Hogs Win Regional Bid

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas learned Sunday afternoon it will host an NCAA Regional beginning Friday in Baum Stadium. Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn and his players were forced to huddle around a radio for the site selections as clubhouse televisions did not carry ESPN News, which first aired the announcement at approximately 2:35 p.m.

"We might have to work on (getting ESPN News) next year," Van Horn said. "It would be nice if we knew we had it every year and didn't have to worry about it. It was kind of fun actually. It was kind of like ol' time, ol' school down there listening on the radio.

"Actually, I got a phone call because the TV was a little bit ahead of the radio that we were in and I told (the players) and they just screamed and yelled."

The Hogs (38-19) are one of five Southeastern Conference teams hosting regionals. The Atlantic Coast Conference is next with four while the Big 12 has three and the Pac-10 has two. Conference USA and Western Coast Conference each has one.

The rest of the 64-team regional field will be announced at 11:30 a.m. today on ESPN. The top-seeded Hogs will play the fourth-seeded team at 7 p.m. on Friday, while the opener between the second- and third-seed is at 2 p.m.

It's the second time in three years the SEC has been awarded five regional sites, something that didn't surprise Van Horn. Arkansas appeared to be on the bubble to host if only four teams won bids, especially with Ole Miss making a late run.

But Arkansas and Ole Miss both earned regionals, joining Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky as SEC sites.

"I was a little worried about it because of how well Ole Miss was doing in the tournament," Van Horn said. "Going into the tournament, I felt pretty good, but the way Ole Miss just kept getting after people and after I saw them beat us that night, they're playing well.

"So that was a little concern for myself and I think for the players, but getting five in, that's huge for our league."

Playing at home is huge for Arkansas, winners of its last six games in Baum Stadium. The Hogs are 20-6 at home this season, including an 11-4 mark against SEC competition.

Hogs fifth-year senior pitcher Charley Boyce was relieved by the announcement and said playing at home again was in the back of his mind during Senior Day and the regular season finale against Auburn on May 20. He said the fan support in Baum Stadium should give the team a distinct advantage this weekend.

"That's the big thing," Boyce said. "Especially for a couple of the mid-major teams like maybe a three- or a four-seed that will come in here and are not maybe used to playing in this kind of park with the atmosphere and the fans, so the biggest thing here is the home-field advantage."

From the ACC, Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia were name regional hosts. The Big 12 is represented by Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma while the Pac-10 sites are Cal-State Fullerton and Oregon State. WCC Champion Pepperdine and Conference USA Champion Rice also will host.

A couple of Internet sites put together projections on which four teams will be in each double-elimination regional prior to today's announcement.

SEBaseball.com has Arkansas playing fourth-seeded St. Louis on Friday with Oklahoma State and Missouri State coming into the Fayetteville Regional as the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively.

RosenblattReport.com has the Hogs opening against Evansville with second-seeded Baylor playing third-seeded UC-Irving in the early game.

"I would think that we're going to get one Big 12 team, so we're looking at probably Oklahoma State or maybe even Kansas," Van Horn said. "They've got to spread out those Big 12 teams and we're in Big 12 region, so I'm sure we will get one of those. There's a possibility of Oral Roberts and maybe a Wichita State if they get in. I think they're on the bubble and I think Missouri State, too. They could send Evansville down here.

"There's just a lot of options and it'll be interesting (today) to see who we draw."

Whoever the opponents, Van Horn figures his team will be well rested after losing both games in last week's SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. After arriving home at around 5 a.m. Friday, the Hogs practiced on Saturday and Sunday. They'll get today off with the exception of a gathering at Buffalo Wild Wings in Fayetteville to watch the selection show.

"We tried to turn a negative into a positive going over there and losing two games kind of playing flat," Van Horn said. "We tried to turn a negative into a positive in, 'Hey, we're here. We have a chance to get our legs back underneath us and get refocused and just really make a run in the tournament.'"

In the four series following back-to-back losses this season, Arkansas has posted an 11-1 record. Several players, like Boyce, have experience hosting regionals. In 2004, the Hogs won a regional and NCAA Super Regional in Fayetteville before making the school's first College World Series since 1989. Arkansas also hosted a regional in 1999.

"Hopefully, (the SEC) tournament was a little bit of a wake-up call," said Boyce, who's playing in his fourth regional. "Another huge advantage (to hosting) is being able to stay in your own bed and not having to worry about traveling. You're in your routine and you don't have to worry about being in a hotel.

"Throughout the year, that's what your playing for ... to be able to host a regional."

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