FAYETTEVILLE – Dave Van Horn’s eyes welled. Tears didn’t fall. They came close, though. He touched on several subjects at only minor suggestion. He could have spoken for an hour. His words spilled out like a river after a dam’s been released.

FAYETTEVILLE – Dave Van Horn’s eyes welled. Tears didn’t fall. They came close, though. He touched on several subjects at only minor suggestion. He could have spoken for an hour. His words spilled out like a river after a dam’s been released.


There is no more weight to carry. There are games left. But there is no more pressure. He and the Arkansas baseball team have accomplished something almost no one thought possible as late as the second-to-last series of the season. Van Horn himself admitted his doubts.


But after a 3-2 win over Missouri State in Game Three of the Fayetteville Super Regional, it’s done. Arkansas will play in the 2015 College World Series.


The Razorbacks scored all three in the first inning and received an 11-out save from Zach Jackson to eliminate the Bears and set up their eighth trip to the CWS in school history and fourth under Van Horn. The team went in 2004, 2009 and 2012 before. They will play in the first round Saturday, June 13 at either 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. against the school that eliminated them from the NCAA Tournament last year, Virginia.


Van Horn’s trip to the College World Series will be his sixth overall. He took his Nebraska teams his last two seasons in Lincoln, a town about 45 minutes from Omaha.


But Sunday he was in a story-telling mood. He recalled an earlier trip to his old home. His Razorbacks one-off game from against his old buddy, coach Ed Servais, and Creighton from May 14. The Blue Jays play in TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series. The trip was less about giving his team a look at a possible destination or even providing some sense of extra motivation – though that helped; Van Horn was helping his friend fill a gap in the schedule.


A return was dubious, he thought.


"Once we got there and saw it, in the back of my mind I’m thinking, ‘Boy it would be nice to get this team back.’ Honestly it was kind of like, that’s probably out there a little bit.


"But you never know, man. You’ve got to have hope, right?"


What provided all the uneasiness in the first place was ultimately what led Arkansas to the biggest stage in college baseball. The Razorbacks had arguably their thinnest and perhaps least overall talented pitching staff in Van Horn’s tenure. Yet a sophomore who lost his weekend starting role, a senior who didn’t make the team until the last week of the fall and the lone All-Southeastern Conference arm were resolute Sunday. At times, they were more than that.


The Bears couldn’t solve the closer Jackson. They barely had any luck against James Teague and Lance Phillips before him, either. But Jackson was near brilliance. He finished the last 3 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit and striking out six. It wasn’t his longest relief performance of the season, but it was longest-best.


Every other time Jackson had thrown at least three innings – save one – the opposition had tagged him for at least two runs. Walks, mostly, were his bugaboo as he had the third most on the team despite a team-best .189 batting average-against.


His best performance of the season, though, came in the biggest game.


"(Pitching) Coach (Dave) Jorn and I sat down this morning and kind of mapped out if we were in the fourth or the fifth inning and the game was on the line we could go to Zach," Van Horn said. "I didn’t see us scoring too many runs. I just felt like we were going to win or lose it. Zach’s been our man. We put him in there and he gave us 11 outs. He did it."


All part, actually, of the Arkansas game plan were executed. Teague worked four strong innings, giving up just an unearned run. Lance Phillips provided enough of a bridge from the starter to the closer to earn the win. Jackson was dominant. And an aggressive offense put Missouri State behind on the board immediately.


Joe Serrano took the game’s very pitch to right field for a fly out. Bobby Wernes knocked a two-out single through the right side to follow and Andrew Benintendi walked after that. When Tyler Spoon came up next and singled through the left side, Wernes scored and the hustling SEC Player of the Year went from first to third on a ball most times holds runners at second base. Accordingly, Rick Nomura sacrifice flied him home after that and after Spoon stole second base, Brett McAfee scored him with a single to left.


It all came in a flash. And by the end it was all Arkansas would get. The Razorbacks had just four more hits and two walks the whole game.


Missouri State simply didn’t capitalize. The first game, an 18-4 Arkansas win, notwithstanding, the Bears had ample opportunity. Even then they left nine runners on-base. They left another 11 in Saturday’s win and a final 10 in Sunday’s clincher. All of them frustrated Missouri State coach Keith Guttin, but none more than the early ones Sunday. Five came in the first two innings.


"Well, we got them on. That’s a good thing. If we get a few knocks early, maybe Jackson is not in a save situation," Guttin said. "So that was critical today. First you got to get them on, then you’ve got to get them in."


The Bears scored their two runs separately. Justin Paulsen hit a two-out RBI single in the third inning and Dylan Becker added another in the sixth. Jackson had just entered when Becker pulled Missouri State within one. He had two outs to record and proceeded to strikeout Joey Hawkins looking and Tate Matheny flied to rightfield. Missouri State was never on base again.


Spoon and McAfee each had two hits for Arkansas, which finished with seven total to Missouri State’s eight. Spoon was a redshirt freshman in 2012, the last time Arkansas went to the College World Series. He’d already left the team and school for the year and gone to play summer baseball in Alaska when the Razorbacks clinched that year. When Van Horn talked about Spoon, that’s when he became emotional.


All the burden from an 11-12 start, from a regret of keeping a redshirt on Spoon that 2012 season – it was all Van Horn could do to keep it together. The 2015 Razorbacks are unlike any of the previous three College World Series teams he’s had.


He made sure to let everyone know with another story: These are his boys.


"In 2012, about halfway through the season we weren’t scoring any runs. Tyler Spoon, I redshirted Tyler Spoon. I called him up in the office and I said ‘Hey, Tyler, I think you can get in the lineup. I think you can play a lot. I don’t know what to do. How do you feel about it, taking you off a redshirt?’" Van Horn said


"We’d already played 35 games or so and he didn’t act – he just acted funny, like, you know? His looks talked me out of it. We got hot ‘12, went to the World Series.


"Tyler Spoon had already left and went out to the Alaskan league. I’ll never forget, he sent me a text. It said something like ‘Hey, coach, congratulations on getting to Omaha. Best of luck. I wish I was there.’ It broke my heart, I’ll be honest with you."


"I’m extremely happy to get him to the College World Series."