TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Senior Andrew Darr started his first game in almost a month and made the most of his opportunity by collecting four hits including the game-winning walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth to lead the No. 16 Arkansas Razorback Baseball team to a 9-8 victory over the No. 5 Florida State Seminoles in Super Regional action and earn themselves a trip to the College World Series.
Arkansas (39-22) defeated Florida State (45-18) for the second straight day and with the win earnedits sixth trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., and first since 2004. In an ironic twist, the Razorbacks defeated Florida State for the second time in as many tries to advance to the College World Series having dispatched of the Seminoles at Baum Stadium five years ago. The Razorbacks become just the ninth team in NCAA history to advance to the College World Series without playing either the Regional or Super Regional round in their home ballpark.
Darr was at his best in the game delivering hit after hit. His solo home run in the seventh inning was the start of a five-run inning that gave the Razorbacks a 6-5 lead and his double to left-center in the ninth proved to be the game winner. The Gilbert, Ariz., native had caught Van Horn’s eye in batting practice several times over the past week and his heroics on Saturday were no surprise. Darr had a pinch hit single at the Norman Regional and at the beginning of the season delivered two game-winning hits against Washington St.
The Razorbacks missed out on an opportunity to score in the second inning by getting a one-out single, and then loading the bases with two outs, but the big hit they needed failed to come and the Seminoles headed to the dugout with the game tied at zero.
Andy Wilkins led off the bottom of the fourth for Arkansas with a laser over the left-center field wall to tie the game at one, but even after a follow up double by Bo Bigham, Arkansas could not grab the lead in the contest. Wilkins home run was his 18th of the season and third of the postseason. His 18 home runs move him into a tie for fifth on Arkansas’ all-time single season list with Andy Skeels who hit 18 back in 1987.
Florida State rallied in the top of the fifth to score four runs and take a 5-1 lead. A one-out single by the No. 8 hitters was followed by another bloop single, on a pitch in on the hands of the batter. Florida State brought the top of the order to the plate and the leadoff man, Holt, delivered another base hit, this one a RBI double off the right-center field wall. A ground out scored Florida State’s second run and brought the Hogs to within one out of getting out of the inning, but a home run by Mike McGee scored two runs and made it a 5-1 game.
The Razorback seventh began with Darr’s home run and continued as the Florida State bullpen struggled to throw strikes for the second straight day. James McCann walked and after a fielder’s choice back-to-back walks by Chase Leavitt and Ben Tschepikow loaded the bases. A potential inning-ending ground ball by Scott Lyons was booted by the Florida State third baseman allowing one run to score and Bigham delivered again with a two-RBI single to center giving Arkansas its first lead.
Arkansas scored what it thought was an insurance run in the eighth, but a ninth-inning Florida State rally off Arkansas’ closer gave the Seminoles an 8-7 lead going to the bottom of the ninth. Florida State rallied after a one-out walk with big hits coming from Holt, who had six hits over the two games, and Jason Stidham which scored three Seminole runs.
Arkansas’ ninth began with a fly out by Wilkins, but Bigham hung in for a nine-pitch at bat and drew a walk. Zack Cox then stroked a single through the right side to put runners on first and second for Darr who hit the first pitch into the left-center field gap to score the two Razorback runs and end the game.
The Razorbacks’ victory while an outstanding offensive effort would not have been possible without the pitching of Brett Eibner, T.J. Forrest and Stephen Richards. Eibner pitched 4.2 innings and looked very good until running into trouble in the fifth. Forrest then stepped in and went the next 2.2 innings without allowing a hit and striking out one. Richards finished things off for the Razorbacks and despite being tagged with a blown save, he did earn his sixth win of the year.
Arkansas now awaits the conclusion of the remaining Super Regionals to see whowilladvance tothe College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The Hogs will face Cal-State Fullerton in a first round game on either Saturday or Sunday. The date and time of Arkansas’ first round game will be announced Monday night after the conclusion of all the Super Regional competitions. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.