NCAA COLLEGE WORLD SERIES ARKANSAS VS. FLORIDA:

Hogs' approach: Nothing done yet

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, June 22, 2018
Luke Bonfield Thursday, June 21, 2018, during Arkansas practice at the Creighton practice field in Omaha, Neb.
Photo by Ben Goff
Luke Bonfield Thursday, June 21, 2018, during Arkansas practice at the Creighton practice field in Omaha, Neb.

OMAHA, Neb. -- Some of the first words out of the mouth of Dave Van Horn to his Arkansas Razorbacks after Wednesday night's 7-4 victory over Texas Tech were, "We haven't done anything yet."

The Razorbacks are 2-0 and in the driver's seat of Bracket 2 at the College World Series after downing the Red Raiders in the winner's bracket.

Arkansas (46-19) needs just one victory in the bracket finals to advance to the championship series. Their opponent, Florida — which defeated Texas Tech 9-6 in Thursday’s elimination game at TD Ameritrade Park — will have to beat the Hogs twice to take a spot in the finals.

"It's where you want to be," Van Horn said after Thursday's practice at Creighton University. "But 3-0 is better."

Outfielder Eric Cole summed up the Razorbacks' situation Wednesday night, saying, "Being in the winner's bracket in this is such a big deal. Coach Van Horn just harped to us that he's been 2-0 here before and it hasn't ended up well. He just kind of told us don't look ahead.

"Next game on the schedule is either with that really good Tech team or a really good Florida team. ... You can't look ahead at all and just be glad we're sitting in a good position."

Second baseman Carson Shaddy would not even address a question about what reaching the championship series would mean.

"We can't be happy with what we've done so far," Shaddy said. "We're just 2-0. That doesn't mean that we've done anything yet. It's put us in a good spot. We can't get comfortable."

Sophomore outfielder Dominic Fletcher, coming off the first four-hit, four-RBI performance in a CWS game at TD Ameritrade Park, was asked the mindset the Razorbacks will take in the hours leading up to today's 7 p.m. game.

"Just like every other game," Fletcher said. "We're not out here to just win two and then lose out. We're not done yet and we're ready to go tomorrow. We're out here to win."

Catcher Grant Koch said late Wednesday that he thinks the team will maintain the same approach it took into games against Texas and Texas Tech.

"We know that if we lose a game at any point -- today, the first game -- we're one game away from going home, so I think that's what we're striving for," Koch said. "We just want to play one more game with this group of guys and see how long we can last."

Fletcher said he didn't have a preference over which team the Razorbacks face next.

"We're not really worried about what team we play," Fletcher said. "We're mostly worried about ourselves. If we play our game, then we'll end up winning."

Van Horn has hammered home what happened to the Hogs in 2012. The Razorbacks downed Kent State 8-1 and South Carolina 2-1 to reach the bracket finals, but the two-time defending CWS champion Gamecocks came back and eliminated the Hogs with 2-0 and 3-2 victories.

"In '12 we could really pitch, we just didn't score a lot of runs and that's what got us in the end," Van Horn said. "We won a couple of close games and lost two close games. ... Had runners on, just didn't drive them in. We've got to take advantage of opportunities and score when we get that opportunity."

These Razorbacks have taken advantage of their opportunities to a large extent. They are hitting .332 (92 of 277) in eight NCAA Tournament games and have taken it up a notch to .360 (27 of 75) at the CWS.

The Hogs have scored 70 runs in eight NCAA Tournament games, an average of 8.75 runs per game against elite teams.

"We knew we had this in us the whole year," junior pitcher Kacey Murphy said. "I mean it's kind of expected for this team to finally get that burst of momentum, something like that. It couldn't have come at a better time."

Arkansas is 4-2 against the Gators and Red Raiders, having split four games against the defending national champion Florida and going 2-0 against Texas Tech.

"Whoever we play, they're awfully good," Van Horn said. "I mean, I don't know who we're gonna play, but they both are strong all the way around. It really doesn't matter who we play. We've just got to find a way to beat them."

Sports on 06/22/2018

At a glance

THURSDAY’S GAMES

Florida 9, Texas Tech 6

Texas Tech eliminated.

TODAY’S GAMES All times Central

Mississippi State vs. Oregon State, 2 p.m.

Arkansas vs. Florida, 7 p.m.

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