Matt Jones is the editor of the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
Hogs' season ends with another big loss to TCU
Arkansas designated hitter Kendall Diggs (center) reacts Monday, June 5, 2023, to a pair of home runs during the eighth inning of the Razorbacks’ 12-4 loss to TCU in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ baseball season came to an end Monday on its home field.
TCU won the NCAA Fayetteville Regional with a 12-4 victory over the Razorbacks at Baum-Walker Stadium. The Horned Frogs (40-22) won their ninth consecutive game and advanced to play later this week at Indiana State in the super regional round.
Arkansas (43-18), which was the No. 3 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, failed to make it out of the regional round for the first time since 2017. The Razorbacks became the fifth host to lose a regional this week, and the third team to lose when it stood a chance to host a super regional.
TCU won its first regional since advancing to a fourth consecutive College World Series in 2017. The Horned Frogs lost a regional at Arkansas in 2019.
"They were a wrecking crew, man," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "They were really good this weekend and we knew when we saw they were coming to us, what we were getting into.
"From everything we had heard, I mean, it was true that they were really hot and they were really tough to beat. We'd already seen them obviously, but whatever was going on in the middle of the season, they fixed it. They're awfully good."
Right fielder Austin Davis hit a two-run opposite-field home run to left field against Arkansas reliever Zack Morris in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Horned Frogs a 5-4 lead. TCU added a third run in the inning when Cole Fontenelle singed after a two-out fielding error by fill-in second baseman Caleb Cali.
TCU scored five runs over the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings after the Razorbacks took a 4-2 lead with back-to-back home runs by Jace Bohrofen and Jared Wegner in the top of the fifth. The Horned Frogs blew the game open with a five-run eighth that included home runs by Tre Richardson and Kurtis Byrne against Arkansas freshman right-hander Christian Foutch.
"It's never easy to win a championship, especially the SEC championship," TCU coach Kirk Saarloos said. "[Arkansas is] a classy group, I know all those coaches very well. I thought they left everything out there and I was super proud of the way our guys responded to getting down, and coming back and playing good baseball the second half of the game."
Richardson had 3 RBI on Monday, one day after he tied the NCAA Tournament record with 11 RBI against the Razorbacks. Byrne homered twice.
"It was a great weekend for him," Davis said of Richardson. "I'm glad, seeing him do his thing. He's been doing it all year, so really just seeing the ball fly out for him, it was a great feeling. I knew that he was gonna finally get some juice, but I'm happy for him."
Bohrofen’s 427-foot home run off the batter’s eye in the fifth inning was Arkansas’ first hit against TCU starting right-hander Cam Brown and gave the Razorbacks a 3-2 advantage.
Wegner followed with a 379-foot homer to right field, which sent the Horned Frogs to the bullpen.
Left-hander Ben Abeldt pitched well as TCU completed its comeback, then pulled away. Abeldt did not allow a run in 4 2/3 innings.
Brown loaded the bases on a hit batsman and two walks with no outs in the first inning, but Arkansas could only muster one run on a sacrifice fly by Ben McLaughlin to score Tavian Josenberger. Kendall Diggs popped up to third base and Cali struck out to strand a pair of base runners.
Cody Adcock started and pitched 1 1/3 innings before the Razorbacks quickly turned to left-hander Hagen Smith, who allowed 8 runs in a 1-plus-inning start against TCU on Sunday.
On Monday, Smith allowed 1 run, 3 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 6 during his 67-pitch outing. He threw 45 pitches for strikes.
Smith allowed a two-run single to Davis after he replaced Adcock in the second inning, which gave TCU a 2-1 lead. Davis, the nine-hole hitter, finished with 4 RBI.
Smith worked around base runners for much of his outing. He stranded runners at third base in the second and fifth innings, and two runners in the fourth. Tre Richardson’s RBI groundout plated a run in the bottom of the fifth, but Kurtis Byrne struck out to strand a runner at third base and preserve a 4-3 lead for Arkansas.
The Razorbacks did not slow TCU much thereafter. Eight of the Horned Frogs’ 12 hits came between the sixth and eighth innings against Morris, Foutch and right-hander Gage Wood.
"They're really good," Bohrofen said. "They have really good approaches. They're really just grinding pitches, man. I mean, it feels like our pitchers have them, and then somehow they just hit something, foul it off, and then they get a pitch to hit and they drive it in for some runs.
"They're all really tough outs, and they can just swing it one through nine. And that pitching staff is really good. It just felt like whoever came in for them, it was just going to a be a dog fight and a challenge for us."
Arkansas lost both of its games against TCU at the regional and finished 0-3 against the Horned Frogs overall with a combined score of 50-15.
The Razorbacks lost 20-5 in their first meeting at the regional, and also lost 18-6 to TCU at the College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 18.
TCU became the first opposing team to beat Arkansas twice at Baum-Walker Stadium in 2023. The Razorbacks finished with a 32-6 record at home.
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