OMAHA, Neb. -- A week after the University of Arkansas baseball players dog-piled on the mound as they celebrated winning a super regional with a 14-1 victory against Ole Miss at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks' season ended with a 5-4 loss to Texas Tech on Monday in a College World Series elimination game.
"I said before we got here -- and I've had other coaches tell me -- the best celebration you have is when you win that super regional," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "Because everybody's ecstatic. A lot of pressure's been relieved and you're so happy for the players and the fans and the parents.
"Then you get here to Omaha and there's only one team that really leaves with a good feeling."
The Razorbacks lost six position players in their lineup and their top two starting pitchers from last season's College World Series runner-up team and weren't projected to make a return trip to Omaha.
"I know there's a lot of people back home disappointed," Van Horn said of the Razorbacks' 0-2 record in the College World Series. "But probably like me, if they just take a step back and take a breath and kind of realize how we did after we replaced all those players, it was a pretty good year."
Hitting to the end
Arkansas first baseman Trevor Ezell, a fifth-year senior from Bryant, ended his college career with a nine-game hitting streak which he extended with a single in the seventh inning on Monday.
Ezell, who transferred to Arkansas from Southeast Missouri State, went 17 for 37 (.459) in seven NCAA Tournament games.
"He had one shot of getting to the College World Series and this was it," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "He played so hard and he willed us here. He did it with his bat and his glove and base running.
"What a great kid. I'll be excited when I get the opportunity to hand him his College World Series ring later this fall."Gallery: Hogs lose 5-4 to Texas Tech in the College World Series
Streak ends at 23
Arkansas' streak of scoreless innings in College World Series games ended at 23 when Heston Kjerstad hit a one-out home run in the second inning against Texas Tech starter Caleb Kilian.
Kjerstad hit the first pitch for a shot over the left-field wall that went into the Red Raiders' bullpen.
It was the first time Arkansas had scored in a College World Series game since the Razorbacks scored two runs in the fifth inning of their 5-3 loss to Oregon State in game two of last season's championship series.
The Beavers beat Arkansas 5-0 in game three and Florida State beat the Razorbacks 1-0 in their College World Series opener Saturday night.
Arkansas' scoreless streak was the longest in the College World Series since Rice failed to score for 25 consecutive innings spanning games in 2006 and 2007.
Northern Colorado holds the College World Series record with 36 consecutive scoreless innings from 1955-57. North Carolina matched Rice's 25 consecutive scoreless innings from in appearances in 1960 and 1966.
Texas Tech sophomore third baseman Easton Murrell, who played at Arkansas last season, hit his first career home run in the fifth inning to tie the game at 3-3.
It was Murrell's second RBI this season. He came into Monday's game batting .235 with 1 RBI in 34 at-bats. Last season he was 1 for 8 at Arkansas.
Despite Murrell's lack of production on offense, Texas Tech Coach Tim Tadlock said he wasn't surprised by the home run.
"He's put together really good at-bats over the last month, maybe even the last six weeks," Tadlock said. "He hit some balls in Oklahoma City [in the Big 12 Tournament] just like that, but they went for outs.
"The ballpark was playing a little bit bigger. I'm just proud of him and thankful we've got him."
Murrell became the second former Arkansas player to hit a home run against the Razorbacks this season.
Hunter Wilson, who went from Arkansas to Oral Roberts University as a graduate transfer, hit a three-run home at Baum-Walker Stadium on April 9 in a game the Razorbacks won 15-8.
Arkansas sophomore catcher Casey Opitz threw out his 22nd would-be base stealer when he caught Texas Tech's Brian Klein attempting to take second base in the eighth inning.
Opitz threw out 22 of 46 runners on stolen base attempts (47.8%) this season.
Razorbacks Coach Dave Van Horn said it should have been 23 of 47 because Opitz deserved to be credited with a caught stealing when he threw out Braxton Fulford at third base in the third inning trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt.
"Casey should have had two caught stealing in that game," Van Horn said. "Just a super job by him all season. Probably one of the best jobs I've seen as a coach handling a pitching staff, blocking, throwing, calling pitches.
"What a good, good catcher and a good baseball player."
Texas Tech beat Arkansas in Omaha a year after the Razorbacks beat the Red Raiders 7-4 in the College World Series last season.
The Red Raiders had lost four consecutive games to Arkansas since last beating the Razorbacks 14-10 in an NCAA regional in Wichita, Kan., in 1995.
Taking the fifth
A Dave Van Horn-coached team was eliminated after two games at the College World Series for the fifth time.
Van Horn's 2001 and 2002 Nebraska teams were winless, as were his Arkansas teams in 2004, 2015 and this year. Van Horn has an all-time record of 8-16 at the College World Series.
Sports on 06/18/2019
Print Headline: Van Horn proud of his squad