Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn: ‘We still have work to do’

The Arkansas Razorbacks on Friday eliminated the defending national champion Florida Gators, 5-2, at the College World Series.

With the victory, the Razorbacks remained undefeated in three games at the tournament and advanced to a best-of-three title round that will start on Monday.

Mississippi State and Oregon State play Saturday at 7 p.m., with the winner moving on to meet the Razorbacks for the NCAA Division I baseball championship.

A crowd announced at 25,016 attended at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha when two powers in the Southeastern Conference met in the lower bracket finals.

Not only did Arkansas qualify for the title round, it beat Florida in one game and avoided a second meeting that would have been held Saturday, with the Razorbacks almost certainly poised to use ace pitcher Blaine Knight.

Now, the Razorbacks can start Knight on Monday.


Arkansas is playing in the CWS championship round for the second time and the first since 1979.


Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn:

“Top to bottom, it was a good effort by our team,” the 16th-year coach told “It means a lot to be here, but we still have work to do.”

Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan:

“I like playing Arkansas,” O’Sullivan said in comments reported by ArkansasOnline. “They’re always well coached. It’s almost like we’re playing ourselves. They’re playing at a very high level right now.

“The way they’re pitching and playing offensively and defensively, they’ve got a really good chance at this thing.”

How it happened

Casey Martin produced four hits and Luke Bonfield and Dominic Fletcher drove in two runs apiece for Arkansas.

The Razorbacks took charge in the fifth inning when Martin led off with a double down the left field line.

After a Heston Kjerstad ground ball moved Martin to third, Martin scored on another ground ball, this one by Bonfield.

Fletcher followed by pulling a 2-run home run to right field, which increased Arkansas’ lead to 4-0.

A sophomore outfielder from Cypress, California, Fletcher improved his three-game statistics in the CWS to 8 of 14 with two home runs and 8 RBI.

Martin, a freshman infielder from Lonoke, Arkansas, is also 8 for 14 in three games and has scored six runs.

In all, the Razorbacks have produced 38 hits combined in victories over Texas, Texas Tech and Florida, the No. 1-seeded team in the NCAA tournament.

Meanwhile, the Arkansas pitching staff continued to shine.

Isaiah Campbell, Jake Reindl and Matt Cronin combined to hold the Gators to three hits.

Campbell, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Olathe, Kansas, emerged as a key to the game.

Entering with a 4-6 record and a 4.19 earned run average, he started and held Florida to two runs on two hits in 5 and 1/3 innings.

Campbell struck out eight while outdueling Florida ace Brady Singer, a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals.

Singer gave up four runs in five innings. Arkansas pitching held Florida batting stars Jonathan India and JJ Schwarz to a combined 0 for 8.

Texas connections

A highlight play came in the bottom of the ninth when Arkansas right fieelder Eric Cole ran into foul territory and made a leaping catch, snatching a ball that was falling into the stands, for the first out of the inning.

Cole played at Southlake Carroll High School, and freshman star Heston Kjerstad is from Amarillo, where he played for Randall High School.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn played junior college baseball for McClennan College in Waco.


Arkansas 47-19
Florida 49-21