Benintendi likes Omaha's big park

Published: Friday, June 12, 2015
Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi, foreground, watches during batting practice Friday, June 12, 2015, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi, foreground, watches during batting practice Friday, June 12, 2015, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Arkansas star Andrew Benintendi has no doubt he can hit a ball out of TD Ameritrade Park. He has already done it.

The Razorbacks visited the cavernous stadium a month ago for a game against Creighton, and Benintendi homered to right field and had two other hits in a 6-2 victory.

Benintendi went deep several more times during the Razorbacks' College World Series practice on Friday. The Hogs play Virginia in the opener Saturday.

"I like it a lot," Benintendi said. "We played here earlier this year and I think that's a big advantage for us."

Benintendi on Friday was named winner of the Dick Howser Award as national player of the year. He and Miami's David Thompson enter the CWS having hit an NCAA-leading 19 homers apiece.

Benintendi is savoring the week. The center fielder and his teammates advanced to Omaha as a No. 2 regional seed, and on Monday he was the No. 7 overall pick by the Boston Red Sox in the Major League Baseball draft.

"It's been a humbling time, I guess I could say," he said. "I've had a lot of help to get where I am. I'm not doing this just for me but for everybody who has gotten me to where I am. I'm trying to soak it all in."

Benintendi has cooled off since coming out of the regular season batting .415 with 17 homers. He went 1 for 14 in the SEC tournament and is 5 for 19 in the NCAA tournament, dropping him to .380 for the season.

Hogs coach Dave Van Horn said Benintendi had difficulty dealing with the spotlight at the SEC tournament in Hoover, Alabama, especially after beating out the Nos. 1 and 2 overall draft picks, Vanderbilt's Dansby Swanson and LSU's Alex Bregman, for conference player of the year.

"He has to go walk around the lobby and see other guys who were right there, like Swanson and Bregman," Van Horn said. "That put a lot of pressure on him. Plus, he was only a sophomore. These guys are in their third year. He's only been out of high school two years. I think it did bother him.

"I saw him swinging at pitches out of the zone, which he normally doesn't do. Great player. Hopefully he'll relax and just enjoy this moment."

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