Bonfield caps career at Baum in style

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Luke Bonfield singles to right field in Arkansas' 14-4 win over South Carolina Monday June 11, 2018 during the NCAA Super Regional at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Luke Bonfield singles to right field in Arkansas' 14-4 win over South Carolina Monday June 11, 2018 during the NCAA Super Regional at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Luke Bonfield smiled ear to ear as he removed his helmet and stepped into Arkansas’ dugout one last time.

Bonfield had just grounded out in his final at-bat at Baum Stadium, but his jog from first base back across the infield allowed the crowd of more than 11,200 to give the senior a standing ovation.

The Skillman, N.J., native capped his home career by going 3-for-4 with 4 RBI in Arkansas’ 14-4 Super Regional win over South Carolina. The win sends the Razorbacks to their ninth College World Series and first since 2015 when Bonfield was a freshman.

Bonfield recorded RBI singles in the first and second innings, contributing a pair of runs as Arkansas jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead. The two hits marked his first multi-hit game since the SEC Tournament opener against the Gamecocks, a 13-8 Arkansas win.

“It was a big relief for me because I didn’t have that great of a night last night,” Bonfield said of his 1-for-5 performance in Game 2 of the super regional. “They were throwing me away all series long and I was pulling off the ball trying to do too much probably. I stuck with a good approach and was able to put some good swings on it and help my team win.”

Bonfield struggled much of the regional round against Oral Roberts, Southern Miss and Dallas Baptist. Arkansas’ clean-up hitter finished with just two hits in 12 at-bats in those games and entered Monday 2-for-8 against South Carolina the previous two days.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn lauded Bonfield after Monday’s win, calling on his “blue collar” work ethic and “professional” approach at the plate.

“Luke could probably hit 15-18 home runs and hit .220. But he’s hitting .300 and driving in enough runs,” Van Horn said. “He battles and sees a lot of pitches and bothers pitchers. He’s been a little up and down, but he had a great night.

“I just think Luke shows up with the same mindset every day. He comes to work. After tonight, I’d say he’s hot. ... I see the same Luke every day and I think that’s what his teammates see.”

In the fourth inning, Bonfield’s sacrifice fly to center field scored Eric Cole and pushed Arkansas’ edge to 8-2. The senior later singled home Casey Martin to put the exclamation point on a five-run fifth inning that put the Razorbacks ahead 13-2.

Right fielder Eric Cole, who made the final out near the warning track in right field and passed the ball on to his father, Terry, said he got chills as fans shouted Bonfield’s name and gave him a standing ovation in the home eighth.

“He’s had one of the best careers of anyone at Arkansas,” Cole said of Bonfield. “The numbers may not show, or the draft may not show, but he’s a fan favorite. He’s out here talking to fans every day. He’s huge for this community.

“Coming from Jersey – a long way away – and not knowing much about the SEC ... I’m so happy for him.”

Of Bonfield’s night, Martin added, “To see him pick it up in today’s game when we really needed him, it’s big time.

“It shows what type of player he is.”

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