TCU rolls past Arkansas to win the NCAA Fayetteville Regional

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

The TCU Horned Frogs stormed to the NCAA Fayetteville Regional baseball title on Monday with a 12-4 victory over the host Arkansas Razorbacks.

Now it’s on to the Super Regional round of the tournament against the Indiana State Sycamores.

As of 6 p.m. Monday, officials had not announced the game site for the best-of-three, series between TCU (40-22) and Indiana State (45-15).

Kurtis Byrne blasted two home runs and Austin Davis and Tre Richardson hit one apiece as the Frogs won their ninth straight game and completed a 3-0 sweep of their competition in Fayetteville.

San Antonio’s Anthony Silva figured in two of the scoring rallies. In the fourth inning he was hit by a pitch and scored on a two-RBI single by Davis. In the sixth, the TCU freshman from Clark led off with a single to right field and scored the go-ahead run when Davis blasted a two-run homer.

Ben Abelt (3-3) earned the victory by pitching 4 and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. The lefthander with a quirky delivery allowed only one hit and two walks. He struck out four.

TCU entered the regional in Fayetteville as the No. 2 seed. On Friday, they downed three-seed Arizona 12-4 behind Brayden Taylor’s four-hit, six-RBI barrage.

On Saturday, the Frogs waited out a weather and ultimately never played, pushing the schedule back a day. Sunday, they poured it on the top-seeded Razorbacks, 20-5, with Richardson hitting three home runs and driving in 11.

The Razorbacks, who entered the NCAA tournament as the 64-team field’s No. 3 overall seed, had to drop down to the losers bracket to beat Santa Clara on Sunday night just to stay alive.

As a result, Arkansas entered play Monday needing two victories to win the regional.

For the Razorbacks, it wasn’t meant to be. Even after hitting back-to-back home runs and taking a 4-2 lead in the top of the fifth, they couldn’t hold on. The Frogs scored one run in their half of the fifth, three in the sixth, one in the seventh and five in the eighth.

The eighth was memorable for the Frogs. Cole Fontenelle ripped a two-run double. Richardson followed with a two-run homer to center. Then Byrne hit one out to right field for his second homer in two innings.

Offensively, TCU is putting it together at the right time, clinching a regional title en route to the team’s sixth double-figure scoring output since May 24.

NCAA regionals
How the Texas teams have fared

Texas: (41-20) Beat host Miami for the title on Sunday in Coral Gables, Fla.
Texas Tech: (41-23) Lost to host Florida in the title game Monday in Gainesville, Fla.
TCU: (40-22) Defeated host Arkansas Monday to win the title in Fayetteville, Ark.
Texas A&M: (38-26) Scheduled to play at Stanford in the title game Monday night.
Dallas Baptist (47-16) Lost to Oral Roberts in the finals Sunday at Stillwater, Okla.
Sam Houston State: (39-25) Eliminated after three games at Baton Rouge, La.

Richardson-led TCU romps to a 20-5 victory over national No. 3 seed Arkansas

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Second baseman Tre Richardson hit three home runs, including a couple of grand slams, as the TCU Horned Frogs overwhelmed the national No. 3-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks 20-5 Sunday in a weather-delayed winners bracket game at the NCAA Fayetteville Regional.

The teams were set to play on Saturday but had to scratch it and push it back to Sunday. In addition, Sunday’s game was also halted twice because of lightning.

Schedule chaos didn’t seem to bother Richardson, who went five for six on the day and drove in 11 runs. With the victory, the Horned Frogs improved to 2-0 in Fayetteville and advanced to the finals, needing only one victory to win the regional title.

Arkansas, on the other hand, will play Santa Clara in a losers bracket game, with the winner of that contest feeding into the finals against TCU. The Horned Frogs’ opponent will need to win twice in the finals to win the title and advance into next week’s Super Regional round.

TCU came out swinging the bats early, burying Arkansas with six runs in the first inning, five in the second and three in the third. Richardson hit opposite-field grand slams in the first and second. Brayden Taylor, considered a potential first-round pick in this summer’s Major League Baseball draft, added a three-run blast in the third.

Taylor, surging late in the season, finished three for five at the plate with four RBIs. He is on a roll in the NCAA tournament with seven hits in 10 at bats. He also has 10 RBIs, including six on Friday in a 12-4 victory over the Arizona Wildcats.

Schedule updates: Sam Houston State-Tulane to resume play at noon Sunday

Inclement weather on Saturday forced officials to reschedule games in both the Baton Rouge and Fayetteville regionals.

Lightning in the Baton Rouge area caused the Tulane-Sam Houston elimination game to be suspended. The game will re-start at noon Sunday in the top of the seventh inning with Sam Houston holding a 7-2 lead.

It’s an early elimination game in the bracket, with both teams 0-1 in the regional. The LSU-Oregon State winners bracket game, with both teams 1-0, has been rescheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday. LSU is the national No. 5 seed.

In Fayetteville, officials have rescheduled the TCU Horned Frogs and the national No. 3-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks to play at 2 p.m. Sunday in a winners bracket game.

Both TCU and Arkansas are 1-0 in the four-team regional and are hoping to move ahead in the double-elimination format unscathed.

The winner will advance to Monday’s regional title round. The loser will play Santa Clara at 8 p.m. on Sunday night. On Saturday, regional No. 4-seeded Santa Clara ousted Arizona, 9-3.

Arkansas eliminates defending NCAA champion Kansas, 72-71

The season has come to an end for the defending national champion Kansas Jayhawks. For the Arkansas Razorbacks, they have advanced, and they’re heading to Las Vegas with their loyal fans for the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.

It all unfolded Saturday, when the eighth-seeded Razorbacks rallied to knock off the No. 1 Jayhawks 72-71 in a West region round of 32 game at Des Moines, Iowa.

With Davonte Davis scoring 21 of his 25 points in the second half and Ricky Council IV hitting clutch free throws in the final minutes, the Razorbacks knocked out the Jayhawks, who became the second top-seed in the tournament to lose in 24 hours.

On Friday night, Farleigh Dickinson shook the basketball landscape by becoming only the second No. 16 seed in 38 years to beat a No. 1, as the Knights eliminated the Purdue Boilermakers in the East region, and now Kansas has gone down, as well.

Arkansas coach Eric Musselman, celebrating with the Razorbacks’ fans, ripped off his shirt at courtside in the moments after the victory and had to put it back on for his televised post-game interview.

“I mean, that’s such an unbelievable win,” Musselman said on the CBS telecast. “I keep telling people that we’re getting better. Not many teams can get better this time of year. I’m so, I’ve never been prouder of a team like tonight.”

Asked how his team could come back from an eight-point halftime deficit against the regular-season champions in the Big 12, Musselman acknowledged that it had a lot to do with Davis, a 6-4 junior guard from Jacksonville, Ark.

“I love this kid so much,” the coach said.

Davis was in tears as he tried to explain how he met his coach’s challenge to become a leader on the team.

“I don’t know,” Davis said, bending over and pausing to compose himself. “It’s crazy. I feel real glad we came out with the win.”

Asked about the tears, Davis replied, “Putting in the work. This team has struggled, and we figured it out, and I’m glad we did at the right time. And I hope we continue to do it.”

The Razorbacks will advance to play next week against the winner between the UConn Huskies and Saint Mary’s (Calif.) Gaels, who will play Sunday in Albany, N.Y.

Despite the absence of veteran head coach Bill Self, Kansas pushed out to an early lead and held it for most of the game. Led by Davis, Arkansas gradually cut into the lead throughout the second half and eventually took over the game in the final minutes.

Self had a heart procedure and was hospitalized last week during the Big 12 tournament. He didn’t coach in the conference title game against Texas last Saturday, and then was released from the hospital on Sunday.

The coach was with the team in Des Moines but wasn’t on the bench for either Thursday’s victory over Howard or in the loss to Arkansas. Assistant coach Norm Roberts worked all three games for the Jayhawks.

Forward Jalen Wilson scored 20 points for Kansas and center K.J. Adams added 14. Guards Kevin McCullar, Jr. and Dajuan Harris., added 13 and 12 points, respectively.

McCullar left the Texas Tech Red Raiders after last season and transferred to play as a senior at Kansas. He formerly was one of the best players in San Antonio for the Wagner High School Thunderbirds.

Midwest Region
Round of 32

No. 2 seed Texas 71, No. 8 Arkansas 66, at Des Moines
No. 1 seed Houston 81, No. 9 Auburn 64, at Birmingham

Ole Miss shuts out Arkansas, 2-0, advances to CWS title round

Tied for last place in the Southeastern Conference standings in early May, the Ole Miss Rebels hardly seemed worthy of the NCAA tournament, much less the championship round of the College World Series.

Ole Miss players and coaches weren’t listening to their critics then, and they certainly aren’t paying too much attention to them now.

The Rebels are headed for the CWS title round after a 2-0 victory Thursday against the Arkansas Razorbacks.

They’ll meet the Oklahoma Sooners in a best-of-three series for the national title starting Saturday in Omaha, Neb.

In a winner-take-all, CWS semifinal for a chance to play in title series, Dylan DeLucia pitched a nine-inning gem, blanking the Razorbacks on four hits.

DeLucia struck out seven and walked none.

Trailing by two runs, the Razorbacks had a chance to do some damage in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t score.

Robert Moore reached base with a two-out, infield single. San Antonio’s Jalen Battles kept it going when he hit a ball toward the middle that was misplayed by Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez.

At that point, Moore was at second base, and Battles was standing on first on a play that was scored as an error on Gonzalez.

Brady Slavens, who hit a long home run in Arkansas’ 3-2 victory over Ole Miss on Wednesday afternoon, stepped to the plate. But he grounded out to second base to end the inning and the threat.

Ole Miss took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on Kevin Graham’s RBI double. The Rebels made it 2-0 in the seventh on Calvin Harris’ run-scoring single.

While DeLucia (8-2) earned the victory, Arkansas ace Connor Noland (8-6) took the loss.

Noland worked eight innings. He yieded two runs, both earned, on seven hits. Noland was sharp with his control, walking none while fanning seven.

Coming up

CWS championship round (Oklahoma vs. Ole Miss, best of three)
Saturday — 6 p.m.
Sunday — 2 p.m.
Monday — 6 p.m. (if necessary)


Oklahoma 45-22
Ole Miss 40-23


In early May, Ole Miss was 7-14 in the SEC and was in danger of missing the conference’s postseason tournament. From there, the team started to click and won eight of 11 games. It was good enough for a spot in the NCAA tournament as the last at-large team selected.

Once they made the NCAA postseason, the Rebels got hot. They clicked off wins against Arizona and Miami and then Arizona again to win the Coral Gables regional. On the road again in the Super Regionals, they won two straight — both by shutout — at Southern Miss, the Conference USA champion, in Hattiesburg.

In all, they had strung together five straight wins leading into the CWS.

Ole Miss continued to play well in Omaha. DeLucia got the victory in a 5-1 victory over Auburn. Freshman left-handed pitcher Hunter Elliott followed by leading the Rebels in an 13-5 victory over Arkansas. In the semifinals, the Rebels met the Razorbacks again. Arkansas won the first game, 3-2, but Ole Miss responded with DeLucia going the distance in the 2-0 shutout.

Ole Miss has two Texans on its roster. One is pitcher John Gaddis, from Corpus Christi’s Calallen High School. The other is infielder Peyton Chatagnier from Cy-Fair High School in the Houston area.

Arkansas holds off Ole Miss, 3-2, to stay in the CWS title hunt

Arkansas junior Zack Morris, pitching in relief in a harrowing ninth inning, shut down an Ole Miss rally Wednesday night as the Razorbacks held on to beat the Rebels 3-2 at the College World Series.

“Everyone in the dugout had faith in him,” Arkansas starting pitcher Hagen Smith said in a post-game interview with reporters on-site in Omaha, Neb. “Nerves were high. But we knew he was going to get out of it.”

By claiming the victory, the Razorbacks forced a deciding game Thursday against the Rebels, with the winner advancing to play the Oklahoma Sooners in the championship round.

The best-of-three championship round will start on Saturday night. Earlier Wednesday, Oklahoma earned the right to play for the title by beating the Texas A&M Aggies.

In the night game, the Razorbacks took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth, only to see the Rebels open the frame by loading the bases with a single and two straight batters hit by pitch.

Morris entered the game in relief at that juncture and struck out Hayden Leatherwood.

The next batter, TJ McCants, flied out. One out away from a loss, the Rebels found life when Justin Bench’s RBI single drove in a run.

The ball was hit into the hole between third and short. Gliding toward his right, Arkansas shortstop Jalen Battles gloved it and kept it from going into the outfield, which likely prevented a second run — the tying run — from scoring.

At the same time, the San Antonio Madison High School alumnus had no other play to make after fielding the ball, and so the bases remained loaded.

Ole Miss’ Jacob Gonzalez was up next, with the game hanging in the balance. Arkansas was one out away from winning, but it also remained a possibility that a two-run single could end its season.

Gonzalez swung and struck the ball well. Slicing into left field, it was caught by Zack Gregory for the last out.

“Zack (Morris) has been clutch for us all year,” Arkansas designated hitter Brady Slavens said. “He’s done a great job. We all had faith in him. We all had belief in him. You know, he didn’t have the best start the other day. But he came out and proved himself tonight.”

With the teams tied in the early innings, Slavens’ 436-foot solo home run to center field in the top of the fifth staked Arkansas to a 2-1 lead.

“I guess I was just looking for a fastball over the plate,” Slavens said. “Luckily I got it. It might be the farthest home run I’ve ever hit. I don’t know. Not sure.”

In the deciding game, Ole Miss is expected to start ace Dylan DeLucia, who beat Auburn on the second day of the tournament last Saturday.

“We’re going to have to really fight,” Slavens said. “It’s going to take all of us to win.”

San Antonio’s Stanley Umude paces OT victory for Arkansas

A few weeks ago, the Arkansas Razorbacks were reeling, having lost three in a row and five of six.

In response, Stanley Umude and his friends have put the losing skid in their rear view mirror with a four-game winning streak.

The latest victory came Saturday night in Fayetteville, Ark., as the Razorbacks turned back the Texas A&M Aggies 76-73 in overtime.

Umude emerged as one of the key players for Arkansas.

The senior transfer from South Dakota, who played in high school at San Antonio Warren, scored 15 points and pulled down seven boards against A&M.

His break-away dunk with 1.2 seconds remaining sealed the win.

Meanwhile, in other highlights involving San Antonio-area athletes in NCAA Division I:

Kevin McCullar Jr., a 6-foot-6 Texas Tech junior from Wagner, didn’t have a great day shooting the ball. He hit only 1 of 7 from the field. But he produced seven points, five rebounds and four assists. More importantly, the 18th-ranked Red Raiders won at home, defeating the West Virginia Mountaineers, 78-65.

Brendan Wenzel, a 6-7 University of Wyoming sophomore from O’Connor, hit four 3-point shots for the Cowboys. He made 4 of 8 from the field and scored 13 points in the Cowboys’ 93-91 victory at home over the New Mexico Lobos. The victory lifted Wyoming to 15-2 on the season and to 4-0 in the Mountain West Conference.

Arkansas at Tennessee headlines college baseball weekend

College baseball that I’ll be watching tonight and through the weekend:

(1) Arkansas at (4) Tennessee
Tonight: Patrick Wicklander vs Chad Dallas

(2) Vanderbilt at (18) Ole Miss
Tonight: Kumar Rocker vs Doug Nikhazy

(7) Texas Tech at Oklahoma
Tonight: Patrick Monteverde vs Jason Ruffcorn

UTSA at (14 Louisiana Tech
Tonight: Pepper Jones vs Jonathan Fincher

Unveiling the ‘All Messy-Garage’ team in college baseball

In some ways, my infatuation with college baseball on ESPN Plus this spring is sort of a sad statement on my social life. In other ways, watching so many games on the network’s alternate channel for live event coverage has really opened my eyes to some great, young talent.

In that regard, I wanted to convey a few thoughts on some the most entertaining players I’ve seen this year. You can just say these are the guys to blame for a certain garage that has needed cleaning for months and yet remains a mess as we, er, speak.

Christian Franklin, Arkansas

Franklin, a junior for the No. 1-ranked Razorbacks, plays center field. He is one of those guys that you see in a game and wonder how much money he could possibly earn over the course of his impending pro career. Quite a bit, I’d say. I’ve seen the man make some remarkable catches in the outfield. He also hits a home about every other time I watch the Razorbacks. Right now, he hits .302, has an on-base percentage of .435, and he slugs .586. About the only negative I can find on the stat sheet are 45 strikeouts in 152 at bats. Most impressive thing you see when crunching numbers on Franklin? He hasn’t made an error in 84 chances.

Ivan Melendez, Texas

Melendez’s recent streak of six games with a home run (seven in all) was really something. I didn’t see the first three games in his run, but if memory serves, I picked it up on the fourth, and watched as the big man from El Paso cranked some shots far into the night sky in Austin. I watched one of his homers sail over the green batters’ eye above the center field wall at UT’s UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Not sure about his all-around ability, as he’s used mostly as a DH. Also, Melendez has cooled off a bit since his streak. But he remains as a threat to batter scoreboards anywhere he plays. Honorable mention when I watch Texas? Second sacker Mitchell Daly, a freshman who turns the double play as well as he hits for average (.348).

Enrique Bradfield, Jr., Vanderbilt

Bradfield comes to mind, because early in the season, I’d always flip the channel to the Vanderbilt game to watch either Kumar Rocker or Jack Leiter. And then, invariably, I ended up being transfixed by something remarkable that Bradford did. Either in the outfield or on the base paths. The key to his game is speed. Reportedly, he runs the 60-yard dash in 6.26 seconds. On top of that, he uses it wisely, as his NCAA Division I-leading 34 stolen bases in 36 attempts suggests. It’s also fun to watch him play the field, where he will start to track a fly ball you think he has no chance to get, and then he comes up with a diving catch. With a .342 batting average, he doesn’t seem intimidated in the least by SEC pitching.

Phillip Sikes, TCU

The well-traveled Mr. Sikes hails from Paris, Texas. His career path in college baseball — from New Mexico to Pima Community College and then to TCU — would suggest journeyman qualities as a player. His facial features suggest he might be more ready for a Pony League all-star game than a weekend showdown with the Longhorns. If you think he’s lacking, though, you’re wrong. Sikes is batting a team-leading .377 with a 1.188 OPS for a team that leads the Big 12 standings. Early on, I liked to turn the channel to find the TCU game to watch Luke Boyers, the kid from Boerne, who is having an excellent season. But Sikes just continues to hit. If Texas has any hope of beating TCU a couple of times this weekend, they need to keep the baby-faced East Texan off the bases. Good luck with that.

Dru Baker, Texas Tech

Baker showed up in Austin last weekend with an unmistakable swagger. The Red Raiders’ leadoff hitter went on to make life miserable for the Longhorns, who lost their first series at home all year. In Game 1, he opened with two weak at bats and then, in his next two trips to the plate, he doubled. In the fifth inning, he slammed a two-run, two-bagger that broke the game open in a 6-3 victory. His play led directly to an outcome that was a psychological blow to the Longhorns, who lost in a key game started by ace right-hander Ty Madden. Baker has been good all year. He’s a .393 hitter. Freshman Jace Jung from San Antonio has created a lot of excitement with his power hitting, but right now, Baker seems to be the man.

Landon Sims, Mississippi State

I don’t pretend to know a whole lot about the Bulldogs, except that they seem capable of beating just about anybody. But I do have a memory of right-handed reliever Landon Sims that stands out. A few weeks ago, he entered a game in the seventh inning at Nashville against Vanderbilt. With the Commodores threatening, he gave up a couple of singles to the first two batters he faced. A five-run Bulldogs lead had shrunk to three. At that point, he walked Bradfield to further muddle the situation. But then Sims took on something that can only be described as a Goose Gossage-like persona, striking out two to end the inning. Just the way he finished the inning, and then finished the game, bouncing around the mound in animation, made me think that the kid is very capable of doing the same in the playoffs.

Garage update

Well, it’s cleaner than I thought. But it’s still littered with plastic containers filled with old newspapers and boxes of old press guides. Who’s responsible? Hey, come see me after the College World Series.