For the second time in this College World Series, the Razorbacks were easily handled by LSU, falling to the Tigers 14-5 Friday at Rosenblatt Stadium.
"LSU was just too strong today," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We just didn't have enough to hold them down.
"I told the team I wasn't going to get emotional if we lost. When you lose there is only one place to end your season and it's right out there in that stadium. I didn't want them to hang their head because they should be proud."
LSU (54-16) hit solo home runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings and added a two-run bomb in the ninth for good measure, and Arkansas' offense never was able to counter. The Tigers only out-hit the Hogs 16-9 for the game, but Arkansas left six runners on base.
Pitching was the concern coming into the game for an exhausted Arkansas (41-24) staff following a 12-inning win over Virginia, and the bullpen couldn't tame the Tigers' bats. The Razorbacks combined to use a College World Series record-tying eight pitchers in the affair that was delayed two hours, 30 minutes by a weather delay.
Junior Stephen Richards (6-2) got his first start of the season for the Razorbacks. The left-hander started well by fanning the two first batters he faced, but things went quickly downhill from there.
LSU designated hitter Blake Dean scored LSU's first run in the first inning and the Tigers chased Richards with the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the third.
"He was looking pretty good and had a couple of strikes on (Dean) and he doubles," Van Horn said. "The next guy comes out and gets a base hit and we're down 1-0. But that was OK because we got out of it.
"In the third inning we called a fastball on a 1-2 pitch and throws a slider, and the next thing you know he lines it into center for a single. Then he walked the next batter in four pitches and he was done. When his arm starts going one way and his body the other way, Stephen is done – we've seen it before."
Mike Bolsinger made his third appearance in relief in four games at the College World Series, but was unable to get out of the jam as the Tigers scored three runs in the third on an error, sacrifice fly and wild pitch.
"When they scored those three runs we knew we were in an uphill battle," Van Horn said. "We needed to score some runs in the bottom half of the inning and couldn't. We had a couple of runners on and couldn't get them home and that hurt."
LSU continued the onslaught in the seventh by chasing three Razorback pitchers in the inning and scoring five runs to take an 11-0 lead. Dean, who finished the game with three runs, led off the inning with a solo home run.
Brett Eibner finally put Arkansas on the board in the bottom half of the seventh with a two-run home run to cut the lead to 11-2. It was Eibner's second home run of the College World Series after his ninth inning shot Wednesday tied the game with Virginia.
Arkansas senior Chase Leavitt added a three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to set the final margin. It was just his second home run of the season.
"It was fun to see him hit that with two outs in the ninth because we've been doing that all year," Van Horn said. "It didn't mean anything, but it meant something to us. That was perfect; if we were going to lose, it was nice to see that."
Outside the two homers, pitching was hardly an issue for the Tigers as Anthony Ranaudo (11-3) went six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and striking out five Razorback batters in his second start in Omaha.
"After about the third inning we were in trouble because he was just throwing too good," Van Horn said. "He was spotting his pitches in and out…and threw a lot better than he did his first outing here."
The LSU sophomore atoned for a loss to the hands of Arkansas in Fayetteville on May 1.
"The first time we saw him this season he was pretty wild," Eibner said. "Tonight he was getting all the plate. He was painting the corners black and throwing really well."
Ranaudo's regular season loss was LSU's only to Arkansas in five meetings this season. The Tigers took the last four meetings against the Razorbacks, including two in the College World Series to take a 3-0 all-time lead over the Hogs in Omaha.
The Tigers advanced to the championship series with the win. LSU is the second Southeastern Conference team in as many years to make it to the national finals. The Tigers will face either Texas or Arizona State Monday night.
Arkansas finished with nine postseason wins – the most for any Van Horn-coached team at the school. The coach said he was happy with the way the team responded when everyone had seemingly written it off.
"There were a lot of people that expected us to be here, including this whole team," Van Horn said. "At one time we were ranked tops in one of the polls and we were in the top 10 most of the year.
"Now the way we played in May, not a whole lot of people probably expected us to be here, but we did. Once the season ended we were able to turn things around and I thought that showed the character of our players.
"I'm really proud of them."