Campbell Deals Arkansas Into Regional Final
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Redshirt junior Isaiah Campbell tied a career-long eight innings Saturday night, holding TCU to just one run, as he helped fourth-ranked Arkansas defeat the Horned Frogs, 3-1, in front of 10,967 fans at Baum-Walker Stadium, sending it to the NCAA Fayetteville Regional final for the third-straight year.
Arkansas (43-17) will now await the winner of the Central Connecticut State and TCU elimination game set up for 2 p.m. on Sunday. The winner of that game will have to beat Arkansas twice to advance to the Super Regionals. The Hogs will only have to win once.
Campbell outdueled TCU starter Nick Lodolo and matched his career-best of eight innings pitched on 108 pitches, which he achieved last year in a 14-2 victory over No. 4 Kentucky (March 17, 2018). He also gave up just one run on four hits and struck out eight, including two in his final inning of work.
It was just the third time this season Campbell had thrown into the eighth inning, but it was the fifth time he allowed one run or less in seven innings or more. With the win, Campbell moves to 11-1 and has earned the victory in four of his last five starts.
With the way Campbell was throwing, the Razorbacks (43-17) didn’t need too many runs to top the Horned Frogs. All three of their runs were scored in the sixth inning after Lodolo was relieved on 93 pitches. A fielding error broke up a would-be double play ball and the inning continued, allowing catcher Casey Opitz to deliver a bases-loaded two-RBI single up the middle to break up the scoreless game.
Opitz, who hadn’t recorded a hit in the regional yet, took an 0-1 fastball from Haylen Green and drove in Jacob Nesbit and Jack Kenley to make it 2-0 Arkansas. It broke a streak of nine-consecutive bases-loaded situations that Arkansas had gone hitless in dating back to its series at Texas A&M (May 16-18). Trevor Ezell followed with an RBI double in the next-at bat for good measure to make it 3-0.
Ezell Continues To Swing Hot Bat
Lost in the stellar pitching performance of Isaiah Campbell, redshirt senior Trevor Ezell turned in his first four-hit game of the season and eighth of his career after going 4-for-5 with a career-high three doubles and one RBI. Ezell is hitting a blistering .700 (7-for-10) in the regional and has driven in four RBIs combined. He now has 22 doubles for the season, which puts him in a tie for first in the SEC along with teammate Dominic Fletcher.
Cronin Slams Door; Picks Up 12th Save
There was no question who head coach Dave Van Horn was going to go to out of the bullpen after Campbell polished off his eight-inning performance. Junior Matt Cronin was summoned for the ninth inning and earned his second save in three appearances, 12th overall. He struck out just one of the final three batters he faced, but now has 27 saves in his career, just six behind Arkansas saves record-holder Philip Stidham (1989-91). The 27 career saves ranks in a tie for fourth among all active players in the nation.
“Just a really good baseball game. Two really good starters going at it. After each inning we were saying, ‘That’s round one. That’s round two.’ Just like it was a fight. Who was going to make a mistake or who was going to boot a ball or whatever. Both pitchers did a great job. When runners got on base they delivered pitches. We got a double-play ball. Just give them credit for matching us pitch-for-pitch and we finally put together a really good inning in the sixth.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on his team’s win over TCU
“Give Isaiah a lot of credit. He gave us eight innings. We were getting real close to taking him out after seven. Coach (Matt) Hobbs and I, as a matter of fact, were down there talking about it kind of at our end (of the dugout). Do we leave him in? Do we bring so-and-so in? Next thing you know, Isaiah came around the corner and said, ‘I’m good.’ And we just looked at each other and said, ‘OK, we’re going to leave him in.’ I’ve taken him out many a time this year early and I’ve said, ‘Hey, we’re going to need this inning later in the season.’ I think tonight we needed that inning, that eighth, and he came through and got them out 1-2-3.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Isaiah Campbell
“I mean that’s actually a really good question. I don’t think so off the top of my head. The jump that he’s made. He’s always had talent that’s good, but to be so consistent. We’d see a little bit of what you saw tonight here and there. And you’d think how he pitched last year in Omaha I think against Florida where he was really good. But every week giving us a good start, it’s been fun to watch. Because of the consistency he’s made the biggest jump that I’ve seen.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on if Campbell’s improvement from one year to the other is the best he’s seen
“I don’t think he’s scared number one. He plays pretty much every game. He’s a catcher obviously sitting right in there and comfortable in that area of the field. He doesn’t let a bad at-bat get to him and it’s just his makeup. He wants to be there whether he’s hitting .240 or .440. He doesn’t care. He just wants to have an opportunity to help the team win.” – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Casey Opitz being a consistent presence in the field
“Like Coach Van Horn said, they were talking about it in the dugout, and I just came up to them and said, ‘I’m good.’ That was kind of the end of the discussion. They said, ‘Alright, you’ve got it.’ My mindset was just attack hitters like I’ve been doing all night. Just get ahead of hitters and let the defense work and then the strikeouts came in that last inning.” – Isaiah Campbell on coming back for the eighth inning
“He was outstanding tonight. He’s been outstanding all year, but tonight you could kind of tell it was something different. Tonight was probably the best I’ve seen him keep control of his stuff throughout the whole game. You could really tell in the eighth that he still had command for every pitch in his arsenal. He just did a great job keeping hitters guessing and not leaving too many balls out over the middle and hitting corners. That kind of performance shows.” – Casey Opitz on Isaiah Campbell’s eight-inning performance
“Obviously, I heard it. We had a big crowd tonight, so it was kind of tough not to hear it. It gave me a little adrenaline to keep going and get through the eighth. For me, it was just staying in the present moment and just keep doing what I was doing all night and that’s what I did.” – Isaiah Campbell on the crowd reaction when he came back for the eighth
Arkansas moves on to the regional final where it will face either Central Connecticut State or TCU, which will play an elimination game earlier in the day. Arkansas is 2-0 in the regional and the double-elimination rule will continue through the remainder of the weekend. The winner of CCSU and TCU will have to beat Arkansas twice to advance to the super regionals, while Arkansas will only have to win once. First pitch for Arkansas’ game on Sunday is set for 8 p.m.
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