Fayetteville, Ark. – After being picked to finish next to last in the Southeastern Conference in 2004, the Arkansas Razorbacks put an exclamation point on their season by defeating Florida State 4-2 Saturday night to advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
It is the fifth trip to Omaha for the Razorbacks, but the first since the 1989 season.
“I feel great,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “I feel great that we don’t play tomorrow (against Florida State). This has been one of those seasons. I am very proud of our team. The gave great effort and worked hard every day.”
It is the third College World Series appearance for Van Horn as a head coach. Van Horn guided the Nebraska Cornhusker to the 2001 and 2002 College World Series’.
Saturday night’s game opened in dramatic fashion as freshman Jake Dugger hit a leadoff home run in the top of the first inning to give the Hogs a 1-0 lead and ignite the Baum Stadium and NCAA Super Regional record crowd of 10,027 fans.
“I wanted to start the game off good,” Dugger said. “I was batting with two strikes and just hit it. It was crazy.”
The Seminoles, however, would tie the game with a run in the bottom of the second inning. Aaron Cheesman tripled to right to open the bottom of the inning and scored on Matt Sauls’ single up the middle.
The Hogs wasted no time in regaining the lead as they plated three runs in the top of the third inning. Devin Day doubled to left to open the inning and moved to third on a wild throw by Cannon on a pickoff move.
Scott Bridges then laced a ball into left that Gibbs Chapman missed and allowed to hit off his arm. Day scored on the play and Bridges wound up at third.
Dugger picked up his second RBI of the night with a single to right-center that scored Bridges and gave the Razorbacks a 3-1 lead. After a pair of ground out moved Dugger to third, Scott Hode singled to through the left side to score Dugger and push the Arkansas lead to 4-1.
Arkansas starter Charley Boyce did not need anymore run support as he shutdown the high powered Seminole attack. Boyce allowed only five hits in five and two-thirds innings of work and did not issue a walk as he earned the win to move to 10-2 on the season.
Boyce was pulled in the sixth inning for Trey Holloway who entered with two outs and two runners on.
FSU appeared to mount a rally when Chapman laced a single to right off Holloway. Aaron Cheesman, who reached on a one-out single, rounded third and raced for home.
Bridges fielded Chapman’s single and fired a one-hop rocket to Brady Toops at home plate who put the tag on Cheesman to end the inning without a run scoring.
After allowing the Hogs to score four times in the first three innings, Cannon settled down and held the Razorbacks scoreless. Cannon took the loss to fall to 9-7 after going eight and one-third innings allowing four runs, two earned, on six hits.
Holloway gave way to Jay Sawatski in the eighth inning with two on and one out. Sawatski got Matt Sauls to fly out to center and then ended the inning when Chapman struck out swinging.
In the ninth, Shane Robinson doubled up the middle to open the inning and moved to third when Bryan Zech reached on a fielding error by the Razorbacks.
Stephen Drew made it a 4-2 game with a sac fly to left that scored Robinson from third. Sawatski completed his seventh save of the season when he got Eddy Martinez-Esteve to strike out swinging to end the game.
The Razorbacks will play No. 1 national seed Texas in the first game of the College World Series on Friday, June 18, at Rosenblatt Stadium.
No advance tickets can be purchases through the UA Ticket Office or the College World Series. Tickets can be bought at Rosenblatt stadium. Tickets are $10 for single-game general admission and $50 for a book of 10 tickets good for any game during the tournament.