Rousy Raves About Razorbacks

FAYETTEVILLE -- Cal State Northridge coach Steve Rousy recognizes a great team when he sees it. A 19-year veteran of college baseball, Rousy has seen his share College World Series-caliber teams come and go.

This weekend, he may have seen another.

Arkansas (14-1) completed a sweep against the Cal State-Northridge Matadors with Sunday's 8-6 win in front of 6,215 in Baum Stadium. It was the first time Northridge (9-13) has been swept this season despite playing top-notch opponents in Oklahoma State, Washington and No. 17 Arizona State.

"We saw Arizona State early on and Arkansas is better," Rousy said. "That's not taking anything away from Arizona State, it's more of a compliment to Arkansas. This club here is very good for two reasons: They're good athletes and they're good baseball players, but they're also experienced.

"The guys who are hitting 7, 8 and 9 (in the lineup) for them could be hitting 2, 3 and 4 for most teams, if not all. That's what makes them so tough. There's no break in there."

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn has been around more than his share of quality teams. He believes this team has big-time postseason potential, but still has a rough road ahead beginning with Friday's Southeastern Conference opener at No. 15 Florida. The Gators swept Harvard over the weekend and are riding a five-game winning streak.

"We know we have a long way to go," Van Horn said. "When you look at the records of everybody, it's going to be a tough, tough league. It's going to be tough to win series every weekend and if we can win enough series, we'll have a chance to win it at the end and that's what we're hoping to do this year."

The No. 10 Razorbacks wrapped up their nonconference slate with a seventh straight win Sunday. While the final score was close, the game wasn't after Blake Parker's three-run double in the seventh inning put the Hogs in control.

Northridge starter Bobby Paschal (0-1) loaded the bases with one out by giving up singles to James Ewing and Clint Arnold and walking Jake Dugger. Paschal was relieved by Jimmy Brettl, who promptly hung a 1-2 breaking ball to Parker.

"That was the biggest hit of the game," Van Horn said. "They tried to come with a breaking ball that they wanted down and in, but left it up and he slapped a line drive over the shortstop's head for a bases clearing double.

"That was great. We needed that."

It was needed since the Matadors had rallied back from an early five-run deficit. They trimmed the lead to 5-4 on Jimmy Coit's two-run homer in the fourth inning.

Arkansas built an lead with some help from Northridge in the first. That inning, three errors, two wild pitches, two walks and two singles resulted in four Razorbacks runs. They added another to make it 5-0 with Matt Willard's solo homer in the second inning.

"It was all pitchers throwing the ball," Rousy said. "Pitchers throwing the ball wild to the plate. Pitchers throwing the ball wild to first. Pitchers throwing the ball wild to second.

"Pitchers are supposed to be the most accurate throwers on the field, but when our foot was on the rubber, we couldn't throw it straight."

Arkansas' pitchers sure could, yielding just one walk in the final two games of the series. The Hogs sent five to the mound on Sunday after starter Chris Rhoads lasted just 3 1/3 innings after allowing 3 runs (two earned) on 7 hits.

Rhoads, a junior college transfer who won his first three starts, was roughed up in his previous two outings in the Rainbow Tournament in Hawaii. Van Horn said he would have started Shaun Seibert on Sunday (and probably will at Florida next Sunday), but the sophomore was suffering from a sore elbow.

"Rhoads actually had good stuff, but he was throwing it belt high and they were hammering it," Van Horn said. "We've been telling him that this is different from junior college baseball, a good hitting team is going to pound you if you're up in the zone."

Making his second appearance of the series, reliever Brian McLelland (1-0) picked up the win despite giving up a two-run homer to Jorge Andrade Jr. in the eighth. He allowed two hits and walked one in 3 2/3 innings.




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