Hogs Offense Sticks To Approach

AUSTIN, Texas -- Arkansas' offense has made a habit out of dismantling quality starting pitching by working deep into counts early in games.



Case in point came during Saturday's 9-2 win against Texas in the second round of the NCAA Austin Regional.

Against Longhorns' right-hander Kyle McColloch, the Razorbacks' approach became clear early as the leadoff hitters in the first two innings each had seven-pitch at-bats. Even Clay Goodwin's second-inning strikeout could be considered a positive at-bat since it took McCulloch eight pitches to get the Hogs' senior out.

The early patience paid off as McCulloch exited with only one out in the third inning. After sporting a solid 9-3 record and 2.70 ERA coming in, he gave up six earned runs on five hits while throwing 63 pitches in his team-leading 19th start.

"Number one, it has a lot to do with (starting pitcher) Nick Schmidt," said Hogs hitting coach Matt Deggs. "Anytime he's on the mound, we're going to have a chance to win, but we have been able to put up some runs against other teams' No. 1 guys.

"And we've done it by doing exactly what we did (Saturday) and that's by getting quality at-bats early and sticking with our approach."

The approach is passive-aggressive, meaning they lay off pitches out of the zone while attacking pitches for strikes.

"About two weeks ago, we just went back to school and it's paying off," Deggs said. "It's just a real simple approach, a real simple game plan and the guys have taken it to heart.

"We're aggressive, but I would call it being aggressive in the strike zone while taking the pitches that are not strikes. We just try to slow it down and see the baseball.

"It's pretty simple."

Using the same approach , Arkansas has successfully beat aces such as Tennessee's Luke Hochever, Vanderbilt's Jensen Lewis, Florida's Bryan Ball and South Carolina's Aaron Rawl.

"The guys dial it up a little extra when they know they're facing a good pitcher," Deggs said. "It's a good trend to have, but you just wish we would take that approach all the time."



War Of Words

After the teams shook hands at the end of Saturday's game, somebody had to separate Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn and Texas assistant Tommy Harmon, who were exchanging words.

"I really don't know what happened," Van Horn said. "My job is to try to win and to try to score runs. A seven-run lead to me isn't safe anywhere.

"A couple of weeks ago, we had an 8-2 lead (against Florida in the Southeastern Conference Tournament) and we pulled (pitcher Nick Schmidt) and ended up losing 9-8.

"To me, if you're running, bunting and stealing on a team that's down seven or eight runs, that's respect. It's because they got firepower, they've got athletes and they're at home.

"If one of their assistant coaches got upset with it, that's too bad."



Big Picture

Only 48 teams remain in this year's NCAA Baseball Championship after 16 were eliminated on Saturday. All nine of the SEC teams in the field are still alive after each won their respective regional openers.

Quinnipiac is the first team eliminated from the Austin Regional after getting blasted 35-8 by Miami (Ohio) on Saturday and 20-2 by Texas on Friday.

The loser of today's noon game between Texas and Miami (Ohio) will be the next team eliminated from Austin with the winner hooking up against Arkansas at 6 p.m. for the championship

Since it is a double-elimination format, unbeaten Arkansas could play again Monday at 1 p.m. in a winner-take-all championship if it loses today.

If the Hogs win today, they'll advance to the NCAA Super Regional, which likely will be in Oxford, Miss.



Side Street

Texas has yet another player on its roster named Street in left-handed pitcher Jordan Street, a true freshman from Austin.

His brother, Huston Street, is a closer for the Oakland A's while their father, James Street, was the Longhorns' quarterback during the "Big Shootout" with Arkansas in 1969, which Texas won 15-14.

Jordan Street also has a twin brother, Juston, on Texas' roster.



Pig Tales

Texas pitcher Buck Cody, who entered in relief at the start of the seventh inning, is close friends with Arkansas' Charley Boyce. Cody is from Oklahoma City (Casaday High) while Boyce is from Tulsa (Union High) ... Arkansas started five freshmen Saturday ... Arkansas leadoff batter Craig Gentry was hit by a pitch twice during Friday's game and now leads the Razorbacks with 10.

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