2012 College World Series: Van Horn Gambles, Hogs Lose


Omaha, Neb. – The South Carolina Gamecocks avenged the loss of their 22-game NCAA Tournament win streak on a 2-1 loss on Monday night by beating the Arkansas Razorbacks 2-0 Thursday.

Arkansas Razorback head coach Dave Van Horn made an educated albeit risky decision Thursday night by starting Randall Fant (2-3, 3.27 ERA) instead of starting ace pitcher D.J. Baxendale. Van Horn’s roll of the dice may have put the Hogs in a hole for the remainder of their time in Omaha.

Before knowing who the Razorbacks (46-21) would play on Thursday, Van Horn named Fant the starter. When speaking to reporters Van Horn let it be known that however many innings he got out of Fant would be great… Fant lasted 1.1 innings for Arkansas giving up two earned runs on four hits before being pulled for relief pitcher Brandon Moore.

This could not be the start and amount of innings Van Horn had envisioned for Fant.

The Gamecocks (48-18) were in position to take advantage of Fant’s shaky start in the first inning after singling up the middle with one out. A batter’s interference call on a hit and run play got Fant his second out of the inning.

A walk to LB Dantzler put runners on first and second with two outs. Adam Matthews popped out to Brian Anderson in right field to end the inning allowing the Hogs to escape the inning without giving up any runs.

In the second Fant gave up a leadoff double to Erik Payne followed by another double to Tanner English to score the first South Carolina run of the game. After a groundout to third, Chase Vergason singled up the middle driving in English extending the score to 2-0.

Fant was immediately pulled from the game for relief pitcher Brandon Moore. Moore was able to induce a groundball double play to end the top half of the second inning.

Moore pitched brilliantly for the Hogs throwing 5.2 innings of two-hit ball and retired 9-straight batters before first baseman Dominic Ficociello committed an error in the sixth inning.

Moore was able to work past Ficociello’s error and a past ball committed by catcher Jake Wise to end the inning without allowing any Gamecock runs.

After Fant allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in the second Moore did not allow the leadoff hitter to get on board until the seventh inning but a 2-6-3 double play erased the leadoff walk issued by Moore.

Trent Daniel came into the game in place of Moore in the eighth inning. Daniel got two outs before allowing back-to-back walks and was replaced by Nolan Sanburn.

Sanburn finished out the game for Arkansas allowing one hit while striking out two.

Despite only netting three hits for the entire game, the Razorbacks had runners on base in the fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth inning but made three different base running errors costing the team potential runs.

The bottom half of the order has produced the majority of Arkansas’ runs and hits in their previous two CWS games. Thursday night was no different as Derrick Bleeker and Matt Vinson finished the game 1-3 and pinch hitter Jacob Mahan drew a walk in the ninth.

Arkansas’ 1-5 hitters in the batting order combined to go 1 for 15 with a walk against South Carolina freshman pitcher Jordan Montgomery and closer Matt Price.

Montgomery threw 8.0 innings of three-hit shutout ball striking out six.

Arkansas and South Carolina both face an elimination game against each other Friday night scheduled for 8 p.m. CT to be televised on ESPN.

Van Horn’s probable starter for tomorrow’s game will be his ace pitcher D.J. Baxendale (8-5, 3.07 ERA).

Should the Hogs win on Friday they will face Arizona in the championship round of the College World Series starting on Sunday at 7 p.m. CT airing on ESPN2.

Once in the CWS finals against Arizona, Van Horn will more than likely be without Baxendale unless the Hogs play a third game on Tuesday June 26.

As important as winning the CWS is to the University of Arkansas, Razorback Nation, and the Razorback baseball team, one hopes that Baxendale is not rushed back onto the mound with only a couple of days rest between starts.

Smart money would have had Van Horn gambling on Baxendale Thursday night instead of possibly throwing him on three day’s rest come Monday. Now Van Horn has the Hogs in an elimination game and could gamble on Baxendale’s promising future throwing him too much too soon in the CWS finale.