A letdown for Arkansas on Saturday would have just gotten a shrug from most fans, but it turned into a full-blown Baum-Walker party.
The Razorbacks, after clinching the SEC regular season title Friday night, proceeded to stomp Florida into submission, 9-3, to complete a sweep of the final series.
“We’re not going backwards,” was what Dave Van Horn said later about the Hogs peaking at the right time.
Now it’s on to Hoover for a completely meaningless SEC Tournament. The Hogs will probably be the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens next week.
This time Brady Slavens’ bat came up big. He hammered a pair of home runs for five RBI. The rest of the runs were scattered and Charlie Welch delivered … again. His pinch-hit double in a wild seventh inning broke open a close game.
And let the party get started in front of another full house that really got rolling when the outcome became obvious in the seventh inning. Nobody was going home early.
Part of that is a year without much fan involvement in games due to the covid restrictions.
Maybe the biggest part of, though, is this Razorback team resembles a machine not even running at full throttle headed into the final part.
This team is different.
“That’s the way this team is,” Van Horn said with a big smile. “It’s their personality. I’ve said it the last two months. When these guys step on the field they want to win.”
There really wasn’t any particular reason to push it Saturday. The league title had been secured Friday night. With the exception of some pitchers who weren’t even active for Saturday’s game, everybody else played like nothing had been decided.
“There were no motivation speeches about playing hard and let’s go ahead and win this,” Van Horn said. “It’s the little things. We just talked about how to beat those guys over there. We just showed up and got after ’em.”
It’s the one game at a time approach we’ve talked about this weekend because there is a bigger goal than every one of these games. They keep getting better.
“You get better until you get tired,” Van Horn said.
Which may offer some clues into the real mastery of what Van Horn does.
“I don’t think we’re tired,” he said.
For Razorback fans, that’s a big cause for hope to get to Omaha and win it all.
Right now they look like it’s a real possibility.