Tom Murphy is a sports 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. He was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Hogs' season still alive
Arkansas starting pitcher Brady Tygart (25) celebrates on his way back to the dugout, Sunday, June 4, 2023, during the fourth inning against the Santa Clara Broncos in an elimination game of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn went with another lineup shuffle in a must-win scenario on Sunday night.
The moves paid dividends as the Razorbacks stayed alive with a 6-4 win over Santa Clara in a late elimination game before a crowd of 10,395 at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Brady Tygart (3-1) earned the win with his longest stint in his sixth game since returning from a strained elbow ligament. Will McEntire worked 2 2/3 innings and Hunter Hollan came on in the ninth to earn his first save.
The Razorbacks (43-17) had been smoked 20-5 by TCU earlier in the day, the largest run total allowed by Arkansas in an NCAA game, to send them into the loser’s bracket.
“I’ve been a part of some crazy days,” Van Horn said. “It’s going to take a crazy day for us to win tomorrow. You’ve got to give credit to TCU. They’ve been on fire for three weeks.”
Arkansas advanced to the championship round of the regional, needing to beat TCU (39-22) twice to move on to the super regionals. The opener is scheduled for a 2 p.m. first pitch.
More from WholeHogSports: How to watch, listen to Arkansas-TCU
Santa Clara (36-20) met an end to its most successful season in nearly three decades. The Broncos went 1-2 in the regional, their first NCAA tourney win in their first appearance since 1997.
“We strike out 11, give up six hits and walk three. That’s going to put you in position to win most of the time,” Santa Clara Coach Rusty Filter said.
Trailing 6-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, Santa Clara made things interesting by plating a run on Thomas Ferroggiaro’s RBI single. Hollan relieved McEntire and got a 6-4-3 double play on his eight pitch to slow-running catcher Ben Steck to end the game.
Van Horn swapped Caleb Cali from third base to second, inserted the hot bat of Ben McLaughlin at third base in the clean-up spot, and moved Jace Bohrofen and Jared Wegner up in the order to the two and three holes.
Bohrofen went 2 for 5, his first two-hit game in nearly a month, a May 7 win at Mississippi State, while Wegner homered and reached base two other times.
Kendall Diggs, hitting in the five hole, provided a two-run home run in the eighth inning after Santa Clara had rallied within a run.
The Razorbacks’ revamped lineup, batting as the visitors, struck early with two runs in the first inning.
Tavian Josenberger worked a seven-pitch walk from left-hander Brandon Gomez (6-4) to open the game. Bohrofen, appearing to emerge from a lengthy slump, drilled the first pitch he saw deep to center field for a one-hop double off the fence to bring Josenberger home.
Bohrofen tagged up on Wegner’s fly out to deep right field, then did the same on McLaughlin’s fly to medium-depth left field to slide home for a 2-0 lead.
Wegner went down and stroked a two-out home run to left-center field, his 14th of the season and second since returning from a broken left thumb, to give the Hogs a 3-0 edge after three.
Diggs reached on first baseman Efrain Manzo’s fielding error to lead off the fourth inning. The designated hitter then advanced on Brady Slavens’ grounder to shortstop. Parker Rowland hit a multi-hopper up the middle, just out of the reach of a diving Williams, to send Diggs to the plate for a 4-0 margin.
Tygart worked five scoreless innings and almost got through the sixth before the Broncos broke through.
Dawson Brigman singled to open the bottom of the sixth, then Michael O’Hara worked a seven-pitch walk. Tygart retired Efrain Manzo and Coleman Brigman on a fly out and strikeout before Eamonn Lance laced his 99th and final pitch off the left-field wall for a two-run double.
McEntire induced a chopper toward third base from Malcolm Williams and McLaughlin made a strong short-hop pick but threw errantly to first, allowing a run to score.
Tygart allowed 3 runs, 2 of them earned, on 3 hits and 3 walks in his 5 2/3 innings.
McLaughlin led off the eighth inning with a chopper single up the middle against August Souza that Williams could not handle. He was replaced by pinch runner Hunter Grimes as Filter called on flame-throwing right-hander Skylar Hales.
Diggs got ahead 2-0 and worked to a 3-2 count before getting a low Hales fastball he could handle. The sophomore sent it off the scoreboard in right field for a two-run home run, his 12th, for a 6-3 lead.
Hales thought he had struck Diggs out on the pitch before.
“It was a great swing,” Filter said. “He hit a home run after strike three.”
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.