Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year twice.
Ezell a hit for Hogs all season
Arkansas first baseman Trevor Ezell goes through practice Friday, June 14, 2019, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
OMAHA, Neb. -- Trevor Ezell went three years between at-bats in the NCAA Tournament, but the University of Arkansas' fifth-year senior from Bryant picked up right where he left off.
In 2016 when Ezell was a sophomore second baseman at Southeast Missouri State, he finished the season by going 3 for 4 against Louisiana Tech in the NCAA Starkville (Miss.) Regional.
Ezell, who came to Arkansas this season as a graduate transfer, didn't get to hit in the NCAA Tournament again until this season.
Against Central Connecticut State in the Razorbacks' Fayetteville Regional opener, Ezell went 3 for 5. He hasn't stopped hitting since.
In six NCAA Tournament games, including two against TCU in the regional and three in a super regional against Ole Miss, Ezell is 15 for 28 for a .536 batting average. He has hit two home runs -- and was robbed of another by Rebels center fielder Ryan Olenek's leaping catch -- and six doubles. He has eight runs batted in.
Including Southeast Missouri State's final game in 2016, Ezell is 18 of 32 (.563) in his past seven NCAA Tournament games going into the Razorbacks' College World Series opener against Florida State tonight.
"Trevor's just a hitter," Arkansas hitting coach Nate Thompson said. "His focus is always good, but it probably gets even a little higher in the postseason just because it means a lot to him. He's been bringing it, and we're really proud of him."
Ezell, who has played primarily first base this season after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason, is batting .333 with 10 home runs, 25 doubles and 2 triples while starting all 64 games. He has scored 72 runs and driven in 49. Including 47 walks, he has a .442 on-base percentage.
As impressive as those numbers are, they're even better for Ezell in in the NCAA Tournament.
"I think it's a new bat," Ezell said with a smile. "They gave us some new bats for postseason play and it's been working well. So we'll go with that.
"It's the same bat, just a new model."
Ezell said good hitting also sometimes requires good luck, too.
"Luckily, they are kind of falling where they aren't sometimes," he said. "I'm really getting a good barrel on the ball and they're finding gaps.
"That's not always how it goes, but I'll obviously take them. It's been good to keep some innings going and to score some runs for sure."
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said it's good to see Ezell hitting better than ever in the biggest games.
"Man's on a mission," Van Horn said. "He wanted to go to Omaha."
Ezell previously attended College World Series games several years ago when he was playing summer baseball.
"That's when I really started thinking about playing college baseball and maybe even having a chance to play in the College World Series," Ezell said. "That's exactly why I came here to Arkansas.
"I wanted to have a chance to play in the postseason. Not only play in the postseason, but go all the way to Omaha."
Ezell, a switch-hitter, is batting .337 (32 of 95) against left-handed pitchers and .331 (50 of 151) against righties.
"He's really good from both sides of the plate," Thompson said. "It's not like he has a glaring weakness from either side. He's just really consistent and very poised."
Ezell is batting .456 (41 for 90) in the last 36 games since moving to the leadoff spot from hitting No. 3.
"He's the spark plug of our team," Arkansas center fielder Dominic Fletcher said. "He leads us off and gets us going.
"Once he gets us rolling, I think everyone else kind of follows. He's really had that good fifth-year senior leadership.
"We all call him 'Dad' because he's older than all of us and has a beard. He's been great for us."
Even Vanderbilt Coach Tim Corbin made a joke about Ezell's age when he was asked about Arkansas' lineup during a Friday news conference.
"They've got a fifth-year senior who plays first base that looks like he's 40 years old and hits balls all over the yard," Corbin said.
Ezell, who turned 23 in April, laughed when told of Corbin's comment.
"That's funny," Ezell said. "The guys on the team have been giving me jokes like that all year. So anybody that wants to hop in on that, I'm fine with it."
When Arkansas was in Omaha for two weeks last season after Ezell hit .377 with 50 RBI and made it known he would be transferring from Southeast Missouri State, Van Horn was also busy recruiting him.
"He was our biggest recruit in the summer," Van Horn said. "I remember sitting in Omaha for two weeks calling him like every other day saying, 'Don't do anything. We're here.'
"During that time, he visited a couple other schools and it was huge when he committed here. I'm just really happy for him that he's going to finish his college career [in Omaha]."
Ezell said he visited Texas A&M before deciding on Arkansas.
"I really enjoyed that place," Ezell said of College Station, Texas. "But it's nothing compared to Arkansas."
Sports on 06/15/2019
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