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Yurachek a big fan of Omaha

by Bob Holt | June 13, 2022 at 2:56 a.m.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- University of Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek joked with baseball Coach Dave Van Horn following the Razorbacks' 4-3 victory over North Carolina on Sunday to win the NCAA Chapel Hill Super Regional.

It is the third time in Yurachek's five baseball seasons at Arkansas that the Razorbacks advanced to the College World Series.

"I told Dave after the game you're spoiling the heck out of me," Yurachek said. "I've been to Omaha now three years, we've been to a super regional one year and we had covid in a fifth year.

"It's exciting to go there. This will be our 11th appearance as a program. We haven't won that thing, and I think there's an opportunity for this team to enjoy what they just accomplished by getting to Omaha, but go and win this doggone thing."

Van Horn and Yurachek walked away from a team huddle together before Van Horn embraced his family on the field.

"I told him I was really excited that he got to see that and be here," Van Horn said.

Arkansas had a large group of fans in Chapel Hill after it sold its allotment of 600 tickets. Several others got into the ballpark through other means, either connections at North Carolina or on the secondary market.

Yurachek sat in the stands with fans throughout the two games.

"You think back to [the regional at] Oklahoma State, or even here with the limited number of tickets we had, I felt like our fans did an incredible job of giving us an advantage in an away venue, if that's even possible this time of year," Yurachek said.

"I enjoyed the heck out of it."

Thousands of Arkansas fans are expected later this week in Omaha, Neb., where the Razorbacks' games in 2018 and 2019 often resembled home games. Omaha is about 420 miles from Fayetteville.

"The last time we were in that championship game up in Omaha, I think everybody remembers it was 75% Razorback fans," Yurachek said. "I think our fans, and especially those that can drive, are so hungry to see this baseball team play in person and whenever we play Saturday there is going to be an electric Razorback crowd there. It's going to be exciting to see."

Lightning strikes

Two lightning delays Sunday lasted almost as long as the Arkansas Razorbacks' victory over North Carolina.

The game lasted 3 hours and 9 minutes. The two delays were a combined 2 hours and 54 minutes.

"The game was amazing," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "Both teams were strong mentally. They just hung in there through the two lightning delays and frustrations.

"The game starts at 1 o'clock [Eastern time]. It's not supposed to finish at 7 o'clock, whatever time it is [7:21 Eastern time]."

The delays resulted from lightning strikes within a 10-mile radius of Boshamer Stadium.

The first delay happened at 1:44 p.m. Eastern after the second inning had been completed and there was no score.

Play resumed at 3:30 p.m. after a delay of 1 hour and 46 minutes.

The second delay was at 5:22 p.m. with North Carolina -- the visiting team after being the home team in Saturday's game -- batting with one out in the top of the eighth inning and no one on base.

Arkansas starter Will McEntire came back to pitch after the first delay and went 52/3 scoreless innings.

"I've honestly had experience before," McEntire, a sophomore from Bryant, said of pitching after the delay. "I've done it two times I remember in high school.

"I just knew exactly how to keep myself ready in that situation."

The Tar Heels were impressed by McEntire, who allowed 3 hits and 1 walk with 4 strikeouts.

"I thought he had good stuff today," North Carolina center fielder Vance Honeycutt said. "Kudos to him."

McEntire threw 47 strikes on 73 pitches.

"He had his pitches working today," Tar Heels shortstop Danny Serretti said. "It was tough to score all weekend and that is a credit to them."

The Razorbacks held the Tar Heels to four runs, including Arkansas' 4-1 victory on Saturday.

No Game 2 blues

The second game of NCAA Tournament three-game series hadn't been kind to Arkansas.

That wasn't the case on Sunday when the Razorbacks rallied to beat North Carolina with two runs in the ninth inning.

Prior to Sunday, Arkansas had lost the second game of a super regional or College World Series five consecutive times after winning the opener.

The Game 2 streak included Arkansas losing:

• To Missouri State 3-1 in the 2015 Fayetteville Super Regional

• To South Carolina 8-5 in the 2018 Fayetteville Super Regional

• To Oregon State 5-3 in the 2018 College World Series finals

• To Ole Miss 13-5 in 2019 the Fayetteville Super Regional

• To North Carolina State 6-5 in last year's Fayetteville Super Regional.

Prior to Sunday, Arkansas had last won a Game 2 of an NCAA Tournament three-game series when the Razorbacks beat Baylor 5-4 in the Waco Super Regional in 2012 after losing 8-1 in the opener. They then beat the Bears 1-0 in 10 innings in Game 3 to make the College World Series.

DVH in Omaha again

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn will take a ninth team to the College World Series, which is two more than any other active coach.

Van Horn is the 13th college baseball coach with nine College World Series appearances, tying Pete Butler of Northern Colorado (1941-67) and Frank Sancet of Arizona (1950-72).

At Nebraska, Van Horn coached the Cornhuskers to the College World Series in 2001 and 2002. He was hired at Arkansas in 2003 and has taken the Razorbacks to Omaha seven times -- in 2004, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2018, 2019 and this year.

Van Horn is one of two coaches with at least nine College World Series appearances while coaching two teams. Augie Garrido's 15 total appearances included seven at Cal State Fullerton and eight at Texas.

Hitting 100

Braydon Webb's home run in the fifth inning gave Arkansas 100 for the season. The Razorbacks are the 19th NCAA Division I team to hit at least 100 home runs.

It was the 15th home run for Webb, a senior center fielder, to tie for the team lead. Brady Slavens and Cayden Wallace also have 15 home runs.

Ramage ties Kopps

Senior Kole Ramage made his 92nd career appearance for the Razorbacks when he replaced starter Will McEntire with two outs in the top of the sixth inning.

Ramage tied Kevin Kopps for the Arkansas record for most appearances.

Change at third

North Carolina sophomore infielder Johnny Castagnozzi played his first game at third base for the Tar Heels on Sunday as an emergency replacement for Mac Horvath.

Horvath, a sophomore, wasn't available to play after he underwent an appendectomy Saturday night, according to a North Carolina news release.

Castagnozzi made his 83rd start in two seasons at North Carolina, but the previous 82 at been at second base or first base.

Horvath hit .268 with 18 home runs and 53 RBI in 63 starts this season. He was 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts in Saturday's game, then began feeling ill and was hospitalized.

Castangnozzi came into Sunday's game batting .261 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI. He went 0 for 3.

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