Weather threat postpones Hogs; Arkansas-Texas Tech game set for 11 a.m. today

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Arkansas players warm up Tuesday, June 19, 2018 before learning game eight of the NCAA Men's College World Series between Arkansas and Texas Tech was postponed at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas players warm up Tuesday, June 19, 2018 before learning game eight of the NCAA Men's College World Series between Arkansas and Texas Tech was postponed at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

OMAHA, Neb. -- Persistent storms claimed another game at the College World Series on Tuesday night.

Because of the threat of severe weather, officials elected Tuesday evening to postpone the winner's bracket game between Arkansas (45-19) and Texas Tech (45-18) until 11 a.m. today. The game is scheduled for broadcast on ESPN2.

The decision was made by NCAA officials at 6:04 p.m. -- shortly after Florida beat Texas 6-1 in an elimination game -- after consulting with a meteorologist, Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn and Texas Tech Coach Tim Tadlock.

"It's that time of the year with a lot of storms rolling around, especially in the Midwest it seems like," Van Horn said. "The radar was really bad. They've got a real advanced radar that we all went and looked at with their meteorologist, and he kind of explained it.

"There's a ton of lightning coming too, with the rain. It's a storm that they feel like there's no window. It's just gonna blow up and be here all the way through morning."

The TD Ameritrade Park grounds crew mowed and straightened up the field for more than an hour after the postponement was announced, and the tarp was rolled out at 7:25 p.m. Rain started at 8:10 p.m.

Van Horn said he was on board with the decision. Tadlock was not available for comment.

The first game Tuesday -- Mississippi State's 12-2 victory over North Carolina in a winner's bracket game -- had been postponed from Monday night due to a more than four-hour weather delay during Oregon State's 14-5 victory over Washington earlier in the day.

Left-hander Kacey Murphy (8-5, 3.12 ERA) is still expected to start for the Razorbacks, who will be the visiting team. Texas Tech announced junior right-hander Davis Martin (7-5, 4.50) would be its starter.

"We didn't want to get out there -- either coach -- and play an inning or two and have to shut it down, try to start it again, or sit around," Van Horn said. "They felt like sitting around would be a waste of time because of the way this storm is developing. So I'm good with it. It's just the way it is. It's the same for both teams. Let's go back to the hotel, come back here in the morning and try to get it done."

The Razorbacks have had to deal with delays, postponements and cancellations all season, including a weather-induced cancellation of an April 25 game against Texas Tech. The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville beat the Red Raiders 5-1 the previous day at Baum Stadium.

Martin did not pitch against the Razorbacks in the earlier game, but Arkansas has watched video of the 6-2 right-hander who was Texas Tech's opening day starter in 2017 and 2018.

"He's got a good arm," Van Horn said. "He's up to maybe 94-95 [mph], but mostly 90, 92. He throws a sinker with good sink, a lot of change-ups to lefties.

"It's like anything else. If you make him pitch up, you have a chance to hit him. If you swing at sinkers that are coming out of his hand low, they're going to be real low and you're going to be in for a little bit of trouble. We just have to have a good approach against him."

Martin has pitched 74 innings in 16 starts, meaning he averages about 4 2/3 innings per start for a team that has an excellent bullpen.

Severe weather already has caused delays of 7 hours and 20 minutes at the College World Series.

The Razorbacks' 11-5 victory over Texas experienced a 2-hour, 49-minute delay in the sixth inning, and the Oregon State-Washington game was delayed for 4 hours, 31 minutes, also in the sixth inning. The start of Tuesday morning's game was pushed back 15 minutes due to weather.

Players from Arkansas and Texas Tech took the field around 6 p.m. and began playing catch, and they continued for close to half an hour even after the postponement was announced.

"The guys wanted to get out there and at a minimum, once we told them, play a little catch and stretch and just move around a little bit," Van Horn said. "That's what they did."

The forecast for this morning calls for a 55 percent chance of thunderstorms at 11 a.m., escalating to 60 percent by noon, so the teams could be dealing with more disruptions.

"We've been through it a few times," Van Horn said. "You kind of learn how to handle it a little bit, just through experience. It's not a major ordeal. We're not going to sit here all night and play. ... It looks like we're going to battle rain tomorrow, too."

Still, Van Horn said the right decision was made.

"We would much rather feel like we have a better opportunity to play a complete game without stopping," he said. "You have a certain amount of pitchers that are available, and if you go out and throw your starter an inning or two and then that's it -- when maybe he could have given you five or six -- it's tough on everybody. It's probably the most fair way to go about it is to try to play tomorrow."

Sports on 06/20/2018

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