Hogs Move to Winners Bracket in Omaha
The Razorbacks not only out scored the Golden Flashes but also lived up to its dynamic pitching reputation. DJ Baxendale started for the Hogs, pitching six and one-third innings with 94 pitches. He had a no-hit bid until the fifth inning, allowed one run on three hits, walked one and struck out five.
“Against Baylor, I really felt like I let the team down,” said Baxendale in the post game press conference. “To come out here at this stage and be able to get us through game one with a victory, it was huge for not only my confidence, but I think for the team’s as well, because we know any time you can win the first game, [our confidence] just keeps building off that.”
Kent State’s starting pitcher David Starn was pulled from the game after five and two-thirds innings. He walked six – three in the first inning – and allowed five earned runs.
“Coach Birbeck came in after the first inning, and we talked about it, and I felt like I got a little bit better control as the game went on,” Starn said. “But Arkansas is a great hitting team, and they took advantage of the pitches that I made mistakes on.”
Offensively, the Razorbacks tried to take advantage of each at bat. Junior catcher Jake Wise and freshman designated hitter Joe Serrano went 2-for-3 and 3-for-3 respectively. Wise hit his second homerun of the season in the second inning and had two RBIs; Serrano has hit .588 in the NCAA tournament and had one RBI on Saturday.
“When [Wise’s home run] left the bat, I thought it was a double,” said Coach Dave Van Horn. “That ball just kept going, made it to the seats. That was big for our psyche, our confidence.”
The Razorbacks were unable to drive the score higher because of four double plays turned by Kent State. Had the Golden Flashes forced a fifth double play, they would have matched the all-time record for double plays in a College World Series game set in 2007.
Matt Reynolds, who hit .312 during regular play this season, grounded into three of the Golden Flashes’ double plays.
With the first round win, the Razorbacks move into the winner’s bracket. They will play South Carolina on Monday at 8 p.m.