Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn is in a bittersweet position as he watches two of his former players compete in the 2021 World Series beginning tonight.
Former Razorbacks pitcher Drew Smyly will take the mound for the Atlanta Braves and former Hog Ryne Stanek will suit up for the Houston Astros.
On one hand, Van Horn will see one of his former players experience the ecstasy of winning a championship at the highest level. On the other hand, Van Horn will see one of his former players experience the gut-wrenching agony of defeat.
Put another way: since his players are on opposing teams, someone has to win and someone has to lose.
Former Arkansas baseball players Drew Smyly and Ryne Stanek are competing in the 2021 World Series
Reporters asked Van Horn what he thought about his former players and how far they’ve come since competing for the Razorbacks.
“Both of those guys were Friday night starters their last year here for us,” Van Horn said in comments captured by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
“I hate it that one of them isn’t going to win a world championship, but I’m just really proud of them and how far they’ve come to be in the positions they are now.”
Stanek has appeared on the mound in eight games in the 2021 postseason, facing 23 batters. He has recorded 6 strikeouts, 1 walk across the span of 6.2 innings. He has an ERA of 1.35 so far in the postseason.
Smyly has appeared in just one postseason game this season for the Atlanta Braves, facing 13 batters and striking out two.
“They’re both tough and have good stuff,” Van Horn said. “They worked hard, and they’ve earned everything they’ve gotten so far,” the coach said according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Razorback fans are in for a treat for the 2021 World Series, but like Dave Van Horn, most will be split as to who they’ll be cheering for.