Things were not so different in 1979 compared to now.
The Star Wars film franchise was a pop-culture phenomenon. Alabama and Michigan State were on top of the college football and basketball worlds, respectively. Oh, and Arkansas baseball was playing for a national title.
Very much like this day and age, really.
Monday marks the Diamond Hogs’ first national championship appearance in baseball since that time 39 years ago. It was the first College World Series trip in school history. Norm DeBriyn’s team finished second, falling to Cal State Fullerton. Arkansas has made a return to trip Omaha, Neb., for the final tournament of the season eight times since then, five times under current coach Dave Van Horn, but never once to the best-of-3 title series.
Arkansas will play Oregon State in the opening game of the championship set for Monday at 7 p.m. ET. The Beavers are no strangers to this stage, either. They have only seven College World Series appearances in school history — two fewer than Arkansas — but six of them have come since 2005. Oregon State owns national titles, too — something Arkansas does not have: 2006 and 2007.
The Razorbacks had a shorter trip to this point than did the Beavers. Arkansas is 3-0 so far in Omaha. It played the entire time on the winners’ side of the bracket. Oregon State, on the other hand, lost its first game. Another defeat at any point would have sent the Beavers out of the tournament. Instead, they reeled off four straight wins, including beating Mississippi State on back-to-back nights to make the final.
To most intent followers of the sport, the meeting of Oregon State and Arkansas is no surprise. The programs have been two of the best three teams in the sport all season. This meeting is precisely the one picked by SEC Country before the tournament began. Both lineups are loaded. Both teams have high-end front-line starters.
Arkansas will most likely have to go against first-team All-America Luke Heimlich on Monday night. The left-hander is the reigning Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, his second straight year winning the award. He gave up 101 hits and struck out 154 batters in 125⅓ innings in 2018.
Opposite him almost definitely will be Arkansas’ own All-American, Blaine Knight. Knight is the only pitcher in the country with a 13-0 record, and he gave up just 89 hits and struck out 96 in 106⅓ innings. Knight will have to face an Oregon State lineup that includes three players taken in the first or sandwich rounds of the MLB Draft a few weeks ago.
Heimlich has to go against an Arkansas lineup that didn’t have anyone go that high but does include a total of four hitters who were drafted, all of whom are expected to sign.
Back in Arkansas, even the non-baseball fans are hopping on board.
Arkansas baseball vs. Oregon State game information
- Game 1: Monday, June 25 — 7 p.m. ET
- Game 2: Tuesday, June 26 – 7 p.m. ET
- Game 3 (if necessary): Wednesday, June 27 – 7 p.m. ET
How can I watch?
Game 1 will be televised on ESPN.
Who is calling the Arkansas games?
Phil Elson and Bubba Carpenter will provide the radio broadcasts on the Razorback Sports Network from IMG.
This is it. National title or bust.