Hogs Catcher Makes Big Plays Even In Defeat

AUSTIN, Texas -- A possible "Miracle on MK Blvd." turned into a boulevard of broken dreams here Monday afternoon in the NCAA Austin Regional.

It also meant "The Road to Omaha" would only qualify as a dead end street because Arkansas lost 5-2 against top-seeded Texas in front of 5,544 fans at Disch-Falk Field.

There were no tears. No gnashing of teeth. No alibis.

"Somebody's got to win, somebody's got to lose," said Razorbacks redshirt freshman catcher Brian Walker. "Today, we just didn't happen to win."

On the year anniversary of "The Brady Crunch" -- former Hogs catcher Brady Toop's two-out, grand slam in the bottom of the ninth in Baum Stadium which beat Wichita State 11-9 to force a second game for the regional title -- Arkansas had no more magical moments.

This time the glass slipper didn't fit.

And this time all the laughter turned to sorrow.

"It's been a long year," Walker said. "We've learned a lot."

What Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn learned, for one, was how valuable Walker was to his ballclub this season.

"I saw the kid get better and better," Van Horn said. "I've was really impressed with his receiving. He's so much better receiving than I ever would have thought. Without him, we would have struggled this year. I'm really proud of him."

Walker made two plays uncharacteristic of a freshman and collected two of the five Arkansas hits.

Walker went 2-for-4, both singles.

"You take each (at-bat) one at a time," Walker said. "You make quality contact. I think I made quality contact three times today. That's the way I look at it.

"Coaches stuck with me and my ability to hit and I appreciate it."

Two plays defined Walker's work behind the plate Monday. Both of them came in the fourth inning.

First, Walker picked off Texas left fielder Carson Kainer at third base after a pitch-out. Three batters later, Walker blocked the plate long enough to tag out a hard-charging Dave Maroul at the very last second after Robby Hudson singled.

"On that pick-off attempt, I think there was one out, I think it was a 1-0 count," Walker said. "We (Walker and Razorbacks pitcher Charley Boyce) both had a feeling they were going to try to do something so we expanded the zone for a ball.

"I made a pretty good throw. Luckily (Kainer) dove. If he doesn't dive, the ball hits him in the back and goes into left field and I look like a goof.

"On that other play, we got a great relay throw by (Arkansas shortstop) Scott Hode and we just got the guy at the plate. Hode made a nice play."

Boyce said Walker's made nice plays all season. He knew Monday would be no different.

"He and I have been on the same page all year. (The coaches) sort of let me and him call our own game. We decide every pitch. We agree on what we want to throw.

"He's stepped up as a leader when things have gone wrong. He's got a bright future here. You know we lost (Brady) Toops last year, but Brian stepped in and for the most part, we didn't miss a beat.

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