In mid-May, after the Razorbacks had dropped a home series to Auburn and went below .500 in SEC play, I would have never believed the Hogs had a chance to be in Omaha. After winning decisive games in both the Regional and Super Regional by a combined score of 2-0, the Hogs find themselves in position to do a little damage in the College World Series. The old rhetoric is that pitching and defense is what wins in Omaha. Well if that is true, the Hogs seem to be in good shape. The Razorbacks pitched 14 straight shut-out innings to edge by a Baylor team that has swung the bat as good as any team in the country this season. A couple key defensive plays helped make the pitching seem even a little better. There is no doubt that Tim Carver’s double play grab in game 2 of the Super regional was at the very least the most important play of the game, if not the series or season.
The Razorbacks have had to rely on that great pitching and defense more than they would like. Dave Van Horn has said all along that this team’s challenge will be hitting and he has proven very correct. The Hogs average a dismal 3 runs per game in the NCAA tournament, which ranks dead last of the 8 teams in Omaha. Van Horn is inserting the red-hot Joe Serrano back into the starting line-up; he has hit .500 this postseason. He and the team know they will have to score some runs to win the tournament, but they also know that this squad’s 2nd ranked pitching staff, according to E.R.A, is good enough to make up for a few offensive struggles.
The Hogs hope that Kent State will be a little nervous entering their first ever trip to the World Series. If the Hogs get passed Kent State they will have to get by the winner of familiar foes Florida and 2-time defending champion South Carolina. The task will not be easily achieved, but the Razorbacks are up to the challenge. D.J Baxendale will start for the Hogs on Saturday in the first game. You can catch it on ESPN at 4p.m central time.