Arkansas Razorback fans, frankly, have earned a right to unlimited psychotherapy. What happened in America’s heartland Wednesday night was heartbreaking, and it cannot be reduced to a popup in foul ground.
The Hogs were clinging to a 3-2 lead and Oregon State had a season-saving run 90 feet away when Cadyn Grenier lofted what appeared to be a reasonably routine fly into TD Ameritrade Park’s spacious foul territory. It was almost perfectly placed for a game-, series- and title-winning third out, as first baseman Jared Gates, second baseman Carson Shaddy and right fielder Eric Cole all darted alertly toward the opportunity to secure a baseball that, once caught, would be a historical memento for a program that has won a lot of games but fallen achingly shy of establishing a championship pedigree.
The ball landed with a crowd-deflating thud right behind
Grenier grounded a clean RBI single to left to tie it, and it was evident that the psychological toll of the preceding minutes was heavy on Cronin. Facing the Beavers’ best slugger, Trevor Larnach, Cronin tossed a lifeless 91 mph fastball into the outfielder’s hot zone and he crushed it into the
The popout that wasn’t will assuredly be the play that haunts fans, coaches and players for some time if Arkansas cannot speedily recover tonight for Game 3. But in full disclosure, Arkansas was one strike away from winning two games in which its
If Isaiah Campbell thought he faced pressure trying to take down defending champion Florida in a semifinal last Friday, he’s about to step into a completely different pressure cooker for the last game of 2018. Oregon State hasn’t set the world afire but the PAC-12 champions were prohibitive
And therein lies the Hogs’ hope: Beavers coach Pat Casey leaned so heavily on three relievers the past two nights — Christian Chamberlain, Brandon Eisert and Kevin Abel were all individually and collectively effective, but also pushed to the brink on pitch counts — so tonight will be the very definition of a war of attrition. That
And to be honest, they’ve just not been quite as sharp in Omaha, even in amassing four wins and being agonizingly close to a fifth. The power bats have disappeared as Shaddy, Cole, Martin and Heston Kjerstad have yet to flex their home run muscles in Nebraska after popping a combined 55 long ones through the regular season and regional and Super Regional play. If Arkansas has a chance to turn back an incompressible and sickening twist of fate tonight, it likely rests on the hitters’ abilities to have short memories and reborn swagger, and assuredly on Campbell’s big right arm.