It was a warm Tuesday at Haymarket Park, even for late March in the corn belt. Temperatures were at 58 by the ninth inning.
The crowd of 3,417 gave Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn a warm ovation when he came to home plate to present his lineup card. Cameramen crowded around to snap pictures of Van Horn's return.
After all, it was Van Horn's successes in five years at Nebraska that helped build the beautiful park.
The Cornhuskers made two trips to nearby Omaha for the College World Series under Van Horn.
However, it just got hotter and hotter under Van Horn's collar as the Hogs hit into four double plays and committed three errors in a 6-1 setback.
The game took just two hours, 24 minutes.
Van Horn took another 18 minutes in a post-game team meeting. Was he going over mistakes, or chewing on the Razorbacks? "I was partly going over mistakes, but I got after them, too," Van Horn said. "It's time to get over what happened last Saturday."
That was in reference to blowing a 10-1 lead in a 15-11 loss to Georgia that started what is now a three-game losing streak.
Van Horn said one of the few bright spots against Nebraska was the pitching of Omaha, Neb., product Sam Murphy. The redshirt freshman had faced just 11 batters in two previous appearances this season, but he kept the Hogs in the game.
Mike Bolsinger was scheduled to start, but complained of a "tender" shoulder in warmups. That pushed freshman Kendall Korbal into a start.
Korbal gave up an unearned run in the first, then a two-run homer in the second. Murphy took over in the third. The Nebraska lead was still just 3-1 when he gave up a single and a double to open the eighth.
Nebraska cleanup hitter Mitch Abeita greeted Justin Wells, the third UA pitcher, with a three-run homer over the 395-mark in straightaway center.
"It would have been a fun day had we played better," Van Horn said. "Their pitcher (Jennings) was tremendous. The report on him was that he is wild, but he never was. After the third inning, he threw nothing but strikes."
The Hogs got their only run when Aaron Murphree beat out what could have been another double-play grounder, stole second and then slid around the tag at home on Smalling's line single to right.
Logan Forsythe, who had two hits, led off the ninth with a single. But the Hogs went quietly when Casey Coon hit into a double play, his third of the day.
Bolsinger, righthander from McKinney, Texas, was the scheduled starter for the Hogs on Tuesday. But he complained of a tender shoulder in warmups and did not pitch.
Bolsinger was set to be first out of the bullpen Saturday against Georgia, but went down to a stomach bug during that game.
"We thought he was OK for Sunday's game, but he said his shoulder was tender then so he didn't pitch," said Dave Jorn, UA pitching coach.
"Yesterday he was noncommital at first and then said he was fine, but today his shoulder was tender again. That's the first we've known that his shoulder was bothering him."
Jorn said he was unsure about a starter against Nebraska today.
"We don't want to use anyone too much because we play at LSU on Friday," he said. "We may just start (closer) Travis Hill and see if we can stretch him out a little. His arm bounces back the best of anybody."
Van Horn called the Arkansas offense "lethargic" against the Cornhuskers.
"Really, our pitch selection was horrible by our hitters," Van Horn said. "We had several innings where we got the leadoff man on, then went after a changeup on the first pitch and hit into a double play.
"Give credit to Nebraska. They are just a lot better than us right now. I'm disappointed we didn't have a better start to today's game.
"Sam Murphy had a heckuva game pitching for us. He was a major plus for us."
Murphy said he was "excited" to pitch in front of so many friends and family and thought he did well for the most part.
"I just wanted a chance to pitch here this weekend, so I'm glad to make the travel roster," Murphy said, noting he had an easy choice in picking the Razorbacks when Van Horn came calling.
"After Coach Van Horn left here, I wanted to go play for him. But this was a big day for me."
Jorn said Murphy worked hard on the side pitching in the bullpen last spring, then had a good summer in the Texas collegiate league.
"But he hadn't pitched as well this fall," Jorn said. "We talked last week and he asked for a chance to pitch up here. I thought he really did a good job today and we are glad to be taking him to LSU."
Nebraska 6, Arkansas 1
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