OMAHA, Neb. — One fact learned about the Arkansas baseball team this season: These Razorbacks rarely go down without a fight.
They seemed mere seconds from the end of their season several times Wednesday night in Rosenblatt Stadium, but never quit. And Andrew Darr's 12th-inning RBI double finally gave Arkansas the game-winning run, sealing an improbable 4-3 victory over fifth-ranked Virginia that will prolong the Razorbacks' stay at the College World Series.
"That was just a great ballgame to be a part of as a coach," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "It was roller-coaster (ride), very dramatic and a lot of heart shown by some really tough kids who didn't want to go home.
"It's one that I'll never forget."
No. 8 Arkansas advanced to another elimination game with the win, its seventh in extra innings this season, and will face LSU at 1 p.m. Friday. Should the Hogs win, they must defeat the Tigers — unbeaten in two CWS games — again Saturday to reach the championship series.
For most of Wednesday's night's contest, the Hogs (41-23) seemed destined to finish their CWS run before a crowd of 21,383.
Virginia freshman left-hander Danny Hultzen shut the Razorbacks down for 6 1/3 innings, and UVA took a 3-1 lead on Dan Grovatt's ninth-inning solo homer. But facing their last out, the Hogs received a game-tying blast from sophomore Brett Eibner — a two-run shot, his 11th this season.
Eibner smacked a 1-1 changeup from Cavs closer Kevin Arico into the left-field stands.
"I was looking for an offspeed pitch," said Eibner, who handed Arico his fourth blown save this season. "I happened to get it and put a good swing on it."
As if Eibner's first home run since April 28 (also a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth) wasn't impressive enough, Arkansas followed by getting four innings of scoreless relief from Dallas Keuchel.
The junior left-hander entered in the ninth, making his first relief appearance this season, and worked out of Virginia threats in all four of his innings.
Cavaliers coach Brian O'Connor said he "hurt for his players," but also complimented the gritty Razorbacks.
"We had a lot of opportunities, and we couldn't get it done," Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. "But that's a credit to Arkansas. They made clutch pitches and clutch plays when they had to."
Virginia (49-15-1) loaded the bases in the ninth with one out — after closer Stephen Richards committed a throwing error. But the Razorbacks somehow extended this 4-hour, 46-minute contest, the fourth-longest in CWS history.
Keuchel battled back from a 3-0 count and induced a double-play ball from Hultzen on a 3-1 pitch. Shortstop Tim Carver, in for Ben Tschepikow, blocked the ball with his body, quickly picked it up and flipped to Bo Bigham.
Bigham relayed fast to Andy Wilkins, and the throw beat Hultzen by half of a step.
"We were over there just saying, 'Hit it hard at us,'" Van Horn said. "We knew he could really run. But Carver just stayed in front of it — or maybe he didn't have time to get out of the way. He flipped it over and Bo turned a nice double play. They both did their job. It was exciting in the dugout, and we felt like we could win the game right there."
Keuchel put runners on second and third with one out in the 11th but struck out Jarrett Parker and John Hicks. Keuchel then allowed a leadoff double by Steven Proscia in the 12th before striking out the side to cap the season-saving victory.
His desire and ability to execute key pitches in nerve-wracking situations exemplified Arkansas' refusal to lose.
There was Eibner homering for the first time in 51 days. There was Darr, the senior, battling through a 10-pitch at-bat and finally prevailing. And there was Keuchel, on three days' rest, willing the Razorbacks into a rematch with the Tigers.
"What you saw today from our team was what we've done all year," Van Horn said. "It brought back a lot of memories of the season during that game. We were fighting for lives, like we did all year."
Arkansas 4, Virginia 3
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