Season Ends On Bitter Note For Seniors

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas first baseman Danny Hamblin stood in the on-deck circle and watched his college baseball career flash before his eyes.

With one swing of the bat from Razorbacks designated hitter Jeff Nutt, Hamblin realized his amateur career was suddenly over.

After Nutt struck out to end the game, Hamblin and his teammates watched Oklahoma State celebrate a 7-6 win and the NCAA Fayetteville Regional championship.

So, what was going through Hamblin's mind?

"I just kept thinking, ‘Give me a chance, give a chance, please,'" said the school's all-time home run leader. "I just wanted a chance. I had the most faith in Jeff, too, because he's been seeing the ball good lately.

"I just wanted a chance."

Hamblin, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior from Rowlett, Texas, never got to realize his dream of returning to Omaha, Neb., and the College World Series.

Neither did senior outfielder and Omaha native Jake Dugger. Hamblin and Dugger both played in the 2004 CWS.

"It's tough, especially ending it in a regional," Dugger said. "We thought we were going to come through it and win this thing and go on and possibly get another shot at Omaha.

"It just didn't happen."

Hamblin, who was drafted by the Oakland A's in the ninth round of last year's draft, came back with the CWS in mind.

"I'm going to miss this place most of all," Hamblin said. "I came back for a reason and didn't quite get there. We went all out and left nothing in our body.

"We left it all out on the field."

Hamblin and Dugger make up a handful of players who won't travel "The Road to Omaha" next year. A few underclassmen will leave because of the annual draft next week.

Junior catcher Brian Walker, one of the draft eligible players, isn't sure he'll return, either.

"It's bittersweet," Walker said. "This team is so special and close. If I don't make it back, I'll be honored to have been a member of this team.

"I played well tonight but the team didn't win, it just didn't settle well."

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn praised his seniors and others leaving his program. He, however, knows Arkansas will be heard from again next year.

"We'll be back," Van Horn. "We don't have that many seniors. We really have a lot of guys coming back, but I'm proud of our seniors. They been here for four years, a couple of them two years. They've been leaders on and off the field.

"They helped us get when we are and where we are going.

"Yeah, we had high hopes.

"We have high hopes every year. Every team I coach is going to have high hopes that's the expectation tell them when we recruit them. We're going work.

"This team had a chance, we just ran into a hot team."

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