Razorbacks 4, Cavaliers 3
June 17, 2009
Darr's hit, Keuchel's relief lift Arkansas at CWS
Updated: June 18, 2009, 3:19 AM ET
OMAHA, Neb. -- Arkansas isn't ready to let this season end.
Down to its last strike, the Razorbacks got the tying home run in the ninth, clutch pitching and finally the go-ahead double from Andrew Darr in the top of the 12th to defeat Virginia 4-3 at the College World Series on Wednesday night.
"These are tough kids who didn't want to lose, didn't want to go home," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We won, and I'll never forget."
Brett Eibner's two-out, two-run homer off Virginia closer Kevin Arico in the top of the ninth tied it at 3, and Arkansas' Dallas Keuchel put a runner on third base in each of the last four innings but escaped each time. Keuchel, the Hogs' No. 1 starter, made his first relief appearance of the season.
Arkansas (41-23) plays LSU on Friday and would have to beat the Tigers then and again Saturday to reach next week's best-of-three finals.
Virginia (49-15-1) was eliminated after going 1-2 in its first Omaha appearance.
"It took everything from Arkansas and everything from Virginia," Cavaliers coach Brian O'Connor said. "Unfortunately, we came out on the short end."
Darr battled for nine pitches against Andrew Carraway before drilling a grounder down the third-base line to score Jarrod McKinney from second. Darr also hit a two-run double to win the Super Regional over Florida State two weeks ago.
• Arkansas has won 16 games this season in which it trailed in the seventh inning or later.
• Four days after winning a start against Cal State Fullerton, Arkansas pitcher Dallas Keuchel threw four scoreless innings and escaped multiple jams in his first relief appearance of the season to pick up his ninth win.
• The Cavaliers had five strikeouts in their last six at-bats with runners in scoring position, including two to end the game with a runner at third base.
-- ESPN Stats & Information
"There's definitely confidence from having done it before," Darr said. "I was just trying to have a good at-bat. McKinney was at second, and he can fly. I got a breaking ball to hit and got a good swing."
Carraway (9-2) came on with two out in the ninth and retired eight in a row before McKinney singled with one out in the 12th. The Cavaliers had a chance to retire Darr, but first baseman John Hicks couldn't come up with a foul ball that came down by the tarp along the right-field stands.
In the ninth, Keuchel (9-3) fell behind Danny Hultzen 3-0 with the bases loaded before getting a hard grounder to short. Tim Carver bobbled the ball but was able to flip to second, and Bo Bigham's throw to first got Hultzen by a step to complete the double play.
"Boy, that was exciting in our dugout," Van Horn said. "We felt like we could win the game. We got out of an incredible jam with bases loaded. You've got to credit Virginia. They didn't hang their head. They kept fighting."
In the following inning, Keuchel struck out Jarrett Parker and John Hicks after Shane Halley made it to third.
In the 11th, Keuchel induced Dan Grovatt's groundout to strand Franco Valdes.
Steven Proscia led off the 12th with a double and stole third with one out. But Keuchel struck out Hicks and Valdes, with Arkansas catcher Ryan Cisterna throwing to first to get Valdes on a dropped third strike to end the game.
"I was just telling myself out there that we've been through so much, this whole team, and I wasn't going to let them go out with that," Keuchel said. "I kept throwing that slider up there and got some swings and misses."
Virginia limited Arkansas to five hits through eight innings, and the Hogs were down to their last strike after closer Kevin Arico came on and got two groundouts to start the ninth.
Zack Cox singled up the middle on a 1-2 pitch, and Eibner followed with his shot that came down halfway up the left-field seats to tie it 3-all.
The homer made the Cavaliers regret running themselves out of a couple innings. In Virginia's two-run fifth, Tyler Cannon got caught trying to stretch a base hit into a double. In the eighth, Proscia overran third and was thrown out in a rundown.
"We had an opportunity every inning, from the bottom of the ninth all the way to the end," Grovatt said. "We just didn't come up with the big hit and Arkansas did. It was one of those games where that kid had a great at-bat and got the big hit."
Virginia had been 45-1 when leading after eight innings. Hultzen, the Cavs' starting pitcher, struck out seven without a walk in 6 1/3 innings.
Arkansas starter Drew Smyly extended his scoreless innings streak to 12 1/3 before Hicks homered leading off the fifth.
"We felt coming in here that we legitimately could win the national championship," O'Connor said. "When you put so much into it, and it's right in front of you, it's painful."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press