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Darr Delivers as Arkansas
Advances to Omaha
By Paul Thomas
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
Paul Thomas is a junior at Florida State who
began covering FSU athletics in November and has covered the
baseball team all season for The Osceola and Warchant.com.
- For the first time since 2004, the Arkansas Razorbacks are
going to the College World Series. Arkansas, which is yet to
lose in tournament play, defeated Florida State 9-8. But the
Razorbacks didn’t do it without drama.
After watching FSU (45-18) take a one-run lead with three runs
in the top of the ninth, the Razorbacks (39-22) won on a two-run
walk-off double from Andrew Darr. The senior was the offensive
star for Arkansas, going 4 for 5 with a home run, two doubles
and three RBI.
“I’m at a loss for words right now to be honest,” Darr said
“Just a great feeling for the entire team after having a tough
top of the ninth. Then we just fought and found a way to get
back in it and the rest is history.”
Trailing 7-5 with a runner on first and two outs in the top of
the ninth, FSU’s Tyler Holt was down to his last strike with a
1-2 count. Holt doubled down the right-field line to put the two
tying runs in scoring position. Stephen Cardullo then battled
for a two-run single with a 2-2 count and advanced to second on
the throw home. Jason Stidham then followed suit with a RBI
single to give the Seminoles an 8-7 lead heading to the bottom
of the ninth.
worked myself into a 2-2 count, got mostly sliders,” Cardullo
said “I think I saw three or four in that at-bat, so when he
threw it that last time I’d seen it enough to put a good swing
the bottom of the ninth, FSU pitcher Jack Posey got Andy Wilkins
(right) to pop up to first to beginning the inning. Then Bo
Bigham walked on a full count, and Zack Cox followed that up
with a single. With runners on first and second and one out,
Darr hit a deep line drive to the gap in left-center.
Leftfielder Mike McGee tried to relay the ball to Cardullo, but
by the time Cardullo turned to relay the ball, Cox already had
scored the winning run to send the Razorbacks to Omaha.
Bigham’s at-bat was just a 21-year-old at-bat right there,”
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “He battled, battled and
battled, finally drew a walk, got a big hit and then Andrew hit
the double before I really even knew what happened to be honest
with you. I saw a breaking ball, ball shooting into the alley
and I was just hoping Zack could get there.”
the fifth inning, the Seminoles jumped out to a four-run lead.
Holt got things going after back-to-back singles, driving in
Mike Meschke on a double to center. After a RBI ground out from
Cardullo, McGee hit his 19th home run of the season
to put the ’Noles up 5-1.
Florida State looked to be in control, thanks in large part to a
good outing from starter Brian Busch, who gave up just two runs
(each solo home runs) in six innings, walking just one and
striking out eight.
“Didn’t [Brian Busch] look great?” FSU coach Mike Martin said.
“It was so encouraging to see him get out there and battle
against a very good club. He just showed what he’s all about. He
made quality pitches when he needed to make them.”
Darr chased Busch from the game with a long home run to begin
the seventh inning. With Busch gone, the bullpen continued its
struggles from Friday. Relievers Geoff Parker, John Gast and
Jimmy Marshall gave up five runs on two hits and three walks.
Gast looked to have gotten out of the inning, but an error by
Stuart Tapley allowed two runs to score. The inning ended with
Arkansas leading 6-5.
the eighth, the bullpen struggled to find the strike zone again.
After giving up a leadoff double to Darr, Marshall walked two
more to load the bases with just one out. Mark Peterson entered
and walked in a run to put the Razorbacks up two. Posey replaced
Peterson and got DH Scott Lyons to ground into an inning-ending
“It’s a game that we have played and sometimes you just have a
bad outing,” Martin said “Unfortunately there were some things
that happened today that were unfortunate. I will not say one
critical word about this baseball team because to go back and
dwell... like I told the guys – the sun is going to come up
tomorrow, and we are going to move on. We will use a lot of what
we learned this year to try and get better next year.”
Arkansas, the next step will be in Omaha. The Razorbacks will
take on Cal State Fullerton in the first round. The last time
the Razorbacks went to the College World Series, it also was
after a two-game sweep of Florida State.
“We’re going to Omaha, I’m pretty excited to say those words,”
Wilkins said. “It’s pretty unbelievable. The whole team just
fought and fought and fought the whole year. We went through
some pretty tough times and it’s really paying off now.”
(photo by Jimmy Jones)