Bob Holt is a sports reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he sits on the board of directors for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year four times and has been inducted to the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
Horned Frogs rout Hogs for second time
TCU second baseman Tre Richardson (0) celebrates with teammates after hitting a grand slam, Sunday, June 4, 2023, during the first inning of the Arkansas Razorbacks’ game against TCU in the second round of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Playing TCU has not been a good matchup for the University of Arkansas this season.
The Horned Frogs put a beatdown on the Razorbacks for the second time when they pounded Arkansas 20-5 on Sunday at Baum-Walker Stadium in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional.
TCU, which beat Arkansas 18-6 on Feb. 18 in Arlington, Texas, will play in the regional championship game today.
Horned Frogs second baseman Tre Richardson, who entered with two home runs in 239 at-bats, hit grand slams in the first and second innings against starter Hagen Smith and reliever Zach Morris. He added a two-run home run in the sixth inning against Austin Ledbetter.
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“I guess Tre’s saving the best for last,” TCU Coach Kirk Saarloos said. “He didn’t want to get all of his homers out of the way early. He was able to put some good swings on the ball today.”
Richardson went 5 for 6 and capped his big day with a single in the ninth inning for his 11th run batted in. He tied an NCAA Tournament record set by Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers, who had 11 RBI in 2019 when the Bears beat Nebraska-Omaha 24-6.
“The approach didn’t change from anything I’ve been doing all season,” said Richardson, a transfer from Baylor who came into the game batting .310 with 44 RBI. “Today I was able to get three out, and that was a pretty good feeling.
“Nothing really changed, other than we had IHOP for breakfast. That was something big. Let’s do that again.
“Other than that, it was just going up there and trying to compete, win pitches and help my team win.”
Richardson didn’t have a particularly large breakfast.
“I had two pancakes and a slab of bacon,” he said. “I’ll probably eat the same thing tomorrow.”
Richardson smiled when asked if he’d ever hit grand slams in consecutive at-bats.
“Shoot, I’ve never hit a grand slam on any level of baseball,” he said. “It worked out today where I hit two. I was just trying to put up a good swing.”
The Razorbacks allowed their most runs in an NCAA Tournament game and suffered their most-lopsided loss.
Arkansas’ previous most-lopsided NCAA Tournament loss was 11 runs — 13-2 to Texas in the 2004 College World Series, 19-8 at Texas in the 2005 Austin Regional and 14-3 to Oklahoma State in 2007 at the Fayetteville Regional.
The 19 runs by Texas had been the most the Razorbacks allowed in an NCAA Tournament game.
TCU knocked Smith, an All-SEC first-team pitcher, out of the game in the second inning when he failed to retire a batter.
Smith allowed 8 runs, 6 hits, 2 walks and 1 hit batter on 42 pitches.
“Tip of the lid to the type of season Hagen Smith’s had,” Richardson said. “Really, Arkansas’ whole team, but Hagen Smith is special. There’s nothing but respect to him.
“But we’re the type of team that regardless of what the velocity is or anything, we’re going to be aggressive on the pitches we can handle.
“We talked about it before the game, even our outs need to be hard. Don’t go up there and give away at-bats. Make hard contact and fight every single pitch. That’s our M.O. as a lineup, and being able to do that against Hagen Smith was pretty special.”
TCU had 21 hits, including a three-run home run by third baseman Brayden Taylor in the third inning that pushed its lead to 14-1.
“Just passing the bat and trusting the guy behind you will get it done,” Richardson said. “It worked out today and we were fortunate enough to keep doing that for nine innings.”
Right-hander Sam Stoutenborough had a six inning start for the Horned Frogs and threw 96 pitches without a walk. He stayed in the game after a lightning delays of 59 minutes.
“After the second inning, he’d only thrown 29 pitches, so it never crossed my mind to go to anyone else,” Saarloos said. “With him being a senior and being around the block multiple times, I thought he was going to handle it the right way.
“I don’t think he skipped a beat. It was a humid, warm day, and I thought he gave us literally every last ounce he could give us.
“That’s why he started today. We knew what we were going to get from him. It was typical Sam Stoutenborough.”
Arkansas scored all of its runs on home runs, two by Tavian Josenberger and one each by Jace Bohrofen and Harold Coll.
Ledbetter, a sophomore right-hander from Bryant, pitched a season-high six innings to save the Razorbacks’ bullpen.
The Horned Frogs (39-22) won their eighth consecutive game and improved to 14-1 in their last 15 games.
“Baseball is a really long season,” Saarloos said. “You’re going to have your ups and your downs.
“The big thing is, can you have your ups at the end of the season? Give credit to our players in terms of doing that. They just kept showing up and kept believing. It says a lot about who they are.”
Saarloos was asked about the key for the Horned Frogs out-scoring the Razorbacks 38-11 in two matchups this season.
“Baseball is a weird sport,” Saarloos said. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it. There really isn’t.
“We’ve had two good games against them. If I could figure it out, we’d have great games against everybody.”
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