Fielding Mistakes Play Role In Loss To Vandy

HOOVER, Ala. — Nobody felt worst than Arkansas third baseman Logan Forsythe when he walked off the field with his teammates Sunday afternoon in Regions Park.

The Razorbacks had just lost 7-4 against No. 1 Vanberbilt in the Southeastern Conference championship game in front of 7,263 fans on a hot, humid, partly cloudy day.

Forsythe could have declined comment, but took it like man.

"We struggled a little bit to start the game off," Forysthe said. "I made an error in the field. It probably cost a couple of runs but we battled back, you know."

Three Arkansas errors did put a dent in an otherwise productive tournament. Basically, the Hogs' chances of an upset went snap, crackle and plop in the opening inning Sunday.

That left Vandy holding a 4-0 lead before Arkansas even came to the plate. In the end, it was too much to overcome.

"It really didn't hurt totally, though it did a little bit," Arkansas second baseman Ben Tschepikow said. "We played good, solid defense all tournament. We had a couple of miscues. It hurt and cost of a couple of runs.

"It's not what cost us the game by any means at all."

It was Forsythe's uncharacteristic unsteady play — he was charged with one error but realistically could have been charged with another — which opened the flood gates.

"He got a ground ball on what was probably ball four ... we get a chopper to Logan and we get a quick out," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Then we a ground ball to third and Logan's got about as accurate an arm as there is. You know, I'm never seen him do that all year. I've seen him throw it high and low, but not really to the left like that or to the right.

"All of as sudden they have a runner at second with one out instead of two outs. It probably would of made a difference. I'm sure it did. It probably didn't help Dallas (Keuchel, Arkansas' starting pitcher). He was probably a little nervous anyway. That's part of the game.

"We had a chance to overcome but we didn't make it happen."

Forsythe didn't dwell on the negative.

"It's a tough loss," he said. "It's not all bad. We look at it as we had a great tournament. The way, I look at it, everybody had a good tournament.

"I'm not going to worry about it."

Regional Sites Announced

It really came as no surprise when it was announced early Sunday that Arkansas had earned the right to host a regional in the NCAA Tournament, starting Friday.

The other 15 sites are Arizona State, Coastal Carolina, Florida State, Long Beach State, Missouri, North Carolina, Ole Miss, Rice, San Diego, South Carolina, Texas, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wichita State.

Regional pairings and the Top 8 national seeds will be announced today at 11:30 p.m. on ESPN.

The regional hosted by Coastal Carolina will be played at Coastal Federal Field in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and the regional hosted by Texas will be played at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas.

"Just from experience, I think playing at home on the way to Omaha (site of the College World Series), I think it's the best way to get to Omaha," Arkansas senior first baseman Danny Hamblin said. "That's our final destination in mind. I think playing at home, it's going to be live.

"It's going to be fun."

Thirty conferences receive an automatic berth in the field of 64, along with 34 at-large selections. The College World Series begins play June 15 in Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.

"It's exciting," Walker said. "Playing at home, you're in your comfort zone. It'll be fun for the young guys who haven't experienced it.

"It's exciting. It should be a great atmosphere. You don't get regionals just by getting one, you have to earn it. That was one of our goals, we haven't accomplished all of them.

"But we are right on track."

On A Positive Note

Not all was bad for Arkansas on Sunday.

Despite dropping the championship game to No. 1 Vanderbilt, the 15th-ranked Razorbacks got a big lift out of their bullpen, even in defeat.

After falling behind, 4-0, in the top of the first inning, Arkansas quickly gave the hook to freshman starter Dallas Keuchel. But the move would actually pay off as relievers Chris Rhoads, Stephen Richards and Brian McLelland pitched some of their best ball of the year against a dangerous Commodores lineup.

"That was probably the No. 1 thing that happened for us today since we didn't win," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "To see guys come out of that bullpen and throw strikes and get out good hitters in tough situations, it's definitely going to help us come this Friday, Saturday and Sunday hopefully."

Despite getting into several tough spots over his five innings of relief, Rhoads was especially impressive. At one point during the middle innings, the senior from North Little Rock retired nine of 10 batters he faced to help the Razorbacks keep things close.

"You go in against a really good team like that and to see that you can get those guys out, it gives you confidence," Rhoads said. "You know that you can go in there next time and get out whoever it may be.

"The bullpen has been struggling the last couple of weeks and it's good to show the coaches and everybody else that we can step up when we're needed."

Tourney Tidbits

Vanderbilt became the first team, under the current format, to win the SEC Tournament after losing its first game of the tourney ... Arkansas improved its all-time SEC Tournament record to 17-24 with a 3-1 mark this week ... Jeff Nutt entered Sunday with just two hits in his last seven games before going 3-for-4 at the plate in the finals.

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