Razorbacks Can't Fight Off Rust At Regionals

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Missing out on the Southeastern Conference Tournament didn't cost Arkansas a spot in the NCAA baseball tournament. But failing to reach the SEC postseason might have played a big part in the Razorbacks' early exit at the Stanford Regional.

While all other regional teams were busy wrapping things up in one conference tournament or another, Arkansas was forced to sit at home and practice. And after watching the Razorbacks bow out with two quick losses against Pepperdine and Stanford, it was apparent the time off wasn't beneficial.

"It probably didn't help us, just because of live pitching and competition," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "You get into such a pattern of playing three and four games a week and then all of a sudden you don't play any for 12 or 13 days.

"It's just a different feel. And it's just like anything else where nothing can simulate a live game."

After a actual 10-day layoff, Arkansas (34-24) came to the Stanford Regional with the mindset it had nothing to lose. But the Razorbacks also felt like they had plenty to win. Unfortunately for the Diamond Hogs, there was too little offense in the key spots to make that happen.

"We really felt good about it coming in and felt like we were going to play better than we did," Van Horn said. "It just didn't happen, but I think the future is bright. We do have some young pitchers, some young hitters, a good recruiting class coming in. And a lot of team gained some good experience coming here."

Even though the Razorbacks had a short stay, just making it to the NCAA Tournament was an accomplishment of sorts. Especially when considering the way Arkansas started in SEC play and the number of injuries the team had to deal with along the way. But just getting here and showing they belonged wasn't enough for the Razorbacks.

"We should have won games, we should have won a couple of games," Van Horn said. "You don't leave 13 runners on base in a game like this and win it. And that's what was so disappointing. We knew we belonged here and I thought we were going to come in here and just get after it.

"(Friday's) game was like we couldn't get on track and it seemed like we were rusty. It almost seemed like an early season game where you're just not sure what's going to happen."

Leaving a total of 23 runners on base in two games — and scoring just five runs — it was clear the Razorbacks were a bit rusty with the bats. Still, even though it was a quick two and out Arkansas was happy to pick up some extra games for down the road.

"I think it was a great experience," freshman Andy Wilkins said. "It sure would have been nice to win it and take it to a Super Regional. But I know we gained some valuable experience, and we'll know what we have to do next time to get it done."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories