Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
College World Series report:
Hogs sting ace Singer once again
Arkansas designated hitter Luke Bonfield, left, contends he was interfered with while home plate umpire Travis Katzenmeier, center, and Florida pitcher Brady Singer look on during a College World Series game Friday, June 22, 2018, in Omaha, Neb.
OMAHA, Neb. -- Florida ace Brady Singer has 10 losses during his three college seasons and three of them are to the University of Arkansas Fayetteville starting trio of Blaine Knight, Kacey Murphy and Isaiah Campbell in the past 13 months.
The most damaging of those losses came Friday night against Campbell, as the Razorbacks worked Singer for 4 runs on 7 hits and 1 walk in 89 pitches over 5 innings during a 5-2 victory that clinched Bracket 2 and sent Arkansas to the College World Series championship series.
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn was asked what it was about his hitters that has given Singer trouble. The first-round pick by the Kansas City Royals has an 0-3 record and 11.93 ERA in 4 appearances against the Hogs.
"He's out of our league now. He's gone, we don't have to face him again?" Van Horn said, prompting laughter in the postgame news conference.
"You know, our left-handed hitters have really done well against him for the most part. Tonight a couple of the righties did it.
"Really, it's just to see his slider up. Easier said than done. When you get his fastball, don't miss it. But when he's rolling, he gets you to swing at that slider. ... We've done a good job over the last two or three times we've faced him of not going out of the zone too much. And we've hit some balls on the nose."
Singer said he could have executed his pitches better on Friday, but that the Razorbacks were hot.
"I mean, they're one of the best offensive teams I've ever faced," he said. "I feel like in a career, a lot of teams will do that to certain people. Sometimes you're just unlucky. But they're one of the best offensive teams I've ever faced, if not the best.
"I think they're ultra-aggressive. I threw some pitches, but they capitalized on the bad ones. That's what a good hitting team does."
The Hogs knocked Singer for 8 earned runs on 7 hits in an inning plus 3 batters in the 2017 SEC Tournament. Murphy threw a two-hit shutout in that game, won 16-0 by the Razorbacks in seven innings.
Knight beat Singer 6-3 on March 23 in Gainesville, Fla. Knight allowed 3 runs on 5 hits in 62/3 innings in that game, while Singer gave up 6 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks in 7 innings.
Florida Coach Kevin O'Sullivan said he didn't think Singer pitched terribly.
"He made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on it," he said. "I think the first inning they ran his pitch count up close to 30 pitches, and I don't think it has as much to do with Brady as it does their offense."
The Arkansas Razorbacks earned themselves their first off day at the College World Series on Saturday after claiming a spot in the CWS finals with a 5-2 victory over defending champion Florida late Friday.
Arkansas will be back at it with a practice today, as well as news conferences with Dave Van Horn and a couple of players.
Arkansas forced Florida starter Brady Singer to throw 29 pitches in the first inning, assuring he would not last deep into Friday's game, and the key to the one-run inning was Luke Bonfield's 10-pitch at-bat. Bonfield fouled off five pitches in the lengthy battle before guiding a single into right-center field to score Casey Martin from second.
"Singer was busting me in with fastballs and then sliders he was throwing away to me all day long," Bonfield said. "So I kept on fighting off fastballs in. When he makes his pitch on a fastball it's hard to keep it fair and hit it hard, so I was just fighting, fighting and trying to hit something in play, trying to find a hole and get that runner in. Then he hung a slider to me. I stayed on it and fortunately found some grass and hit it hard."
Short and sweet
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn was asked if he made a pregame speech like a Knute Rockne of old. Van Horn said if it took a speech to fire up his team at the College World Series then maybe they were in the wrong place.
"All I said was, 'I don't care if they've got the best player in the SEC. I don't care if they've got the best pitcher in the SEC. We've got a good team and let's take it to them,'" Van Horn said. "That's all I said. And they liked it."
Oregon State scored 37 runs in the three games prior to its Bracket 1 elimination game against Mississippi State on Saturday, notching a 14-5 win over Washington, an 11-6 victory over North Carolina and a 12-2 victory over Mississippi State. The Beavers were averaging 10.8 runs per game at the CWS and led the series with a .377 batting average. Arkansas, with a .330 average, is the only other team hitting better than .300 in Omaha.
One of the top Arkansas football players reached across sports to compliment the speed of freshman Casey Martin, who used it to help produce a couple of runs in Friday's 5-2 victory over Florida.
Junior linebacker De'Jon Harris posted on his Twitter account late Friday, "I know Casey Martin clocking a 4.45 or under in the forty. This man be moving out there fr [for real]!"
Martin raced home from second on Luke Bonfield's two-out single in the first, sprinted in from third and scored with a head-first slide on Bonfield's chopper to third base in the fifth, then beat out a dribbler to second for an RBI single in the sixth.
"I thought Casey Martin had an incredible game," Coach Dave Van Horn said. "Scores three runs, knocks in another one. One of the runs he scored, he used his instincts and speed on that chopper. That was a huge run at the time for us."
Florida Coach Kevin O'Sullivan, who is one of Dave Van Horn's better friends in the business, had very complimentary words for Van Horn and the Hogs late Friday.
"Oh yeah, I have the utmost respect for Dave," O'Sullivan said. "I consider him to be a really good friend. I told him at the end I wished him the best of luck. He said he might give me a call over the next couple of days, maybe for some advice or questions.
"But I really do like playing Arkansas because they're always well coached. They play extremely well. It's almost as if we're playing ourselves."
Arkansas right fielder Eric Cole and second baseman Carson Shaddy made two of the top 10 plays on ESPN's SportsCenter overnight Friday.
Shaddy ranged to his right to field a smash up the middle from Will Dalton, planted behind the second base bag and wheeled to fire to first base for the first out of the fifth inning.
Cole sprinted into foul ground down the right field line, leaped at the stands and got his glove over the railing to catch a JJ Schwarz foul ball on the first pitch of the ninth inning.
Matt Cronin pounded his glove into his fist after watching Cole haul in Schwarz's attempt.
"I absolutely loved it," Cronin said. "I think it was the first pitch. Took a lot of pressure off me right there. Easy out, quick and efficient, and I was ready to go again."
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn and the Razorbacks in the first-base dugout could not see Cole's catch because they were blocked by the stands.
"All of a sudden, he disappeared and the crowd started going crazy," Van Horn said. "And then he comes out and we saw the catch [on the video board]. I mean, he actually went on that rail and caught the ball. Looks like it maybe would have gone in the stands. He's a good outfielder."
Matt Cronin tied the school record with his 13th save, equaling the mark set by current Razorback volunteer assistant coach Colby Suggs in 2013.
"Tying the saves record is awesome," Cronin said. "It means I'm doing my job right."
Oregon State leadoff batter Nick Madrigal, a .399 hitter entering Saturday’s game, had only five strikeouts on the season before Mississippi State lefty Ethan Small struck him out to open the game.
Around the horn
• Oregon State leadoff batter Nick Madrigal, a .399 hitter entering Saturday's game, had but five strikeouts on the season before Mississippi State lefty Ethan Small struck him out to open the game.
• All the games of the final are scheduled for 6 p.m. starts on ESPN, The games will be Monday and Tuesday, and game 3 would be Wednesday, if necessary.
Sports on 06/24/2018
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