FAYETTEVILLE – Even two days later there’s still a sense of celebration in the Baum Stadium air.

FAYETTEVILLE – Even two days later there’s still a sense of celebration in the Baum Stadium air.

Dave Van Horn and the Arkansas baseball team had a light practice Tuesday – and will have moderate one Wednesday – before leaving for Omaha, Nebraska, on Thursday for the College World Series. It was almost all smiles as the Razorbacks players and coaches gathered with the assembled media.

"This team is close. Probably because … we’ve been through a lot of adversity early. We lost every which way we could, whether it was bad offense or bad defense that day or hitting batters or walking hitters. We just kept finding a way to lose. They stuck together and pulled it out. I think it got them closer as a team."

It’s an old story at this point, Arkansas’ overcoming of an 11-12 start to make the biggest tournament in college baseball. It doesn’t mean its any less significant. Assistant coach Jake Wise was part of the 2012 Arkansas team that went to the World Series. This bunch is different, he said.

They believe they have a chance in Omaha.

"I think you noticed in the fall it’s a bunch of tough guys that didn’t really care what anybody thought about them," Wise said. "I think that’s the biggest key for this team. They don’t take anything too seriously, but they go out and play baseball and they find ways to win. That’s the most important thing."

Short-handed Again

The Razorbacks had lost weekend starter Dominic Taccolini before the Regional round of the NCAA Tournament a couple weeks. Now, one of his replacements, James Teague, will go missing, too.

Teague suffered a stress reaction in his elbow after starting Sunday’s CWS-clinching win against Missouri State. He won’t play in Omaha.

No. 1 and No. 2 starters Trey Killian and Keaton McKinney are still available and with the way the World Series schedule falls – games every other day – Arkansas may not need to go beyond those even it sticks around for more than two games. But Teague, like Taccolini, was the best option for long relief out of the bullpen. Jackson Lowery, who has been excellent in that role, is the only remaining option there. And that further thins an already depleted staff.

Van Horn shrugged off the injuries Tuesday.

"It hasn’t slowed us down, so whatever. We’ll just go do what we gotta do. We’ll figure it out when we’re there," Van Horn said.


Killian, who will start the Razorbacks’ CWS opener against Virginia on Saturday at 2 p.m., was selected Tuesday in the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Colorado Rockies in the ninth round.

The Mountain Home junior led the Arkansas staff with seven quality starts this season and has a X.XX earned-run average.

Other Arkansas players eligible for the draft include outfielder Joe Serrano, third baseman Bobby Wernes and shorstop Michael Bernal. Centerfielder Andrew Benintendi was chosen No. 7 overall on Monday by the Boston Red Sox.

Sixth Time’s A Charm?

For Van Horn, this year’s Omaha trip will be his sixth as a head coach. He went twice coaching Nebraska in 2001 and 2002 and has taken the Razorbacks three times before this one (2004, 2009, 2012).

But is he more nervous because he knows the stakes or less nervous because he’s been there before? Judging by his demeanor Tuesday it’s the latter. He was cracking jokes and reminiscing about those previous Razorbacks teams, including a couple from his graduate assistant days in the 1980s.

Had he not been a part of the 1985 Arkansas team that went to the College World Series, it’s possible he might not be the Razorbacks coach – or any other team’s, really – right now.

"I think we opened the season at Miami. I remember losing the first three games but they were all close. I remember the Miami coaches telling us you guys are really good you’re just behind right now. Sure enough we made it to the World Series," Van Horn said. "I knew midway through the season that’s what I wanted to do as a career is coach college baseball. That’s how much I enjoyed that season.