Story by Wyatt Vaughn
Photos by Robert Noelke
Not even a muggy, rainy Monday in Omaha could put a damper on the excitement radiating around the stadium as Texas Tech took on Arkansas during the 2019 College World Series. But at the end of the day, someone’s parade had to get rained on, and it was the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Coming into an elimination game, both teams had an eerily similar path up until this point. After both teams lost their opening games on Saturday, Arkansas and Texas Tech were fighting for their lives with backs against the wall. Before that, both were top 8 national seeds, both won their respective regional, both won their respective super regional in 3 games, and both were up ended by non ranked teams in the first round of the World Series and now had to fight for their lives.
The early innings of the game favored the Razorbacks, as they got off to a three-run lead in the first three innings. Heston Kjerstad started the scoring with a solo home run in the second inning off of Texas Tech starter Caleb Kilian, and Casey Martin hit a clutch 2-out triple that scored a run for the Hogs. Then it was Arkansas’ leading hitter Matt Goodheart who joined the party with a two-out RBI single to score Martin from third.
But the Red Raiders were not ready to throw in the towel, as they scored four unanswered runs with a trio of round-trippers, starting in the fourth inning. Cameron Warren got it started with a no-doubt two run bomb that scored Josh Jung from first after he hustled out a fielder’s choice. And in the fifth, it was former Arkansas Razorback Easton Murrell who got back at his old team with a solo shot to tie the game at three. Enter Josh Jung, eighth overall pick in this past MLB draft, who drove a solo home run to the opposite field, giving Texas Tech its first lead of the game in the sixth inning.
But the Razorbacks kept on fighting. In the top of the eighth inning, with fresh Texas Tech pitcher Dane Havemen in the game, Jack Kenley delivered. With runners on first and third with one out, Kenley worked an eight-pitch at-bat that ended with a sacrifice fly to left-field, which tied the game in the eighth inning.
But the Raiders would not be beaten today. After a two-out walk to Cameron Warren, Cody Masters came up with possibly the most clutch hit of his entire life. On a 3-1 count, Masters crushed a ball off of the right field wall, giving Warren enough time to score all the way from first, as Masters had a two-out RBI triple.
In the top of the ninth, the Razorbacks attempted to make a comeback with a HBP and a single to start the inning, putting runners on first and second with no outs. But Texas Tech’s Taylor Floyd shut the door on the Razorbacks, getting three quick outs, getting himself out of his own jam, and sending the Razorbacks back to Fayetteville.
For the Arkansas Razorbacks, this game was a disheartening way to finish a season that often felt like a fantasy. With today’s loss, they finished the season at 46-20 and will go into next season as one of the favorites to contend for an SEC championship.
For the Red Raiders of Texas Tech, this season-saving win puts them at 45-19 on the season, but only keeps them alive for so long. They will return to action on Wednesday June 19 at 6 pm Central to take on the loser of Michigan vs Florida State in an elimination game.