By Otis Kirk
On Monday night, Arkansas or Ole Miss will move on in the winner’s bracket and be one of two teams undefeated at the College World Series.
Arkansas (47-20) advanced on Saturday with a 17-2 win over Stanford while Ole Miss (41-22) downed Auburn 5-1. Dave Van Horn’s team lost to Stanford 5-0 on February 27 in the Round Rock Classic, but that was before the Razorbacks went through the SEC grind.
“I think any coach, there’s a few teams from the SEC West here, and they’ll all tell you that going through the league prepares you for anything you’re going to run into,” Van Horn said. “It doesn’t mean you’re going to win, but you’ve seen it before, whether it’s a big-time lefty with velocity or a right-hander with a plus slider. You’re going to see it. Offenses like Stanford. They’re really good.
“And they beat us early in the season. And they out-toughed us that day, honestly. And we saw it. It was really cold. I didn’t like the way it went. We threw a freshman with a really good arm. And they got all over him.
“It didn’t go real well. We lost 5-0, and it felt like it was 10-0, honestly. And we had to play a game after that in that same temperature. Found a way to win. We walked out of there, limped out of there going, wow. And we thought Stanford probably doesn’t think we’re very good, because we didn’t look very good that day.”
On Monday, Van Horn and the Razorbacks will face a team they beat two times in three tries at Baum-Walker Stadium. On April 29, Ole Miss took the series opener 4-2. The Hogs bounced back on Saturday to win 6-3 and then captured the series on Sunday 4-3.
Texas A&M and Auburn are also in the eight-team field in Omaha. The Aggies faced Texas on Sunday in an elimination game. Auburn and Stanford will meet at 1 p.m. on Monday in another elimination game.
Van Horn hasn’t announced a starter for Monday’s game, but Will McEntire started the second game in the Chapel Hill Super Regional and would seem to be a possibility. Zack Morris, Jaxon Wiggins and Hagen Smith, if he isn’t in the closer’s role, are all possibilities to start games in Omaha.The Arkansas-Ole Miss game will be at 6 p.m. and televised on ESPN.