Arkansas turned the tables on Texas all season.
The Razorbacks did it again on Sunday.
Texas traditionally has dominated the series between the two old Southwest Conference blood rivals with a 54-28 edge coming into the season. But Arkansas returned the favor — and then some — in its College World Series opener in Omaha, Neb.
The Razorbacks claimed a resounding 11-5 victory Sunday for their third victory in as many tries against Texas in 2018.
It was a frustrating day for the Longhorns. The Razorbacks charged back after Texas claimed the lead in the fifth inning in a game delayed by lightning for 2 hours and 47 minutes.
The triumph pushes Arkansas into the winners bracket of the double-elimination tournament. It will meet the winner of the Texas Tech-Florida game played later Sunday night on Tuesday.
The Longhorns stumble into the losers bracket. Texas faces an elimination game Tuesday afternoon against the loser of the Sunday night game.
Texas struggled with its clutch hitting throughout the game on Sunday. The Longhorns were a 4 for 20 with runners on base, 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and 2 for 11 with two outs.
The Razorbacks (45-19) claimed the lead for good on Luke Bonfield’s fifth-inning homer against losing pitcher Nolan Kingham (8-5). The two-out shot came after Texas failed to turn what would have been an inning-ending double play.
Arkansas iced the victory with 8 runs against six Texas pitchers in the sixth inning. Nine straight batters reached to start the inning as the Razorbacks blew the game open with the hitting binge.
The inning matched the Razorbacks’ largest scoring inning of the season. But their offense was strong throughout as they pounded 15 hits against seven Texas pitchers.
Texas starter-turned-reliever Chase Shugart entered the game after the delay. He was greeted by a bloop single by Casey Martin, a two-run single by Heston Kjerstad and a hit by pitch to Bonfield that ended Shugart’s outing.
The booming Arkansas hitting display made a winner of starter Blaine Knight, who pushed his record to 13-0 with a strong College World Series opening triumph.
Knight told anybody who would listen earlier in the week that he was unafraid of Texas’ lineup. And he proved it on Sunday, scattering 4 hits in 5 innings with 1 walk and 4 strikeouts.
Arkansas took a 1-0 lead in the first on a leadoff double by Eric Cole and a one-out RBI single by Kjerstad.
Texas (42-22) tied the score in the third inning. Tate Shaw led off with a triple and scored on Ryan Reynolds’ groundout.
The Longhorns went ahead 2-1 in the fifth. Leadoff singles by Masen Hibbeler and Shaw started the rally. Both advanced on a sacrifice by Reynolds. Hibbeler scored on a sacrifice fly by David Hamilton.
Arkansas reclaimed the lead in its half of the inning. Martin started with a one-out walk and scored on Bonfield’s deep two-out homer to left-center field. It was Bonfield’s ninth of the season.
Austin Todd provided a two-run single in Texas’ eighth to account for two runs.
And Zach Zubia delivered a run-scoring double in the ninth to finish Texas’ scoring.
Texas can’t handle Arkansas’ power-packed lineup
Arkansas hit .300 as a team and finished third in the nation with 88 home runs. The Razorbacks’ first six hitters in the order have slammed between 8 and 14 apiece.
The Razorbacks are making their third trip to the College World Series in nine seasons. It is their ninth appearance in the College World Series.
The Longhorns are making their record 36th College World Series appearance.
Their two midweek losses to Arkansas earlier this season helped turn around their season. After those defeats they have gone 33-13 en route to their first sole Big 12 regular-season title since 2010.
They’ll have to hope that another loss to the Razorbacks on Sunday similarly will turn around their season in Omaha.