Regional report: Van Horn binds DeBriyn
STILLWATER, Okla. –Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn tied his mentor in the NCAA record books on Saturday night.
The Razorbacks’ 20–12 win over Oklahoma State was Van Horn’s 1,161st as an NCAA baseball coach. That tied former Arkansas coach Norm DeBriyn and former Clemson coach Bill Wilhelm for 34th in NCAA history.
Van Horn played for DeBriyn at Arkansas in 1982 and spent four seasons as a graduate assistant coach under him from 1985 to 1988. When DeBriyn retired as Razorbacks coach in 2002, Van Horn was hired to replace him.
DeBriyn had a record 1,161-650 in 33 seasons at Arkansas from 1970-2002. Wilhelm was 1,161-536 in 36 seasons at Clemson from 1958-93.
Van Horn’s NCAA record of 1,161-588 includes 20 seasons at Arkansas, 5 seasons at Nebraska, 3 seasons at Northwestern (La.) State and 1 season at Central Missouri, a championship-winning Division II program national during Van Horn’s only season as coach in 1994. The results of all four-year colleges that compete in the NCAA are recognized in the record books.
Van Horn also won 214 games in five seasons at Texarkana Community College that don’t count toward his NCAA record.
When asked Saturday to be in the driver’s seat at Stillwater, Van Horn and Arkansas second baseman Robert Moore alluded to last year’s super regional loss to State from North Carolina.
The Razorbacks were one win away from claiming this super regional, but lost a pair of games in one run to the Wolfpack.
“Our guys, they got it,” Van Horn said. “They know we haven’t done anything. They are still experiencing a few heartbreaks from last year. They know what it is. You must finish.
“Last year, everyone packed up to go to Omaha,” Moore said, “and in 48 hours we were done. We haven’t done anything yet.”
Most weapons available
Van Horn said he expected most of the seven pitchers who pitched Saturday would be available again Sunday if needed.
Zack Morris, who threw 49 pitches, would be “doubtful,” said Van Horn, who added, “but I think anybody if we need an inning could give us an inning.”
The Razorbacks are scheduled to play at 6 p.m. against Oklahoma State or Missouri State. These teams will play a playoff game Sunday at noon.
Arkansas hasn’t announced a starting pitcher for Sunday’s game, but indications are right-hander Jaxon Wiggins will get the ball first. Wiggins has been in the Razorbacks’ weekend rotation all season and is yet to pitch at Stillwater.
Wiggins grew up in Roland, Okla., near the Arkansas border.
“Wiggins is chomping at the bit to get into the game,” Van Horn said. “He hasn’t pitched yet this weekend. So I don’t think it matters where he comes from, he’s just ready to throw.
McEntire locked up
Arkansas right-hander Will McEntire recorded the last four outs on Saturday, but he came close to being called much earlier.
McEntire warmed up in the Razorbacks bullpen as starter Hagen Smith worked a 38-pitch first inning. Smith was eventually replaced by Evan Taylor in the second set, and McEntire didn’t come on until the eighth – more than four hours after his first warm-up.
Van Horn said McEntire’s night showed how “locked in” he was.
“He just wanted the ball,” Van Horn said. “He knew what we needed to help the team, and I think that’s kind of what’s happened here over the past few days.”
HR at Stillwater
Stillwater Regional teams combined to hit 16 homers on Saturday to bring the two-day regional total to 24 homers at O’Brate Stadium.
Arkansas hit seven home runs in their win over Oklahoma State. The Cowboys hit two homers.
In the previous game Saturday, Grand Canyon hit four home runs and Missouri State hit three home runs. All of the Bears’ home runs came in the eighth and ninth innings as they rallied from a six-run deficit to win 8-7.
“It’s nervous right now,” Van Horn said. “I mean, it’s that time of year, there’s a breeze blowing. It’s not like it’s 20mph, but it’s blowing a bit and the balls are really flying. We we notice it in batting practice. We noticed it the other day in our one hour and 15 minute practice and the wind was kind of blowing from the right, but the ball was still traveling.
“I just think it’s a bit that they look thin and the guys are locked in all around. There are a lot of guys who swing bats well.
Arkansas right fielder Chris Lanzilli’s three-run home run in the ninth inning was the 50th of his career.
Lanzill hit eight home runs in his only season with the Razorbacks. He hit 42 home runs during his Wake Forest career from 2018-21.
Lanzilli is one of eight active Division I players with 50 or more home runs. One of those players is Oklahoma State’s Griffin Doersching, who has 60 career homers.
Calm Water Series
Arkansas improved to 2-0 at this year’s Stillwater Regional and won five straight playoff games on campus at Oklahoma State.
The Razorbacks went 3-0 in 2015 when the Cowboys held a regional at Reynolds Stadium, their home ballpark that closed when O’Brate Stadium opened last year. Arkansas has won games against Oral Roberts (8-6), Oklahoma State (7-5) and St. John’s (4-3).
Arkansas has an all-time playoff record of 6-6 at Stillwater. The Razorbacks also played regionals here in 1983, 1986 and 1988.
Arkansas is 2-0 in a regional for the fourth straight postseason.
The Razorbacks haven’t lost a regional game in 2018 or 2019 at Baum-Walker Stadium, and Arkansas went 3-1 in the regional game last year when they won their only game against New Jersey Institute. of Technology and won twice in three games against Nebraska.
In Chapel Hill
In a game of interest to the Razorbacks, Virginia Commonwealth beat North Carolina 4-3 on Saturday in the Chapel Hill (NC) Regional winners group.
Regional champions from Stillwater and Chapel Hill will meet in a super regional next week.
VCU (42-18) won its 17th straight game and, like Arkansas, needs one more win to clinch the regional title. North Carolina and Georgia will play a playoff game on Sunday, and both teams need to win three games in two days to qualify for super regionals.
Regional host Tar Heels will be without head coach Scott Forbes for the next two games following his ejection on Saturday.
Big day for the SEC
SEC teams scored 125 points in nine regional games on Saturday.
Four teams scored at least 20 points. In addition to Arkansas’ 20-12 victory at Oklahoma State, Auburn beat Florida State 21-7, Georgia beat Hofstra 24-1 and Vanderbilt beat New Mexico State 21-1.
SEC teams went 8-1 in regional play on Saturday. The only loss was by Florida, which lost 9-4 at home to Oklahoma.
The Razorbacks are one of five SEC teams that are 2-0 in their regionals. Tennessee, Texas A&M and Auburn lead the regionals at their home grounds, and LSU advanced to the championship round at the regional in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Ole Miss is 1-0 at a regional in Coral Gables, Fla., which was delayed a day due to bad weather.
Smith had his shortest start of the season Saturday night when he went 1 1/3 innings against Oklahoma State.
In Smith’s 13 previous starts, the shortest outing was 2 1/3 innings in Stanford’s 5-0 win over the Razorbacks on Feb. 27 in Round Rock, Texas.
Heading into Saturday night’s game, Smith has pitched in relief in his last two games, going 1 1/3 innings at Alabama and 1 inning against Florida in the SEC tournament.
Oklahoma State shortstop Marcus Brown, a sophomore from Springdale who played at Shiloh Christian High School, came on Saturday in the first inning with the bases loaded and two outs.
Smith got Brown on a floor against third baseman Cayden Wallace, who Smith says is his best friend.
After Wallace fielded Brown’s grounder, he touched third base to end the inning.
Wallace, a sophomore from Greenbrier, and Brown played summer ball together for several years.
Brown also failed Wallace in the second set.
Lanzilli was first deemed safe at first base when he started the second inning with a ground ball that Oklahoma State third baseman Nolan McLean threw high to first baseman David Mendham .
Medham made a leaping catch and tagged Lanzilli, but referee Travis Reininger called him safe.
After a video review, Lanzilli was ruled out with Mendham taunting him in the back before he touched the first base sack.
The reverse call could become especially important when the next batter, Moore, hits a home run.
The Razorbacks took a 1-0 lead on a first-inning home run for the second straight game.
Brady Slavens hit a home run on Saturday night after Wallace hit a home run in the first inning of the Razorbacks’ 7-1 win over the Grand Canyon on Friday.
Slavens hit his 14th homer to tie Braydon Webb for the team lead.
Wallace, who homered twice against the Grand Canyon, homered again on Saturday night to also tie the team lead with 14.
Van Horn wore a jersey for the first two games of the Stillwater Regional rather than his usual sweater.
“What do you think?” Van Horn said when asked about the wardrobe change. “Yes, I decided to wear it.”
Van Horn’s last photo in an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette jersey top was from the 2017 NCAA Fayetteville Regional Finals against Missouri State.
Van Horn now wears number 21 after wearing number 2 in his previous 19 seasons as Razorbacks coach.
Shortstop Jalen Battles now wears No. 2 for Arkansas after Van Horn promised him if he would return this season rather than turn pro.