Arkansas Suffers Two-Out Turnaround In Loss

OMAHA, Neb. — Most of Arkansas' players didn't budge for a few seconds as Scott Lyons grounded out to finish the Hogs' 9-1 loss to top-ranked LSU in the College World Series on Monday night.

They leaned up against their third-base Rosenblatt Stadium dugout, blankly staring at the celebrating Tigers.

About 15 seconds later, the Razorbacks slowly meandered out to meet Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, their heads drooped, their collective ego bruised. After six straight victories, a feeling of disbelief briefly overcame them, knowing they'd just fallen into the loser's bracket.

"It was kind of shocking," senior shortstop Ben Tschepikow said. "I'm just surprised we couldn't get anything done early on. We got some hits here and there, but we never got the big hit. That hasn't been the case for three weeks now. We've been hot and getting the clutch hit.

"It was such a surprising feeling. We couldn't get anything going, no momentum at all."

The Razorbacks' two-out success at the plate — and Cal State Fullerton's two-out struggles — defined their CWS-opening victory on Saturday. But the exact opposite occurred against before a raucous crowd of 23,417, resulting in the Hogs (40-23) feeling stunned.

Arkansas now faces a long road to the CWS championship series, as they must beat Virginia on Wednesday and LSU (53-16) on Friday and Saturday to advance.

"We just have to come back out (today for practice) with a hop in our step and forget all about this," Tschepikow said. "We were going bad for about a month and couldn't win any games, and look what happened — we got to Omaha. So I know we have it in us to come all the way back from this."

The eighth-ranked Razorbacks failed to produce clutch hits all night — and the Tigers didn't. But in actuality, Monday night's first three innings all but sealed Arkansas' fate. The Hogs stranded six base runners early on — one in the first, two in the second and three in the third.

LSU's Louis Coleman, the Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year, wasn't nearly as impressive as the last time Arkansas faced him, but he threw crucial pitches at crucial times. His strikeout of pinch hitter Jacob House with the bases loaded in the third kept LSU in front 4-1.

The Tigers went on to finish 9-for-18 at the plate with two outs and "just kept driving in runs with two outs," Van Horn said. Yet Arkansas was only 3-for-11 with two outs, two days after producing nine of its 10 runs against Cal State Fullerton with two down.

The Razorbacks said Coleman represented the reason for their two-out futility.

"(Coleman) was still locating his fastball real well," Arkansas sophomore Andy Wilkins said. "He was throwing it to both sides of the plate real well, and his slider was lights out."

By the time House struck out on three pitches, the Tigers had produced all the offense Coleman needed. LSU scored nine runs in the first six innings — eight with two outs. Mikie Mahtook's three-run home run in the first, on Arkansas sophomore Brett Eibner's 31st pitch of the inning, put the Tigers in the lead for good.

But it was LSU's second at-bat of the evening — a 13-pitch walk by Ryan Schimpf — that "set the tone," Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said.

"I thought Ryan Schimpf's at-bat was one of the better at-bats of the year," Mainieri said. "He kept battling and battling. Give Eibner credit, too. He kept throwing strikes. But Schimpf's at-bat kind of set the tone for the game. It was like, ‘Hey, we're not backing down from this team.'"

LSU then batted around in the sixth, scoring five more runs and sparking a steady flow of fans to the Rosenblatt parking lot.

That inning further frustrated the Razorbacks, who must quickly forget Monday night's blowout defeat and move on to preparing for Virginia, which eliminated Cal State Fullerton 7-5 on Monday afternoon. Van Horn said he expected his team to bounce back quickly, as it has all season.

"It was a disappointing game. We didn't do anything (at the plate), and we didn't pitch so great," Van Horn said. "Good thing for us, we have another shot."

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