Photographs by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas' Isaiah Campbell pitches against South Carolina Monday June 11, 2018 during the NCAA Super Regional at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE -- Blaine Knight and Kacey Murphy walked and talked with Arkansas Razorbacks right-hander Isaiah Campbell on his stroll to the bullpen prior to his Monday night start against South Carolina in the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional.
Believe in your stuff and attack the strike zone, the veteran pitchers counseled.
Campbell delivered four solid innings for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, which clobbered the Gamecocks 14-4 to advance to its ninth College World Series.
Campbell didn't last the requisite five innings to pick up the victory, but he allowed just 2 earned runs on 4 hits through 4-plus innings.
"You live for this moment," Campbell said. "It's Game 3 of a super regional to go to Omaha. That's what you've dreamed about your whole life, to go to Omaha. So I didn't put any pressure on myself.
"No one on this team put any pressure on themselves. We had a really loose locker room before the game. It was really good to see."
Baum the bomb
Baum Stadium led all venues with an attendance of 89,852 for the NCAA Regional and Super Regional rounds the last two weeks. The Razorbacks were one of only six teams to host both rounds of the NCAA playoffs -- joining Florida, North Carolina, Oregon State, Texas and Texas Tech -- and were the only one of the five to surpass 80,000 in attendance.
Baum Stadium averaged 10,594 per Arkansas game in the NCAA playoffs, including 11,473 for the super regional round. Total attendance at Baum Stadium, where the Razorbacks went 34-4, was 311,828 this season.
Arkansas has faced all three opponents in its bracket at the College World Series, coming away with a 5-2 record against Florida, Texas and Texas Tech.
The Razorbacks combined to go 3-0 against Texas (2-0) and Texas Tech (1-0) and 2-2 against No. 1 seed Florida. Florida won two of three games in Gainesville, Fla., on March 23-25 and the Razorbacks won a winner's bracket game 8-2 against the Gators at the SEC Tournament.
Arkansas faces Texas at 1 p.m. Sunday at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., with Florida vs. Texas Tech at 6 p.m.
Arkansas went 0-3 against teams in the other bracket, with all three losses on the road at Mississippi State on April 20-21.
Home for a reason
Second-year Arkansas pitching coach Wes Johnson, a native of Sherwood, said he joined Dave Van Horn's staff with the specific intent of getting to the College World Series. He'll be making his first trip as a participating coach this week.
"This is why I came back home, man," Johnson said. "I told Coach Van Horn I wanted to come back to the state where I grew up and try to help him get a title. So now we're one step closer."
Sophomores Dominic Fletcher and Matt Cronin have accepted invitations to play for the USA Collegiate National team and will report to the team's training facility in Cary N.C., after the Razorbacks finish in the College World Series.
The national team, coached by LSU's Paul Mainieri, will face off against teams from China, Cuba and Japan this summer in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Arkansas catcher Grant Koch was on the national team last year and Coach Dave Van Horn has previously served as its head coach and as an assistant.
Cronin and Fletcher had been headed for the Cape Cod League, where they were going to be teammates with the Wareham Gatemen.
Arkansas took much drama out of Monday night's game with its five-run first inning against South Carolina, an accomplishment for which Coach Dave Van Horn thanked his players after the game.
"That was the plan," junior pitcher Kacey Murphy said. "That's what we knew we had to do, get to their arms really quick, because we knew they were kind of exhausted in the bullpen and we had some arms left."
Arkansas starter Isaiah Campbell approved of the massive runs support.
"It's awesome," he said. "When you have a lineup like ours that's so good one through nine and you get that type of run support, it's really big. You know you've just got to go out and throw strikes and this team will do the rest."
Right fielder Eric Cole caught the final out of Monday's 14-4 victory over South Carolina and he had special plans for the ball after tucking it in his back pocket while leaving the field.
He presented it to his father, Terry.
"He's been up here almost every week for my three years," Cole said. "So it means more to him to have that ball probably even more than it does to me."
South Carolina scored its first two runs on one wild pitch in the fourth inning. The pitch from Isaiah Campbell hit the dirt in front of South Carolina batter LT Tolbert, then appeared to glance of his pants leg or shin, though replays looked inconclusive.
Arkansas catcher Grant Koch did not pursue the loose ball to the backstop, thinking it was a dead ball, as Jonah Bride scored, then Justin Row wheeled all the way around from second base to touch home.
Coach Dave Van Horn argued that home plate umpire Billy Haze had signaled time out after Tolbert swung at the pitch. The umpiring crew huddled for a moment, but both runners were allowed to score.
"That was just some adversity," Campbell said. "You live with adversity in this game. When it happened, it was really weird, but I just didn't let it affect me. I kept doing my thing."
Josh Breaux, the Razorbacks' top-rated signee from McLennan (Texas) Community College, signed Tuesday with the New York Yankees according to MLB.com. Breaux, drafted with the No. 61 overall pick in the second round, reportedly signed for $1.5 million, 38 percent more than the slot value for his position, which Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said last week he expected to happen.
Breaux batted .404 with 18 home runs and 69 RBI as a sophomore and hit .401 with 19 home runs and 82 RBI as a freshman, while leading McClennan to the National Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.
South Carolina Coach Mark Kingston said reliever Eddy Demurias just had a tired arm and nothing more when he was pulled in the fifth inning Monday. A trainer came out to check on the right-hander's physical status. Demurias threw 60 pitches in 2 1/3 innings and allowed 5 earned runs while picking up his first loss of the season in Saturday's 9-3 setback. Demurias threw only five pitches and allowed a walk before being pulled Monday.
Sports on 06/13/2018
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