-1. The Hogs caught a break when Rowlett was given a catch when replays showed the soft liner bounced into his glove in short center. Play continued before the umpires finally ruled an out that erased three Texas runs.
The Hogs got a run in the eighth, but may have been lucky again. It appeared Hamblin hit into an inning-ending double play, but was ruled safe when replays showed he was out. Goodwin, who had walked to start the inning, scored. That inning ended when Hamblin was caught stealing.
Texas added three in the eighth on a pair of triples, a hit batsman and a sacrifice fly. One of the triples was a missed played ball in left with Dugger breaking back and then slipping as he tried to dive for the ball falling in front of him just in front of the warning track. Rowlett made a valiant bid to track down another triple with the ball glancing off his glove in deep center.
The Arkansas ninth was a series of pinch hitters. Buck Cody, the third Texas pitcher, hit Brett Hagedorn, but retired Bubbs Merrill, Blake Parker and Stephen Robison.
Rosenblatt Stadium was packed for the Arkansas-Texas game Friday night. Photo by Clay Henry
Texas 13, Arkansas 2, CWS Final
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