Temple Of Boom

FAYETTEVILLE -- Jake Dugger's emotions went from temple of doom to temple of boom in a matter of minutes. His mirrored that of the 5,714 in Baum Stadium for Saturday's 5-2 Arkansas win against Princeton.

Dugger, the Hogs' left fielder, nearly broke his back while slamming into the fence in an attempt to rob Spencer Lucian of a two-run homer in the seventh inning.

"That's probably one of the best chances I've had to rob a home run," said Dugger, who has pushed two homers over the wall in his three-year career. "I timed it well and got a good jump, I just missed it by a couple of inches."

The Razorbacks (39-20) play ??? in another Fayetteville Regional elimination game at 2 p.m. today. The winner then faces ??? in the championship round at 7 p.m.

As Lucian rounded the bases, the theme from the Indiana Jones' movies rang out over the public address system. It certainly seemed to spell Arkansas' doom at the time as the Hogs were held hitless by Princeton starter Christian Staehely through seven innings.

Crouching after crashing into the fence, Dugger buried his head in his hands for several seconds.

"I was disappointed because I felt like I had a chance to catch it," Dugger said. "But also because of the fact that, 'Wow, they just scored two runs.'

"I knew right then that we were going to have to score some runs or our season's over."

At the time, Lucian believed a two-run lead was going to be enough for the Tigers (12-26-1) to beat Arkansas, a team that looked uninspired after spending most of seven innings with its shoulders slumped and heads down.

"I saw (Dugger) leap up and the crowd got loud and I knew that probably wasn't good for me," Lucian said. "But then it got real quiet and that's when I kind of registered for me that it was a home run.

"I still knew that we had two and a half innings left to go, but looking at the scoreboard at the time, those two runs looked pretty big."

But then came the boom in the form of James' Ewing's three-run double in the eighth and it all was started by cheers -- and jeers -- from the Arkansas faithful.

Dugger reached on a sacrifice bunt attempt to load the bases for Ewing and was the one who raced around -- nearly catching Craig Gentry in front of him -- to score the go-ahead run on the slicing line drive into the right-center field gap.

With the play happening in front of him, Dugger saw the ball was going to be down and got a better jump than Gentry, who was tagging at second in case the ball was caught.

"Gentry's faster, believe me," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "But as close as (Dugger) was to him, I just felt like I was going to go ahead and let him go and just send him."

So only minutes after collapsing on the warning track, there was Dugger crossing home plate with both arms up, his index fingers pointing to the sky.

"It was a complete turnaround for me emotionally," Dugger said. "Things weren't going our way the whole game and we somehow bounced back and won it in one inning."

It also reversed the crowd's emotions, which had grown restless by the eighth inning after starting several "Hog Calls" that went unanswered to that point.

But they were the ones who lifted the Razorbacks up when they clearly were down and in danger of being out in the elimination game.

"They guy was throwing a no-hitter through the eighth and they were getting on us pretty good," Ewing said. "When (UA pitching) coach (Dave) Jorn came out to talk to (UA starter Shaun) Seibert when he was pitching, they told him that the pitching coach doesn't need to come out and that the hitting coach needs to.

"So they were kind of bashing us, saying we need to get some hitters going."

Apparently, the crowd's role helped in more ways than one. Staehely (5-2) was unhittable through seven innings by mixing a nasty split-fingered fastball with three other pitches. He said the crowd is what caused him to lose focus in the eighth when he walked Matt Willard and Gentry to start the inning.

"The first seven innings, the crowd was pretty irrelevant to me. I didn't even notice them," Staehely said. "They got objectively louder in the eighth inning and it was after that first hitter I walked. It was a full-count and that's when they got to me.

"Halfway through the pitch, it was a splitter, my mechanics messed up at one point and that was because of the crowd."

Seibert turned in the best performance of his career despite "not having his best stuff." He struck out three in a row at one point and held Princeton scoreless through six innings before giving up Lucian's homer.

Brian McLelland (4-1) came on in relief in the seventh and retired nine of the 10 batters he faced to aid the Hogs' rally before finishing off the Tigers.

"We're very disappointed, but yet, we're also very proud of ourselves," said Princeton coach Scott Bradley. "When we come into this situation, we have to be perfect ... And we almost were perfect (Saturday)."

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