Fayetteville Regional Report: McEntire has more in the tank

By: Bob Holt Bob Holt's Twitter account , Tom Murphy Tom Murphy's Twitter account
Published: Sunday, June 4, 2023
Arkansas reliever Will McEntire leaves the field Friday, June 2, 2023, after stranding a runner at third base during the sixth inning of the Razorbacks’ 13-6 win over Santa Clara in the first round of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
( Andy Shupe)
Arkansas reliever Will McEntire leaves the field Friday, June 2, 2023, after stranding a runner at third base during the sixth inning of the Razorbacks’ 13-6 win over Santa Clara in the first round of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas junior Will McEntire should be able to pitch later in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional, Coach Dave Van Horn said, after the right-hander from Bryant threw 81 pitches Friday in a 13-6 win over Santa Clara.

McEntire pitched twice each of the last two weeks, in the final regular-season series at Vanderbilt and in the SEC Tournament.

“He likes throwing and he doesn’t use a lot of energy,” Van Horn said. “He doesn’t try to throw 95 [mph]. He can throw hard, but he just pitches in the upper 80s, 90, 91 and moves it around a little bit.

“But we’ll just have to see. Sunday he would be able to pitch a little bit.”

McEntire said he “100%” would be ready to pitch again.

“I’ll find a way,” he said.

McEntire threw 55 pitches for strikes, a rate of 68%.

“He’s coming in throwing strikes and getting ahead for the most part,” Santa Clara right fielder Michael O’Hara said. “That’s all you can ask probably from their side of it.”

Van Horn said Friday’s starter, Hunter Hollan, should also be available later in the regional after throwing 49 pitches over 2 1/3 innings.

Leadoff trouble

The speed and then the power of Santa Clara’s leadoff hitters in the first three innings proved problematic for Arizona starter Aiden May.

Leadoff man JonJon Berring began the game with a chopper just inside the third-base line that tipped off the glove of Arizona’s Tony Bullard and went deeper into foul ground. Berring scored on Coleman Brigman’s bases-loaded walk four hitters later.

Santa Clara seven-hole hitter Malcolm Williams hit a dribbler toward Bullard to open the second and reached easily.

Missed him

Santa Clara third baseman Thomas Ferroggiara somehow managed to not get hit by a pitch from Arizona’s Aiden May in the third inning that seemed to be headed right into his midsection.

Ferroggiara leaned down and separated his legs and the ball traveled between them, just below a sensitive area. Replays showed Ferroggiara laughing about the near miss, or perhaps thanking his lucky stars.

TCU ace out

Louis Rodriguez, a freshman right-hander who became a starting pitcher for TCU in Big 12 play late in the season, is out for the NCAA Tournament.

Rodriguez, who didn’t pitch in the Big 12 Tournament due to a shoulder injury, still isn’t healthy enough to return.

“Louie’s not going to be available this weekend or the rest of the postseason,” Horned Frogs Coach Kirk Saarloos said on Thursday. “Nothing surgery-wise. It’s just a matter of looking into the future for him and not putting him at risk.

“We feel like shutting him down at this point in the season, it was a difficult decision and I know it’s tough on Louie. But we decided that we don’t want to injure him any more than he is.”

Rodriguez is 2-1 with 3 saves and a 4.53 ERA in 47 2/3 innings.

Jaylin & Jalen

Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Jaylin Williams and Jalen Williams had a good-natured Twitter exchange before their colleges met in the Fayetteville Regional.

Jaylin Williams played at Arkansas and Jalen Williams at Santa Clara. They were both picked by the Thunder in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Because the Razorbacks beat the Broncos 13-6 on Friday, Jalen Williams will wear an Arkansas shirt to a Thunder game next season. Jaylin Williams would have been required to wear a Santa Clara shirt to a game if the outcome had been different.

In the Twitter exchange, Jaylin Williams posted a picture of Razorbacks Coach Eric Musselman wearing a gaudy red suit covered in Razorback logos.

“I’m thinking something like this,” Jaylin Williams Tweeted of his choice of garb for the other Williams.

Musselman got involved in the conversation, Tweeting, “Would be happy to let you borrow it” with a photo of the jacket.

“Absolutely not,” Jalen Williams replied.

Righty power

When Tavian Josenberger sent a 3-2 pitch from Santa Clara left-hander Nick Sando into the Razorbacks’ bullpen beyond the right field fence, it was the switch-hitting Arkansas center fielder’s second as a right-handed hitter.

Josenberger’s other right-handed home run came off Auburn left-hander Zach Crotchfelt in a 9-3 win over the Tigers. Josenberger pulled that home run over the left field fence at Baum-Walker Stadium.

A junior transfer from Kansas, Josenberger has eight home runs for the Hogs after combining for three home runs the last two years with the Jayhawks.

“It’s pretty cool,” Josenberger said. “I’m not up there trying to hit home runs by any means, but added strength helps out with that and being able to backspin a ball pull side or back side.”

S-E-C! S-E-C!

SEC teams combined for an 11-1 record in NCAA Regional openers on Friday.

The lone SEC loss was Penn beating Auburn 6-3 in 11 innings. The Tigers were eliminated Saturday. 

Along with leading all conferences with 10 teams in the 64-team NCAA Tournament field, the SEC was awarded eight host spots by the selection committee.

“It definitely prepares you for a regional,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said of the rigors of the SEC’s 30-game schedule. “We always talk about that. You hope you play your best ball.

“You think down the stretch who we played and where we played them, it’s hard to play a tougher schedule.”

Arkansas, which finished 20-10 in the SEC and shared the regular-season title with Florida, closed against South Carolina and Vanderbilt, both regional hosts, and then faced two more NCAA Tournament teams in the SEC Tournament in Texas A&M (twice) and LSU.

“We’re not going to be shocked by the talent level of anybody that’s coming into the regional,” Van Horn said. “We’re prepared for what we’re getting into. It’s just a matter of how we handle it.”

Van Horn said SEC teams taking half of the 16 host spots “speaks volumes” for the talent in the conference.

“A lot of future big leaguers play in the SEC,” Van Horn said. “Week in and week out, you’re always playing a good team. Whether they’re winning or not, they have ability, obviously. You have to play well.”

Major League guys

TCU Coach Kirk Saarloos and Arizona Coach Chip Hale are former Major League players.

Saarloos was a pitcher for the Houston Astros, Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds from 2002-08.

Hale was an infielder for parts of seven seasons for the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers between 1989 and 1997. He was a manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks and a coach for several MLB teams.

“Between professional baseball and college baseball, the difference is you don’t have a long enough season to have a bad 10 games,” Saarloos said. “If you have a bad 10 games in college baseball, you might not make a regional. You probably won’t host. Where in professional baseball, you have a bad 10 games, you’ve still got 152 to figure it out.

“In college baseball you have a bad week or two weeks, that’s seven or eight games, and that might ruin your season.”

Saarloos mentioned that as one of the reasons not many former major leaguers come back to coach in college.

“There’s a lot more development in college baseball,” he said. “There’s a lot more things off the field in college baseball in terms of guys being on their own for the first time, being away from family. There are classes, there’s social life. Just their overall well being.

“Where in professional baseball, you just show up and you manage them and you try to win the game. In college, you’re trying to help raise a young man that mom and dad turned over to you. … In professional baseball, it’s a little more cutthroat.”


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