Photographs by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas second baseman Carson Shaddy (20) celebrates after hitting a home run during the first inning of an NCAA Tournament game against South Carolina on Monday, June 11, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks second baseman Carson Shaddy hit the school's record-breaking home run in grand style Monday night.
Shaddy hit a three-run home run to cap the Razorbacks' five-run first inning against South Carolina for the Razorbacks' 93rd home run in their 63rd game.
The 2010 team held the record with 92 home runs in 64 games.
Shaddy belted a 2-0 pitch from Gamecocks right-hander Carmen Mlodzinski over the fence in left-center field with one out in the first inning and Heston Kjerstad and Luke Bonfield on base.
Shaddy's 13th home run this season and 32nd of his University of Arkansas, Fayetteville career extended his personal single-season record. His previous season high was eight in 2016 and 2017.
Shaddy, a senior from Fayetteville, has hit four home runs against South Carolina this year. He homered in each game of a doubleheader sweep when the Razorbacks beat the Gamecocks 2-0 and 3-0 on April 14, then he hit a two-run home run Sunday in South Carolina's 8-5 victory.
Sophomore Isaiah Campbell gave the Razorbacks four innings before losing his command to open the fifth and walking nine-hole batter Matt Williams on five pitches. The right-hander left to a standing ovation with an 8-2 lead after allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5. He threw 78 pitches, 45 of them for strikes.
Barrett Loseke replaced Campbell with a 1-0 count on Danny Blair, who proceeded to walk. Loseke rallied to coax a pop up from Carlos Cortes, strike out Madison Stokes and retire Jonah Bride on a line-out to right field.
Arkansas posted its second opening inning of five-plus runs in Monday's super regional final. The season record for a first inning was seven runs in the Hogs' 16-9 victory over Kentucky on March 17.
That explosive opening frame, mostly against Daniel Harper, was punctuated by a two-run home run from Carson Shaddy. His three-run blast off right-hander Carmen Mlodzinski was the crowning blow Monday.
Freshman Casey Martin's exceptional speed served as the catalyst for the Razorbacks' big first inning off of Carmen Mlodzinski.
After Eric Cole walked and Martin poked a single to left, Heston Kjerstad hit what looked like a tailor-made double play ball to third baseman Jonah Bride. Because Martin was closing in on second base, Bride looked there but then hurried his throw to first, which went wide of Matt Williams, allowing Cole to score and Martin to move to third base.
The Razorbacks went on to score five runs in the opening inning.
Running it down
South Carolina had two on and two outs in the fifth inning when Jonah Bride hit a drive off Barrett Loseke to the right-center field gap that looked like it might go for a run-scoring hit.
Instead, right fielder Eric Cole made a running catch in full stride to end the scoring threat and keep the Razorbacks ahead 8-2.
Baum Sweet Baum
The Razorbacks finished 34-4 at Baum Stadium this season, including 16-2 against SEC opponents. South Carolina was the only SEC team to beat Arkansas at Baum Stadium, where the Gamecocks were 2-4.
The Razorbacks' previous high for victories at Baum Stadium was in 2004 when they were 31-8.
Southern California and Kent State also beat Arkansas at home this season.
Dave Van Horn made a slight lineup change Monday, with catcher Grant Koch and third baseman Jared Gates flipping spots. Gates moved up to seventh in the batting order and Koch dropped to eighth. The change gave the Razorbacks alternating right- and left-handed batters after switch hitter Eric Cole in the leadoff spot.
Arkansas and South Carolina played for the seventh time Monday, the most times the Razorbacks have faced on opponent in a season.
Previously Arkansas had played the same team six times. The Razorbacks played former Southwest Conference foe Texas six times in 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985 and 1987. Since joining the SEC, they played Auburn six times in 1999 and South Carolina six times in 2012.
South Carolina went 1-6 against Georgia in 2006 in the only other time it faced an opponent seven times.
Arkansas' Heston Kjerstad and Casey Martin were voted first-team Freshman All-Americans by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, the organization announced Monday.
Kjerstad, an outfielder from Amarillo, Texas, was batting .343 with an Arkansas freshman-record 14 home runs and 53 RBI going into Monday's game.
Martin, a third baseman from Lonoke, was batting .341 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI. Kjerstad and Martin were among four SEC players on the team, along with LSU's Daniel Cabrera and Auburn's Edouard Julien.
Dave & Mike
Mike Morris, the home plate umpire Sunday who drew the ire of Dave Van Horn, has some history with the Arkansas coach.
Morris ejected Van Horn in LSU's 5-3 victory over Arkansas in 10 innings at Baum Stadium on April 14, 2013. Van Horn was ejected because he kicked some dirt along the first-base line after LSU's Mark Laird was called safe on a ground ball to first baseman Dominic Ficociello in the top of the 10th inning.
TV replays showed Laird running out of the base path as Ficociello reached out to tag him, but Morris called him safe.
"He can run out of the baseline, but when you go out of the baseline to avoid the tag, he's out," Van Horn said that day. "Simple. Bottom line."
Van Horn's issues with Morris on Sunday had to do with what he believed was a small strike zone.
When Van Horn went out to change pitchers in the sixth inning, he barked at Morris as he walked slowly to the mound. At the mound, he faced the plate and continued yelling at Morris.
Van Horn declined to comment about the incident.
"So you feel like I can talk about the home plate umpire?" Van Horn said to a reporter. "I can't talk about him."
SEC coaches love to talk about the strength of the conference, with 10 teams making the NCAA Tournament, and the competitiveness carried over into the super regionals.
All three super regionals involving SEC teams went to three games. Mississippi State beat Vanderbilt in the third game early Monday, and the Arkansas-South Carolina and Florida-Auburn series were tied 1-1 going into Monday night games.
Around the horn
• Longtime Grambling State baseball Coach Wilbert Ellis served as the lead NCAA coordinator at the Fayetteville Super Regional.
• Dave Van Horn coached his 1,001st game at Arkansas on Monday and improved to 639-362 (.638).
Sports on 06/12/2018
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