Texas Burns Arkansas

AUSTIN, Texas -- With rally caps on, Arkansas players' heads dropped simultaneously as Clay Goodwin grounded to short for the final out of Monday's 5-2 loss against Texas in the NCAA Austin Regional Championship in front of 5,544 in Disch-Falk Field.

Nobody moved for several seconds until freshman Clint Arnold dropped to his knees at the top of the dugout steps and slammed both hands into the AstroTurf surface.

Trailing by three runs heading in the final at-bat against Longhorns' closer J. Brent Cox, the Razorbacks (39-22) still thought they could win.

Instead, Cox retired the side in order in the ninth and lifted Texas into the Oxford (Miss.) Super Regionals for the fourth straight year while ending Arkansas' season.

"Cox is a great pitcher," said Hogs freshman Brian Walker, who was 2-for-4. "But I never felt like we didn't have a chance until that last out."

With the score tied at 2-all, the Longhorns (49-15) used a pair of solo homers off Hogs starter Charley Boyce to take a 4-2 lead. Boyce, pitching on short rest after throwing 122 pitches in Friday's 9-5 win against Miami (Ohio), labored through seven innings while allowing three earned runs on 12 hits.

"I wish I had five or six guys like Charley," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "A guy like Charley gives you a chance every time out and he gave us everything he had, not just (Monday), but really through the last half of the season."

Texas' first homer was smashed off the bat of Taylor Teagarden in the sixth while the second came when Chance Wheeless launched a drive over the right-field wall in the seventh. A sacrifice fly by David Maroul then pushed the lead to 5-2 in the eighth.

The three-run deficit probably seemed like 30 against Cox, a hard-throwing right-hander who was fresh after not pitching during the regional. He sports a stingy 1.69 ERA and any lead is usually safe when he's on the mound.

"Any team that can come through the loser's bracket and win a championship, that's about as difficult as it can get," said Texas catcher Taylor Teagarden. "This could really gives us momentum.

"I knew that if we got a strong start from Kenn (Kasparek) and a couple of innings from Kyle (McCulloch), then we could get to Brent and he was really fresh."

Arkansas only had one hit in the final three innings against Cox. It was the lowest scoring output for the Razorbacks since a 9-1 loss against Ole Miss in the regular season finale.

"I was disappointed on the offensive end," Van Horn said. "I thought their pitchers did a nice job of handling us and I just thought we would swing the bats a little better (Monday) because we've been feeling it a little bit at the plate.

"And then when they went to their closer (Cox, who started the seventh), it made it difficult."

Texas right fielder Nick Peoples made the play of the game with a diving catch to rob Brock Bond of a base hit in the fourth inning.

Not only did he make the catch, but Peoples -- after rolling over a time or two -- one-hopped a throw to first base to make it a double play as Hogs' runner Brian Walker (who clearly didn't tag up at first) had already rounded second as it appeared the ball was going to drop in for a hit.

"It looked like we were going to have a flare, that it would bounce in front of him," Van Horn said. "If he doesn't catch that ball and it bounces in front of him, then at the very minimum, we're going to have a runner at second and third with one out. But we took a chance and told the runner to go."

The play Van Horn was referring to was a line drive that sailed past Goodwin's glove at third. With a runner on second, Goodwin could have possibly turned a double play if he made the catch.

However, the ball traveled into left field and led to a two-run fourth inning for the Longhorns.

"He catches that ball it's going to be a double play," Van Horn said. "Then were out of the inning with the lead, but they ended up scoring two after that.

"So, Texas, they outplayed us. They outpitched us and they made the plays on defense."

Arkansas took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after Craig Gentry stretched a routine single to left into a double (the second time he's done that in the regional) to leadoff the game. Two outs later, Danny Hamblin lined a single to left to score Gentry.

Texas answered in the fourth with a leadoff double of its own by Wheeless, who bounced the ball over the right-field wall after an eight-pitch at-bat. Then, Will Crouch and Robby Hudson each hit had run-scoring singles after Goodwin's error to give the Longhorns' a 2-1 lead.

But Arkansas evened the score at 2-all in the fifth after Gentry worked a lead off walk. He stole second and advanced to third when Teagarden, the Texas catcher and tournament MVP, threw the ball into center field.

That allowed Gentry to score easily from third on Ben Tschepikow's ground out to the left side of the infield.

"My hat is off to my team and Charley," Van Horn said. "It was a great effort and he gave us a chance to win on a day when people thought we were going to get hammered.

"So I'm really proud of them and looking forward to next season."

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