Arkansas’ run in Hoover was disappointingly short-lived. Only being able to muster eight runs in three games was unquestionably the most frustrating aspect of the trip. Casey Martin failed to collect a hit in in ten at-bats and Matt Goodheart, looking for his third home run of the year, was the only Razorback to send a ball over the fence at the Hoover Met. No one could have predicted that before the tournament started. The Razorbacks offensive slump didn’t just begin in Hoover, either. Since game 3 of the LSU series the Hogs have averaged 2.9 runs while compiling a batting average of .199. The scariest stat of all is how unsuccessful they have been with runners in scoring position (RISP). In their first 51 games Arkansas hit .331 w/ RISP. But over the last seven games, that percentage sits at .138. That drop off is… significant to say the least.
With that being said, I believe the best medicine for the OmaHogs will be to be back in the friendly confines of Baum Walker Stadium with 11,000 people in cardinal and white. Keep in mind, this team hasn’t been back home since they flew out to College Station a week and a half ago. 11 days, to be exact. Coach Dave Van Horn is determined the Hogs will be back to their normal self and bounce back for the REAL postseason to begin. If the coach that has been coaching longer than some of us have even been alive (30 years) isn’t worried about the slump, why should we?
Is it concerning? Most definitely.
Is it worth losing sleep over? Not at all.
A major positive to come out of this tournament was the pitching. Arkansas gave up a total of nine runs and 14 hits in three games. Isaiah Campbell could have gone deeper into the game, but he was on a pitch count to help keep his arm fresh for regionals. Isaiah’s final stat line was: 5.0 ip, 2 hits, 0 earned runs, 3 walks, and 3 strikeouts. He also lowered his already impressive ERA from 2.50 to a magnificent 2.37. Another bright spot in Hoover was Connor Noland. Connor seems to have found his groove outside of Fayetteville. The two-sport athlete has given up just two earned runs in his last 9 1/3 innings away from home over his last two starts. Connor is quietly becoming one of the more reliable pitchers on the Arkansas pitching staff. He has a 1.56 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 9.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his last seven starts according to Andrew Hutchinson of @HawgBeat.
Looking back on the week it was evident the Hogs were never “all hands on deck”. And that’s O.K. Fans have to look at the big picture and trust one of, if not THE best manager in all of college baseball. I simply can not see this team continuing this brutal offensive stretch at Baum this weekend. To me, the depth of the bullpen will be what derails the Hogs this year, NOT their offense.
The selection show will air on ESPNU on Monday at 11:00 AM central time. Expect Arkansas to be a #5 or #6 national seed.
Having lost almost EVERYONE to the MLB Draft or to graduation last year, no one, not even DVH could have expected a repeat performance of last year. A division title in quite possibly the toughest division in college baseball is nothing to be upset about. This season has been great, and it can only get better.
See you at Baum this weekend.