"There are going to be one or two Super Regionals where someone comes out of the losers bracket from the Regionals," Garrido said. "It might as well be us."
Miami (Ohio) advanced after throttling poor Quinnipiac by a NCAA postseason record 28 runs! (The final was 35-8, as the Bobcats successfully completed a two-point conversion following a late TD.) All kidding aside, the Redhawks have saved ace pitcher John Ely (10-1, 2.53 ERA) for Sunday's showdown. Texas will likely counter with freshman Adrian Alaniz (4-3, 2.99 ERA) or Randy Boone (6-4, 3.01 ERA), who saw two-thirds of an inning Saturday. And since RHP Kyle McCulloch was shelled so early in this one, the first-team All-Big 12 hurler will have time to clear his head if his team gives him a chance for redemption on Monday.
"I feel good about knowing our team is going to continue to show its championship character that it showed throughout the season," Garrido said.
Garrido saved his pitching ace for the winners bracket. But the final book on McCulloch was pretty ugly: five runs, five hits, two walks, two hit batsmen, and 63 pitches in just 2-1/3 innings. The sophomore saw his record slip to 9-4 after most of the damage was done in an ill fated third inning when the Razorbacks jumped to a surprising 6-0 lead.
"I felt good, and I made some pretty decent pitches," McCulloch said, "but they capitalized on some mistakes and got me out of my rhythm. You can't do that against a good ball club."
But just how good is a Razorback team that finished last in the SEC West with a 13-17 mark, is unranked in all four major polls, and lost six-of-seven heading into the Regionals? On Saturday, it was as good as LHP Nick Schmidt (2.88 ERA) could carry them as he managed to nick the inside corner of a fluctuating strike zone with exasperating accuracy. The freshman went the distance for the Hogs, scattering 10 hits and holding the Horns scoreless through seven frames. The Horns answered with 10 hits but rarely had two runners on base or in scoring position.
"We got runners on but we have to find ways to get rallies going and get runners in," SS Seth Johnston said.
When CF Drew Stubbs commits his first error of the season, you know it's gonna be a bad night for the Horns.
Stubbs walked during his first plate appearance. The lanky, jackrabbit-quick sophomore stole second -- and then third -- before Carson Kainer took a called strike to end the first inning of play. 1B Chance Wheeless drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the second before 3B David Maroul's bloop single to center tallied Texas' first hit of the ballgame. With runners on the corners, RF Nick Peoples grounded out to third to keep the goose eggs on the scoreboard.
It didn't last long.
The Razorbacks broke out in the top of the third with LF Clint Arnold's bases-loaded double. McCulloch got himself into a jam when he plunked CF Craig Gentry after issuing a one-out single to 2B Brock Bond. He then walked DH Ben Tschepikow to load the bases. Arnold then lined a 1-2 pitch deep into left field as the Hogs jumped on top, 2-0. 1B Danny Hamblin followed with a RBI single. With runners on the corners and a 3-2 count, McCulloch pegged RF Jake Dugger to load the bases. After SS Scott Hode's RBI single to right, pitching coach Tom Holliday had seen enough. McCulloch was done as RHP Randy Boone (3.01) took the mound. The Horns managed to get the lead runner at home following 3B Clay Goodwin's grounder to first before C Brian Walker's line drive to center scored two more Hogs. By the time Boone fanned Brock, Arkansas had pushed six runs across the plate.
Stubbs responded with a one-out single to right but that was as good as it got for Horns in the home half of the frame. The top of the fourth was mercifully short as Texas turned the double play. DH Will Crouch tallied a one-out single in the bottom of the inning but the Horns were done when Maroul took a called strike on the inside corner.
Dugger drew a one-out walk, bringing Hode to the plate. In a quirky defensive play, Dugger was thrown out at second on Hode's sharply hit grounder but 2B Robby Hudson's double play attempt sailed high. Wheeless ran down the ball and then ran down a scrambling Hode, ending the frame on a fielders choice. The partisan Longhorn crowd sensed a momentum shift but, with Schmidt's fastball nearing 95 mph, all the Horns could show for the bottom of the sixth was a leadoff walk to Peoples.
With two outs in the top of the seventh and Clayton Stewart on the mound, Bond was the third Razorback beaned in the contest while Gentry quickly became the fourth. (At this point, Longhorn pitchers had hit more Razorbacks than Longhorn batters had hits.) It came back to haunt the Horns. Tschepikow's stand-up double plated two more runs as the Hogs extended their lead, 8-0. Teagarden's two-out single to center was the highlight of the bottom of the seventh for the Horns.
LHP Buck Cody came on in the top of the seventh and surrendered a leadoff single to Hamblin. Stubbs committed his first fielding error of the 2005 season, allowing Hamblin to score on Dugger's shot to center field. It was Arkansas 9, Texas 0 at the seventh inning stretch. Peoples was left stranded at first base following his one-out single to right field.
Freshman LHP Jordon Street became Texas' fifth pitcher of the contest in the top of the eighth and produced a one-two-three inning. The Horns finally got on the board with four consecutive singles in the home half of the frame. The brief uprising began with Johnston's one-out single to right field just before Crouch also lined one to right. C Taylor Teagarden's RBI single to left field finally erased the 'zero' for the Horns, driving in Johnston. (At this point, a less-than-healthy Teagarden owned three of Texas' eight hits.) Wheeless followed with an RBI single to right before Maroul took a called third strike and Peoples grounded out to first.
Neither team threatened during its last at-bat.
"The kids are not machines; they can't go out there and be perfect every time out," Garrido said, before adding. "They've got to overcome adversity."
Adversity has a 12 p.m. start time, Sunday.
*The original version of this story contained the following paragraph: "Texas head coach Augie Garrido and Razorback coach Dave Van Horn exchanged heated words and had to be separated during the post-game handshake. (Frankly, it's good to see some fire in the eyes of Obi Wan Garrido. He was still on a slow burn during the post-game press conference.)" Subsequent reports indicate that Texas assistant Tommy Harmon rather than Garrido was involved in the post-game exchange with Van Horn.