FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The Arkansas Razorbacks baseball team was looking for a chance to host this week’s Super Regionals at Baum-Walker Stadium. However, the one team which had their number did so once again Monday afternoon in the Fayetteville Regional Finals.
For the third time this season, the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs defeated the Razorbacks, this time was a 12-4 win to send TCU into this week’s Super Regionals and end Arkansas’ baseball season at 43-18.
The Razorbacks staved off elimination with a 6-4 win over Santa Clara late Sunday night after the Hogs opened the regional Friday afternoon with a 13-6 over those same Broncos.
However, the Razorbacks once again struggled against the Big 12 Tournament champion TCU, which routed the Hogs 20-5 in Saturday’s regional winners’-bracket finals.
In Monday afternoon’s regional final, playing its third game in 24 hours, Arkansas came out energized and took an early lead. The first three Razorback batters reached and loaded the bases for Ben McLaughlin, who drove home the first run on his sacrifice fly to left.
TCU took the lead with two runs in the bottom half of the second, but Arkansas came roaring back in the fifth inning. Back-to-back home runs by Jace Bohrofen, who clobbered his team-leading 16th homer of the year off the batter’s eye, and Jared Wegner, who swatted his 15th of the season, propelled the Hogs back to a 4-2 advantage.
Bohrofen finished the game 1-for-3 with two runs batted in, concluding the year with a team-leading .318/.436/.612 slash line. He racked up a team-best 31 extra-base hits, including 15 doubles, and 52 RBI, second most among all Razorback hitters.
Hagen Smith, who entered in relief of starter Cody Adcock in the second inning, kept the Horned Frogs at bay over his 3.2 innings of work on the mound. The left-hander struck out six while allowing just one run, finishing his All-America campaign with a team-leading 109 strikeouts over 71.2 innings on the year.
After Smith departed, however, TCU broke through for nine more runs against the Arkansas bullpen. The Horned Frogs used a three-run sixth and a five-run eighth to put the game away for good, sealing their 12-4 regional-clinching win.
In the first win over Santa Clara, the Razorbacks used a pair of five-run innings to race past the Broncos.
Santa Clara jumped out to an early two-run advantage thanks to a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. The Broncos strung three consecutive base hits together, taking their only lead of the day on a one-out, two-run single to left center.
Cole Kitchen, Santa Clara’s starting pitcher, cruised through his first three innings of work on the mound before running into trouble in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Razorback offense broke through for five runs on a sacrifice fly, a pair of walks and four hits, highlighted by Kendall Diggs’ two-out three-run single.
Diggs’ bases-clearing knock proved to be the jolt that Arkansas needed. Will McEntire, who entered in relief of starter Hunter Hollan (2.1 innings pitched, two runs allowed and two strikeouts) in the top of the third, took full advantage of the run support by spinning five strong innings to settle the game down, striking out two while allowing just three runs on his way to his eighth win of the year.
The Hogs’ second five-run inning of the ball game came in the bottom half of the sixth. Arkansas scored a pair on Tavian Josenberger’s two-run opposite-field homer before adding three more on back-to-back-to-back bases-loaded walks.
Josenberger, who went 2-for-6 with two runs scored and two runs batted in, was one of two Razorbacks to finish with multiple hits in the win. Wegner also racked up a pair of base knocks, going 2-for-4 with a run scored, an RBI and a walk.
With Arkansas ahead by seven, Caleb Cali’s three-run blast in the seventh put the game away for good. His home run into the Hog Pen, which extended the Razorbacks’ advantage to 13-3, was his ninth of the season.
In the second win over Santa Clara, righthander Brady Tygart delivered one of the best performances of his career.
Tygart went a career-long 5.2 innings and allowed just two earned runs while striking out six, one shy of his career high. He departed Sunday night’s ball game with Arkansas ahead 4-3, thanks to the Razorback offense’s early run production, which included Bohrofen’s first-inning RBI double as well as Wegner’s 14th home run of the season.
After the Hogs came out and scored a pair of runs in the top of the first inning, Wegner hammered a solo home run in the top half of the third to give Arkansas a 3-0 advantage. Parker Rowland would then push the Razorbacks’ lead to 4-0 with a two-out RBI single back up the middle in the fourth.
Santa Clara threatened with a three-run sixth, but McEntire, who earned the win in Friday’s game against the Broncos, emerged from the bullpen in relief of Tygart and escaped without further damage. The veteran right-hander spun 2.2 innings of one-run ball and struck out five, setting the table for Diggs’ clutch eighth-inning homer.
The Razorback designated hitter socked a two-run blast off the scoreboard in right center to put Arkansas up 6-3. Diggs’ home run was his 12th of the season, and his two runs batted in raised his season total to a team-leading 63.
Arkansas began Sunday with its most lopsided loss ever in a postseason game, suffering a 20-5 setback at the hands of TCU. The Hogs hammered four home runs, including a pair of blasts by Josenberger, but could not keep up with the Horned Frogs’ explosive offense, which was paced by Tre Richardson’s three-homer, 11-RBI performance.
Josenberger finished the game 2-for-4 with a team-leading three RBI. The Razorback centerfielder swatted a lead-off home run in the bottom half of the first before connecting on a two-run shot — his second dinger of the day — in the fifth.
Bohrofen and Harold Coll also chipped in with a pair of solo home runs against TCU. The game also included a pair of lightning delays midway between the third and eighth innings that combined to total nearly two hours.