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story.lead_photo.caption Dominic Fletcher, Arkansas center fielder, Thursday, June 21, 2018, during Arkansas practice at the Creighton practice field in Omaha, Neb. - Photo by Ben Goff

OMAHA, Neb. -- Dominic Fletcher has had a start to remember at the College World Series.

The Arkansas center fielder became the first player with four hits and four RBI in a game since the CWS moved to TD Ameritrade Park in 2011 during the Hogs' 7-4 victory over Texas Tech on Wednesday.

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Fletcher is 6 for 9 (.667) in Omaha, with 6 RBI and a run scored.

"It was good," Fletcher said. "I enjoyed it last night. We got the win. Then you wake up and it's a new day and a fresh slate and you just forget all about it."

Fletcher said it was "awesome" to be the first CWS player with four hits and four RBI in a game since 2008, "but we're out here to win and we don't really look at individual stats. I'm just trying to do everything I can to help the team win."

Campbell's time

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn was asked after the team's workout at Creighton University on Thursday if Blaine Knight could start tonight.

"Nah, he needs a little more rest," Van Horn said, adding that sophomore right-hander Isaiah Campbell was the choice to start. "You know, if we were in dire straits, then we might just say [Campbell] give us a couple of innings, we'll go with Blaine a couple of innings, piece it together. But you know he deserves to pitch. He pitched good in the super regional. He's the freshest arm. He's one of our best arms. It's his time."

Van Horn said Campbell's start in the super regional against South Carolina was about "I'm going to prove you wrong, I can pitch.

"Just a lot of want-to there, so to speak. He attacked it. He didn't pitch timid. I think in a couple of other starts he was a little nervous and timid and wasn't letting it go and didn't command much. That last start was pretty good."

MLB in Omaha

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was in Omaha on Thursday to announce that the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers will play at TD Ameritrade Park, the day before the opening ceremonies of the CWS next year. It will be the first MLB game played in Nebraska.

There had been speculation all week in Omaha that a game could be afoot as NCAA and MLB officials have been seen as working more closely together.

Manfred attended a 2 p.m. news conference at the park, along with Royals General Manager Dayton Moore and Tigers General Manager Al Avila to set the June 13 game.

SEC 1-2-3

The SEC had three of the final five teams remaining at the CWS prior to the Florida-Texas Tech elimination game Thursday night.

Arkansas and Mississippi State were the 2-0 teams from the two brackets, assuring the SEC would have at least half of the final four teams alive. It is the fourth time two teams from the same conference started 2-0 at the series.

The Bulldogs followed Arkansas on the Creighton practice field Thursday and Coach Dave Van Horn was asked if he would stick around to watch the Bulldogs practice.

"Nah, we've seen them plenty," Van Horn said.

The strength of the SEC was on display with four of the top eight national seeds and the showing at the CWS.

"We talked about it on the bus on the way over here," Van Horn said. "It doesn't surprise us any. There's a couple other in our league that could have been here, too, if they could just find a way to get through or they weren't matched up against each other. It was a plus-plus year talent-wise and team-wise in the SEC."

Feisty first

Arkansas has scored runs in the first inning of its last three NCAA Tournament games: 5 vs. South Carolina on June 11, 1 vs. Texas on Sunday and 2 vs. Texas Tech on Wednesday.

"That's our game," center fielder Dominic Fletcher said. "We'll jump on a pitcher early and put up some big innings. That's our lineup, up and down."

The Razorbacks have had multiple big innings in the postseason as well, with an 8-run outburst against Texas, a 7-run inning against Southern Miss, a pair of 5-run innings against South Carolina and a 4-run inning against the Gamecocks.

"There's not really any breaks for the pitcher to say, 'OK, I want to pitch to this guy,'" Fletcher said. "There's no one really he wants to pitch to in our lineup, so that can happen, scoring a lot of runs in an inning."

Blue Raiders

The Arkansas pitching staff has had great success this season against Texas Tech. In their two games, the Hogs have limited the Red Raiders to a .159 batting average and 2.5 runs per game.

In all other games, Texas Tech is hitting .313 and averaging 8.4 runs per game.

The Red Raiders stuck out in 20.1 percent of their at-bats in their 52 other games but struck out on 49.2 percent of their at-bats against the Razorbacks.

Rusty Matt

Arkansas pitching coach Wes Johnson attributed closer Matt Cronin's shaky ninth inning against Texas Tech to a bit of rust, coupled with a long stretch of not pitching in tight situations.

Cronin allowed 2 runs on 2 hits and a walk while posting the last 4 outs of the Hogs' 7-4 victory over Texas Tech on Wednesday. His last outing had been one inning to close out Arkansas' 14-4 victory over South Carolina in Game 3 of the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional on June 11, nine days earlier. His last work with a game on the line came when he closed out the Razorbacks' 4-3 victory over Dallas Baptist on June 3 to clinch the regional at Baum Stadium.

"The guy was rusty," Johnson said. "We hadn't thrown him in quite a while. And when we did throw him, you look back to that super regional game, it was the last time he's thrown against South Carolina and obviously the game was in control. So he really hasn't been in a tough environment in a while."

Johnson said he's glad Cronin pitched in the 14-4 rout of South Carolina.

"Matt was taking the ball in the ninth. He had to get some work in. You can't keep holding him back. He has to get his work in."

Gator grief

Florida second baseman Blake Reese had a ground ball go under his glove in the first inning of Thursday's elimination game against Texas Tech. It marked the 10th error of the NCAA Tournament for the Gators, whose defense has fallen off late in the year.

Delay stats

The total delay time of 11 hours in the CWS is approaching record proportions. That delay time is more than the previous seven series combined.

A chart in Thursday's edition of the Omaha World-Herald showed the delay time of 660 hours is easily the most since 2004, with the next closest being 408 hours in 2010.

In five years -- 2004, 2005, 2007, 2012 and 2017 -- there were no delays.

The total rain in Omaha has been recorded at more than 3 inches since Sunday.

The World-Herald reported that Oregon State freshman Joe Casey did a "30 bubble gum piece challenge" and managed to stuff that many pieces of gum in his mouth during one of the delays.

Around the horn

• Arkansas is now 46-14 against Texas Tech.

• The Razorbacks worked through a light rain Thursday while taking morning batting practice at Creighton University in downtown Omaha.

• Current averages for the top five Razorbacks hitters: Casey Martin .346, Heston Kjerstad .346, Carson Shaddy .343, Eric Cole .328, Luke Bonfield .306.

Sports on 06/22/2018

Print Headline: Fletcher a hot hitter in Omaha

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