Hogs Hook ‘Horns

AUSTIN, Texas -- Burnt-orange-clad Texas fans began filing for the gates after the sixth inning of No. 2 Arkansas' 9-2 upset win against the top-seeded Longhorns in the championship round of the NCAA Austin Regional on Saturday. They could have left much sooner.

The Razorbacks (39-20) put up six runs in the third inning and freshman ace Nick Schmidt was dominating from the start to have the outcome decided early for the 5,717 in attendance at Disch-Falk Field.

It was the Hogs' first win against Texas in 14 years and exacted revenge for last season's 13-2 loss in the opening round of the College World Series.

"It's always nice to take the crowd out of it when you're on the road," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "Our team played really focused, almost like they were on a mission and didn't let the crowd get to them after those first couple of innings.

"But after that big (third) inning, you could notice that there was a lot less noise."

Someone who knows plenty about the importance of taking the crowd out of the game here is Hogs sophomore Danny Hamblin, who's from Rowlett, Texas.

"Texas doesn't lose like this here," said Hamblin, who was 2-for-4. "I think they're something like 32-4 at home, so for us to take that advantage away by the third inning was huge.

"It really made the difference."

Arkansas will play the winner of today's noon game between Texas and Miami (Ohio) for the regional championship. Should the Hogs lose, the double-elimination format calls for a second championship game to be played at 1 p.m. Monday.

The Razorbacks will not decide on a starting pitcher until today, but the leading candidates are right-handers Charley Boyce and Shaun Seibert.

Schmidt (8-2) was in complete control early and took a four-hitter into the eighth inning. That's when the Longhorns (46-15) used four singles (all grounders through the infield) to score two runs and end his shutout bid.

"The game was dominated by their pitcher," said Texas coach Augie Garrido. "He was outstanding and they played a very high quality of defense behind him."

The defense -- which didn't commit an error for the second consecutive game -- was led by junior center fielder Craig Gentry. Using his speed, Gentry had five putouts and chased down several line drives into the gaps that could've been extra-base hits.

"The defense has been unbelievable and it's great to know guys like Gentry are behind you," Schmidt said. "That, along with getting the big early lead makes it pretty comfortable for a pitcher."

It was Schimdt's second complete game as he threw 91 strikes in a season-high 141 pitches. He scattered two earned runs on 10 hits while striking out eight, which moves him into 10th on Arkansas' all-time single season strikeout list with 89 this season.

"Anytime you see a lefty who's spotting his fastball and throwing his fastball pretty hard ... " said Texas shortstop Seth Johnson. "and can throw a curveball back door for strikes and can throw a changeup for strikes like (Schmidt) was doing, it's going to be difficult to hit the ball."

Texas starter Ryan McCulloch (9-4) couldn't get past the third inning as an aggressive Arkansas offense scored six runs on five hits, highlighted by a two-run double by Clint Arnold and a two-run single by Brian Walker.

With the bases loaded, Arnold's double carried over the head of Texas left fielder Carson Kainer, who perhaps was playing more shallow than normal because Arnold hadn't homered in 196 at-bats coming in.

The Razorbacks added to their lead in the latter innings thanks to a two-run single by Ben Tschepikow in the sixth and an RBI single by Jake Dugger in the seventh.

"They capitalized on their opportunities," Garrido said. "They maximized those opportunities by their two-strike hitting and their two-out hitting."

The six runs in the third were the most the Hogs scored in a single inning since putting up six in the fifth inning of a 9-3 win against Northern Colorado on April 5.

It was quite a reversal of fortune for the Razorbacks since giving up big innings has been an Achilles' heel this season.

"What we did is get deep into some counts and got some two-out hits. Those are killers," Van Horn said. "You've got to earn those innings, but you've got to be a little lucky as well."






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