Hogs on parade: 10 in a row reach in 8-run inning as Arkansas beats Texas

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Monday, June 18, 2018
Nate Thompson, Arkansas assistant coach, congratulates Luke Bonfield as he rounds thrid after hitting a two-run homer in the 5th inning vs Texas Sunday, June 17, 2018, during game three of the NCAA Men's College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
Photo by Ben Goff
Nate Thompson, Arkansas assistant coach, congratulates Luke Bonfield as he rounds thrid after hitting a two-run homer in the 5th inning vs Texas Sunday, June 17, 2018, during game three of the NCAA Men's College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

OMAHA, Neb. -- Heston Kjerstad rammed Texas first baseman Jake McKenzie, then the Arkansas Razorbacks shoved the Longhorns around TD Ameritrade Park on Sunday.

The No. 5 seed Razorbacks ripped Texas 11-5 with a 15-hit attack in a game delayed for 2 hours, 49 minutes by weather in their opener at the College World Series before a crowd of 23,034.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (45-19) advanced to the winner's bracket game on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against Texas Tech, who defeated No. 1 overall seed Florida 6-3 on Sunday. The Longhorns (42-22) will play Florida in an elimination game Tuesday at 1 p.m.

Arkansas is 3-0 against Texas this season and 2-2 against the Longhorns at the CWS.

The Razorbacks took a 3-2 lead on Luke Bonfield's two-run home run in the fifth inning, then broke the game open with an eight-run sixth to move ahead 11-2.

Ten consecutive Razorbacks reached base in the sixth -- five before the delay, then five more afterward.

"It was awesome," said Arkansas center fielder Dominic Fletcher, who had a two-run single in the sixth. "We had two walks right before the rain delay, then we came out and just pounded a bunch of hits in a row.

"It just shows everyone what we can do, without even making an out."

Junior Blaine Knight (13-0) tied the school record for victories in a season by allowing 2 runs on 4 hits in 81 pitches through 5 innings.

"Blaine just kept getting them out," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "I think he would tell you that he didn't have his best stuff, but he really compared hard."

Kjerstad went 3 for 5 with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI and set the tone in the fifth inning with the Longhorns ahead 2-1 after beating out a potential double play ball that went awry on the throw to first. Kjerstad hustled back to the bag when the Longhorns thought he had committed to second and barreled into McKenzie, knocking him to the ground.

"Going into first, I was going full speed and he was on the back side of the bag, and I tried to brace myself going into first on him and he ended up falling over," Kjerstad said.

Bonfield followed three pitches later with a two-run shot two rows beyond the left-field wall, his ninth of the season and the first of the College World Series.

"Heston hustling down the line was huge for us," Bonfield said. "If he doesn't beat that ball out, inning's over and I never get the opportunity to put us ahead."

Bonfield said Texas starter Nolan Kingham (8-5) threw him a sinker for a swinging strike and a slider away before the action pitch.

"He left a sinker up, and I put a good swing on it," Bonfield said. "I wasn't quite sure it was going out. I knew I hit it well, but you never know with this stadium and with the wind and everything."

Said Van Horn: "The big swing of the day was Luke Bonfield. We went from down 2-1 to up 3-2 and it happened with two outs."

The Razorbacks had scored seven runs in the third inning of a 13-4 victory over the Longhorns earlier this year, which had been Texas' previous high for runs allowed in an inning.

"Arkansas is a great hitting team," Kingham said. "They found a lot of barrels today, and I left a few mistakes up and they hammered it."

Arkansas held Texas slugger Kody Clemens to a 1 for 5 night, making him 3 for 13 against the Razorbacks this season.

Jared Gates went 3 for 5 to continue his reputation as Mr. June for Arkansas, and Eric Cole, Kjerstad and Bonfield scored two runs apiece. Seven Arkansas starters drove in runs and eight scored runs. The Razorbacks had a hit in all eight innings in which they batted.

Texas Coach David Pierce called on six pitchers in the sixth inning. All but the final two gave up runs.

Carson Shaddy and Gates opened the inning with singles, then Grant Koch and Jax Biggers drew walks against ace closer Parker Joe Robinson, who had not walked back-to-back batters all year. Cole drew a second bases-loaded walk in a row to give Arkansas a 5-2 lead before the delay was called.

Texas tried starter Chase Shugart after the rain delay, but he gave up a run-scoring hit to Casey Martin, a two-run base hit to Kjerstad, and he hit Bonfield with a pitch before being lifted.

"Hindsight is a beautiful thing," Pierce said. "You look back at that and you would really say, 'Should have stuck with Nolan.' And it just unraveled.

"We tried to get it settled down with Chase right there and finish the inning and just, again, they just continued to hit and created a huge deficit."

Cole doubled to open the game and scored the first run on Kjerstad's RBI single to left field on an 0-2 count.

Texas tied it in the third on a triple by eight-hole batter Tate Shaw, who went 3 for 3, followed by Ryan Reynolds' RBI ground ball to Knight toward the first-base bag.

The Longhorns grabbed a 2-1 lead against Knight in the fifth. Masen Hibbeler and Shaw led off the inning with singles, then Reynolds sacrificed them to second and third. David Hamilton's sacrifice fly made it 2-1 before Knight struck Duke Ellis out looking to finish the frame.

"You look up and we've got six hits and one run, and you start to get a little nervous as a coach because you feel like you're leaving some opportunities out there," Van Horn said.

The Razorbacks capitalized on those opportunities in the sixth to turn the game into a rout.

Sports on 06/18/2018


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