Van Horn Rolls Up Win No. 100
The third-year Arkansas coach reach the century mark faster than any baseball coach in school history with Wednesday's 14-1 win against Centenary in front of 505 in Shehee Stadium. Former coach Norm DeBriyn didn't achieve the feat until the 37th game of his fifth season.
"My wife (Karen) brought it up (Tuesday) night," Van Horn said. "And it's great. It really is. But it's a credit to the players. They're the ones who go out and win the games. We just try to organize them and motivate them."
Van Horn has done it by being a gambler. Not betting on baseball, but rather by taking risks that are often against the odds such as stealing bases against talented catchers or sending runners home from third on short popups to the outfield.
The aggressive philosophy, which would make most conservative coaches cringe, was on display in Wednesday's blowout when Casey Rowlett stretched a double into a rare triple down the left-field line or when Jake Dugger went from first to second on a pop-up to right field.
"I'll gamble on running and stealing and doing some things here and there that some coaches might not try," Van Horn said. "But usually when we do that, nine times out of 10, it's more of an educated gamble. We usually look for certain things to give us an advantage, so there's some experience that factors in there."
At Nebraska, Van Horn also reached the century mark in his third season, but victory No. 100 didn't come until the Big 12 tournament. That season, the Huskers won a school-record 51 games.
Van Horn said some of his most memorable wins include last season's sweep at LSU, beating Vanderbilt ace Jeremy Sowers in Nashville, Tenn., the final game against Wichita State in last season's Fayetteville Regional and, of course, the two wins against Florida State in the Super Regional which vaulted the Hogs to their first College World Series appearance since 1989.
"I inherited a good program because coach DeBriyn did a great job," Van Horn said. "I think back to when those other coaches first started, like coach DeBriyn was practicing at the fairgrounds and chasing kids around trying to get them to play hard.
"So I feel I'm very fortunate to be here."
Win No. 100 was in hand early after the No. 8 Razorbacks (20-2) scored nine runs on 10 hits in the first inning. They finished with a season-high 25 hits led by Craig Gentry, who became the first Razorback since Nick Pitts in 2000 to have five hits in a game.
"Our starters did a great job of jumping out and getting the big lead by really swinging the bats well in that first inning," Van Horn said. "Everybody came out swinging."
It allowed Van Horn to begin emptying his bench with a bevy of pinch hitters in the sixth inning. In fact, the Hogs used 21 players, more than in any other this season.
"The guys who came off the bench were getting hits, too," Van Horn said. "We still have a fairly young team and we have a team that is going to continue to get better. If someone gets hurt, we've got some guys that we can plug in there where we don't lose a whole lot."
A pair of Razorbacks (Clint Arnold, Scott Bridges) had two hits in the first inning and other highlights were RBI doubles by Rowlett, Gentry and Scott Hode.
The Hogs added another run on an error in the fourth and scored three runs in the fifth, highlighted by Blake Parker's RBI double off the left-field wall.
"It was a good week for us," Van Horn said. "We won five out of six games and now we've got to go back home and face a tough Mississippi State team.
"I like what I see from our team. They're pretty scrappy."
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