FSU Baseball Game Notes
First, the Hogs' pen was struggling coming in. Arkansas relievers gave up 13 earned runs and sported a 5.57 ERA in regional play with only ten strikeouts. On Friday, Boyd Goodner and Jay Sawatski were solid, allowing just four hits and nor runs on 4 1/3 innings of work. Sawatski was particularly impressive.
"He shut us down," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "He threw his breaking ball for strikes. That has a way of neutralizing a lot of people. He could throw his fastball to both sides of the plate and get his breaking stuff over. He did an outstanding job."
Second, clean up hitter Scott Hode broke free from a 2-for-32 skid, going 4-for-5 with an RBI and run scored. His hits set the table for the Razorback 6-9 hitters, who drove in a run apiece. He looked to a more famous shortstop while he was struggling.
"I read an article on Derek Jeter and his slump," Hode said. "He was saying that he looked at every at bat as an opportunity and a new chance to get back in a groove. I just tried to forget the last few weeks."
Even though he gave up a season high ten hits and six runs, Rhett James made a lasting impression.
"I don't think we've faced a guy like that all year," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He was crafty. He was throwing about eighty percent breaking pitches and was fooling us. His fastball wasn't overpowering but when you're looking off-speed, it looks that much harder."
James, who struck out just one hitter, said the day wasn't his best.
"I didn't have all my stuff today. They came out ready to hit. I held them down some times when they could have had more runs but in the long run they got us."
"He had decent stuff but I'm used to seeing hitters swing and miss a little more," Martin said. Those guys didn't miss much today."
A FAMILIAR LOOK
Martin likened the Razorbacks to a team FSU faced in the postseason last year. The Seminoles had to win a doubleheader against South Alabama in regional play to advance a season ago.
"They are as good a two-strike hitting team as we have played against. They were facing guys today that have struck people out. We couldn't do that. They put the ball in play. They were an aggressive team with tough outs. Reminds me of South Alabama, a team we used to play."
LAY OF THE LAND
The Razorbacks set a new home attendance record with an announced crowd of 9,338, breaking the previous record of 8,178 set during last weekend's regional finale against Wichita State. Several hundred more fans camped in the outfield grass.
The atmosphere was electric at newly-remodeled Baum Stadium. Since last season, eight luxury boxes were added, a 74' scoreboard was installed in right field and rye grass replaced the old astro-turf surface. The place looks a lot like the Braves' spring training complex at Disney. In comparison, the Seminoles drew just over 4,600 to last weekend's regional championship games against UCF.
"Intimidating," Martin said of the atmosphere. "It doesn't get any better than this."
The Razorbacks and Seminoles had met just once prior to Friday's game. FSU edged the Hogs 7-6 in the 1985 NCAA South II Regional at Dick Howser. Arkansas manager Dave Van Horn was a member of the squad before joining the Braves' farm system.
Van Horn, who came from Nebraska, has coached his teams to six straight regional berths – four with the Huskers and two in his first two years in Fayetteville.
The last time the Hogs were in a super regional was 2002 at Clemson. Arkansas beat the Tigers 9-6 in the opener before falling 8-7 and 7-4. The last time they made the College World Series was in 1989. Arkansas was 5-5 against the ACC prior to today. The Razorbacks were picked by coaches to finish last in the SEC West in a preseason poll. They responded by finishing first and tying for the SEC regular-season title. A loss to the No. 7 South Carolina ousted them from the conference tournament. The No. 8 national seed is the first every national seeding for the Razorbacks.
Malone has an 11-game hitting streak……Sunday's game, if necessary, will be played at either 3 p.m. or 6 p.m. EST…Gibbs Chapman:
"We all want to go Omaha. We'll be all right. We'll come out tomorrow ready to play."
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