Even though the buzz of Sunday night’s win hasn’t worn off for the fans, the team has been focusing hard and preparing for their next opponent, the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Razorbacks handled the dreaded Texas Longhorns by a score of 11-5. That game included a near three hour weather delay and some pretty impressive batting from the Razorbacks. The Red Raiders will need to continue playing great defense if they are to win and advance to the semifinals of the College World Series.
With a win, the Red Raiders would get two full days off, not playing again until Friday. This would mean that you could rest your relievers, specifically Ty Harpenau and potentially Jose Quezada. No matter the outcome, I still believe that Davis Martin will get the start in the third game of the series. Tonight however, Caleb Kilian will get the start for the Red Raiders. Kilian has been this team’s ace this year, and I believe the team feels most confident when he is on the mound. I believe Coach Tadlock used his gameplan to perfection on Sunday by using his third best starter in Dusek and Shetter (I think we can combine them into one now).
The Razorbacks on the other hand used their starter in the win against Texas. Blaine Knight, who is undefeated on the season and was taken in the third round of the MLB Draft, won the game after pitching 5 innings against Texas. The Razorbacks will now look to Kacey Murphy, their second best starter on the team. He is 8-5 on the season with a 3.12 ERA. He also has 74 strikeouts and 20 walks on the year. Another thing to note about the Razorbacks is that they threw 5 different pitchers yesterday, something potentially due to the gigantic rain delay. However, their two best relief pitchers, Jake Reindl and closer Matt Cronin, have not pitched yet in the College World Series. I think these two will get the nod to close a game for the Razorbacks if needed. This team has a very talented bullpen, much like most College World Series teams, and is not afraid to go to it after four innings.
This Arkansas team has one of the best offenses in the country. They have 5 batters batting over .300, and have a couple of really standout guys. Heston Kjerstad had a game to remember against the Texas Longhorns on Sunday. The freshman standout from Amarillo, Texas went 3-5 and had 3 RBI as well. He is leading the team with a .346 batting average, 84 hits, 15 doubles, and is tied for the lead with 14 home runs. This team has a ton of guys that have all hit 10 or more home runs on the season. Casey Martin has also been a rock batting from the second stop in that lineup as he is also hitting .346. Martin also has 13 home runs and 47 RBI on the season. He and Kjerstad make a formidable duo out of the two and three spots in the lineup.
The Red Raiders have relied more on their pitching over the past couple of games. This offense, however, is still potent. Gabe Holt out of the leadoff spot has been the most clutch player on the team over the past few game, coming through with a 2 RBI single to give the Red Raiders’ the lead in the last game against Florida. Josh Jung and Grant Little have also made impacts as Little made a huge defensive play to get the game going for the Red Raiders defensively. Josh Jung has also been a hit machine, getting 2 against Florida. He is one hit away from 100 on the season, as he is now hitting .390 on the year.
The Red Raiders might also have to battle the weather as thunderstorms are expected in Omaha tonight. We will be keeping you up to date with the news as soon as we receive it via our Twitter page @vivathematadors.