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.
Super regional report:
Martin, Van Horn know drill
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn applauds during Game 3 of the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium on Monday, June 10, 2019, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn will make his eighth appearance as a head coach at the College World Series, the second most among active coaches, when the Razorbacks open against Florida State at 6 p.m. Saturday in Omaha, Neb.
Van Horn, 58, will guide Arkansas to its 10th College World Series showing and its sixth with him at the helm.
Van Horn ranks second among active NCAA coaches behind only Florida State's Mike Martin, the man he will face in their CWS opener. The Seminoles, who beat Georgia and LSU twice this postseason, will make their 17th appearance at the College World Series under the 75-year-old Martin, who is retiring at the end of this, his 40th season.
The Razorbacks qualified for the CWS in 1979, 1985, 1987 and 1989 under Coach Norm DeBriyn, and in 2004, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2019 under Van Horn. He also led Nebraska to the CWS in Omaha, Neb., in 2001 and 2002.
Van Horn had been tied for second among active coaches with seven CWS appearances with Florida's Kevin O'Sullivan and North Carolina's Mike Fox.
Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad broke out of a skid this season against Ole Miss with a 3-for-4 performance, including two doubles and a towering home run over the right-field wall.
Kjerstad, who had been 4 for 27 (.148) in seven games against the Rebels with no RBI, drove in 4 runs and scored 3 times Monday.
"I didn't know that," Kjerstad said of his struggles against Ole Miss. "I don't normally crush numbers on the guys I face. I just come to the ballpark, and I want to help my team get back to Omaha. I wanted to do it however I could. It's just great we got a win today."
Kjerstad entered Monday's game batting .323 with 15 home runs on the season.
"He's really good, and I wish I knew why we had so much success against him," Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco said. "But today, I just don't think we were able to make pitches that we have made.
"Some of it is just that when hitters don't do well, it's just good fortune. The pitchers were able to make better pitches and be in better counts. When I look back at the previous seven games, I think it was just good fortune because when you look at his numbers, there's no doubt he is one of the better hitters in the country."
All 'D' inning
Two of the Razorbacks' All-SEC defensive players showed out in the top of the eighth inning.
First baseman Trevor Ezell made a clean pick of a hard grounder to his right by Cole Zabowski to start a 3-6-1 double play for the first two outs of the frame.
After Cooper Johnson doubled, center fielder Dominic Fletcher fired a one-hop strike to home plate on Tyler Keenan's single over second base. Catcher Casey Opitz, standing to the left of home plate, snagged the one-hopper and tagged Johnson on the hip just before he touched home plate.
The team that scored first between Arkansas and Ole Miss lost all three games in the series, and the designated home team won all three games.
Ole Miss scored in the first inning in each of the three games, while Arkansas did not score in the opening inning on Monday for the first time in the super regional.
The Rebels scored five first-inning runs in the series while the Razorbacks pushed across six runs in the first, four on Saturday and two on Sunday.
Arkansas freshmen Connor Noland and Patrick Wicklander combined to throw 60 pitches in their starts in games 2 and 3. Wicklander was in for 40 pitches through two outs in the second inning Monday. He allowed 1 run on 2 hits, 1 walk and 2 hit batsmen.
Noland threw 20 pitches on Sunday, coming out after allowing a second-inning home run to Cooper Johnson with only three outs to his credit.
Ole Miss reliever Houston Roth, who earned a four-inning save Sunday, has a connection to one of the greatest Arkansas football teams.
Roth is the great-nephew of Jim Roth, a senior on the Razorbacks' 1954 Southwest Conference championship team, affectionately known as the 25 Little Pigs.
Dominic Fletcher's two-run double in the sixth inning gave him 24 for the season, one shy of the team high.
First baseman Trevor Ezell leads the club with 25 doubles, while Casey Martin has 20.
The Razorbacks have hit 140 doubles as a team.
The Razorbacks stole two bases Monday and went 3 of 3 in the series. Christian Franklin and Casey Opitz swiped bags in Monday's finale, and Heston Kjerstad had a theft of second base in the third inning Saturday.
Arkansas catcher Casey Opitz threw out two of three runners over the weekend.
Around the horn
• Patrick Wicklander hit two-hole hitter Ryan Olenek with a pitch in the first inning for his team-high 10th hit batsman of the season, and he added his 11th on Knox Loposer in the second.
• Pitcher Zack Phillips of Texarkana threw 21/3 scoreless innings to finish the game for Ole Miss, while second baseman Jacob Adams from Conway came off the bench and went 1 for 3.
Sports on 06/11/2019
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