OMAHA, Neb. -- As painful as Oregon State winning the College World Series against the University of Arkansas baseball team last year was for the Razorbacks, they're now are using the Beavers' improbable title run through the loser's bracket as inspiration.
Oregon State won the 2018 national championship after opening the College World Series with an 8-6 loss to North Carolina.
The Razorbacks are hoping to duplicate that feat after Florida State beat them 1-0 on Saturday night.
After losing to FSU when the Seminoles scored the game's only run in the ninth inning, Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn reminded his players of what Oregon State did.
"That was the first thing I said, that Oregon State lost last year and they came back through the loser's bracket," Van Horn said. "Then I quickly flipped it to, the way they did it is they worried about the next game."
Arkansas plays Texas Tech at 1 p.m. today in an elimination game at TD Ameritrade Park.
"That's all you can worry about," Van Horn said. "You start letting your mind wander and thinking, 'Whoa, we have to do this, this, this to get to the championship series'... You can't think about the championship series.
"You have to think about [this] afternoon. Hopefully, they will."
Arkansas is attempting to be the 13th team to win the College Word Series after losing the first game.
The first team to do it was Texas in 1950. Southern California did it four times in 1958, 1963, 1970 and 1998. Arizona did it in 1976 and 1980 and Arizona State did it in 1969.
Cal State-Fullerton did it in 1979 when the Titans beat Arkansas in the last two games 13-10 and 2-1.
Oregon State also did it in 2006. South Carolina is the only SEC team that has done it, in 2010.
"You look back on that and you just have to fight," Arkansas sophomore catcher Casey Opitz said drawing inspiration from Oregon State. "The teams that get comfortable in the winner's bracket, they don't always stick around there.
"The teams that kind of give up after that first loss, they go home. We're not going to do that. We're going to come out, we're going to be ready to go, we're going to be fine."
The Razorbacks appeared to be loose and having fun during their practice Sunday at a local high school.
When Opitz -- a switch hitter whose three home runs have all come when he batted left-handed -- hit a shot over the center-field fence batting right-handed, his teammates cheered wildly.
"We just don't dwell on it," Opitz said of the FSU loss. "The sun came out today.
"It's not the end of the world. It's baseball. It's what's going to happen. We just move on.
"We don't want [today] to be our last game. We want to keep playing with each other, so that's what we're going to play for."
Junior center fielder Dominic Fletcher said the Razorbacks want to be relaxed.
"I think our best baseball is played when we're loose, when we're not tight," Fletcher said. "I think that's one of the key factors to our team making it here to Omaha."
Van Horn said he told his players to have fun Sunday afternoon and evening.
"I think we'll be fine," Van Horn said. "It's really about how is your mind working. You've got to move. You've got to realize, 'Hey, you're still here in Omaha.'
"I told the guys after practice to go back, take a shower, go downtown and look around. Go through some of the [sales] tents and try and be a fan a little bit."
Van Horn told the players it would be "real cool" to attend Sunday night's Auburn-Mississippi State game.
"Just walk through the crowd," Van Horn said of his message. "Be at the game for a few innings and just feel what they're a part of so they don't walk away without that -- win or lose. So, hopefully they'll do that."
Sports on 06/17/2019
Print Headline: Hogs pin hopes on loser's bracket run