Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
McEntire will start Game 2 for Arkansas at North Carolina
Arkansas pitcher Will McEntire goes through practice Friday, June 10, 2022, in Chapel Hill, N.C.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Arkansas redshirt sophomore right hander Will McEntire will start Sunday’s super regional game at North Carolina.
"We weren't sure last night until maybe about 9 o'clock at night, and honestly this morning it was back to 50-50 either way, left or right," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said Sunday on the Razorback Sports Network in regards to whether he was going to start a right hander or left hander. "We just decided to go with Will and we'll see how it turns out. I feel like he deserves it and the team is confident that he's going to give us a chance to get into the game a little bit."
McEntire (1-2, 3.25 ERA) has started six games, but Sunday’s start will be his first in an NCAA Tournament game. He came out of the bullpen twice during the Razorbacks’ regional at Oklahoma State last week.
The Bryant native threw 14 pitches during Arkansas’ 20-12 victory over Oklahoma State, and threw 67 pitches when he replaced starter Jaxon Wiggins in the second inning of last Sunday’s 14-10 loss to the Cowboys in extra innings.
At Oklahoma State, McEntire threw 6 2/3 innings, allowed 3 runs, 4 hits and 4 walks, and struck out 3.
After pitching solely as a midweek starter in April and early May, McEntire has become increasingly relied upon in the past month. He threw 6 1/3 innings of relief in his first two SEC outings against Auburn and Vanderbilt before he made his first SEC start at Alabama on May 19. McEntire also started a game against the Crimson Tide at the SEC Tournament.
Of his 36 innings pitched this season, 19 1/3 have come since May 8 against SEC competition or in NCAA postseason play. During that stretch he has a 4.19 ERA.
North Carolina will start junior left hander Brandon Schaeffer in Game 2. Schaeffer (7-3, 3.73 ERA) started twice during the Tar Heels’ home regional last week and threw a combined 137 pitches, including 58 pitches during the regional championship against Virginia Commonwealth on Monday.
Over 9 combined innings against VCU, Schaeffer allowed 4 runs, 10 hits and 3 walks, and struck out 9. That followed a shutout against Virginia Tech at the ACC Tournament.
Arkansas defeated North Carolina 4-1 in the first game of the super regional Saturday. The Razorbacks can clinch a trip to the College World Series with a victory Sunday. The Tar Heels must win Sunday and Monday to advance.
Sunday’s game is scheduled to begin at noon Central and will be televised by ESPN2.
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