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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Hogs a different team late in the postseason

by Wally Hall | June 19, 2022 at 3:01 a.m.

Whatever happened to the Arkansas Razorbacks late in the season when they dropped six of eight games is gone.

Whatever caused them to drop in the polls and lose a chance to host a regional or super regional has left the field.

Ask the Stanford Cardinal, the highest-seeded team, No. 2, to advance to the College World Series.

Ask them if this was even close to the same team they beat 5-0 on Feb. 27, holding the Hogs to just three hits.

Ask them if they wish they had opened the College World Series with any team other than the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Ask the No. 4-ranked team in the country -- the highest ranked to make the Elite Eight of college baseball -- if they feel like they should have been ranked nine spots better than No. 13 Arkansas.

If they are honest, they will tell you they got slobber-knocked 17-2 by a dangerous team.

Stanford is good, very good.

The Cardinal took the scorching hot field yesterday with confidence, looking like they thought they would win and advance to face the winner of Auburn-Ole Miss, win that game and go on to win it all.

The Razorbacks took the field looking like they believed they were going to beat Stanford.

They looked fearless.

Like they were the Golden State Warriors and Stanford was the Boston Celtics.

Like they were the New York Yankees and everyone else wasn't.

On the first pitch of the game, center fielder Brandon Webb cranked one that carried halfway up the right-field wall that Cardinal outfielder Braden Montgomery banged into trying to chase down the missile that allowed Webb to slide into third with a triple.

Webb scored and Stanford tied it in the bottom of the first with a home run but then Arkansas' defense showed up big to support starting pitcher Connor Noland, turn key double plays and make tough plays into routine outs.

They played an errorless game, and if the Razorbacks belly up to a craps table, put your money on 5 and 9.

Since the postseason began, the Hogs have scored eight runs in the fifth inning and 16 in the ninth.

On Saturday, the Hogs opened the fifth inning with two straight passes, singles. After a strike out, Chris Lanzilli cleared the bases with a home run and the Hogs weren't finished.

They would add two more runs, and if the Cardinals weren't trying to regroup, they should have been.

Hitting with reckless abandon, the Hogs added three more runs in the seventh. Starting pitcher Noland was still handcuffing the Cardinal, finishing seven innings with just 67 pitches thrown, 50 of them strikes.

Noland pitched until there were two outs in the eighth, scattering six hits and allowing just one walk, and that was in his final inning.

For the day, he threw just 79 pitches and 55 were strikes.

The Razorbacks offense just wouldn't stop, getting 21 hits. Every starter had at least one with catcher Mike Turner banging out four.

Stanford was all out to get seven hits, five of them singles. They went through six pitchers who threw a total of 212 pitches to 97 for the Hogs.

Just a few weeks ago, this Razorback baseball team was pretty much written off by everyone but its Hog wild fans.

If something could go wrong, it went wrong in a hurry.

Coach Dave Van Horn never panicked.

He circled the wagons and gave his players room to grow and get on with playing the game they all love.

The Razorbacks have won six of the past seven games, and they play Monday night at 6 p.m. in the winner's bracket.

Print Headline: Hogs a different team late in the postseason


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