OMAHA, Nebraska – Apparently Brian O’Connor is a risk-taking sort of guy. Forget the 61 games that came before. That was all poker-face.

OMAHA, Nebraska – Apparently Brian O’Connor is a risk-taking sort of guy. Forget the 61 games that came before. That was all poker-face.


How else could it be explained the Virginia coach allowing his sophomore shortstop to steal third without giving advanced notice in an eighth-inning tie game in the College World Series.


That’s what happened, though, if you believe O’Connor. Danny Pinero just took off. He stole second two pitches before and decided, ‘why not,’ and took third. His audacity created the eventual game-winning run when he scored on Kenny Towns’ double two batters later.


A team with 62 stolen bases attempts in 61 games before Omaha stole five bases on eight tries Saturday, though, in beating Arkansas, 5-3, and sending the Razorbacks to the losers’ bracket. A loss there would end the Diamond Hogs season. They’ll play knowing that Monday at 2 p.m. against either Florida or Miami.


Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said the Cavaliers took advantage of Zach Jackson’s deliberate delivery to the plate. And Virginia did jump Jackson four times, three successfully, in two innings. But even earlier O’Connor had his team moving. They stole two off Trey Killian and were caught twice more off him, too.


But it wasn’t until Pinero’s boldness in the eighth that any came around to score.


"I saw something I could take advantage of and I got a huge lead and I just kept creeping. It was like: All right, let’s go, whatever," Pinero said. "I went on my own and it worked out."


The team’s best hitter, Matt Thaiss, struck out after Pinero took third base. That left Towns, the only senior starter and one of just two on the roster, to break the tie. He fouled off two Jackson strikes and took three balls. The sixth pitch of the at-bat was sent inside-out to the right field corner and Pinero had only to trot home to give Virginia a 4-3 lead.


Van Horn rued a pair of tight calls earlier in the at-bat. One pitch in particular could have gotten the Razorbacks out of the frame still tied. Killian and Andrew Benintendi nodded along as Van Horn provided the dirt of that particular showdown.


"The full count pitch, or maybe it was the 1-2 pitch, was close. And then 2-2, we thought we had it," Van Horn said. "He called it just off the plate. Whatever the next pitch was doubled won the right field line. Sometimes you get those calls and sometimes you don’t."


Perhaps it should never have gotten that far, but Jackson failed to even look at Pinero as the shortstop took a walking lead off the base at second. Combined with Jackson’s high leg kick, Virginia was all too happy to obey their coach who wanted aggression from the start.


And Arkansas still had chances after that, too. Andrew Benintendi reached second base after drawing a base-on-balls and stealing a base himself to give the Razorbacks a runner in scoring position with no outs, but Virginia closer Josh Sborz struck out Tyler Spoon swinging, induced a pop-up from Clark Eagan and had Rick Nomura flailing, too, and the threat was ended.


The Cavaliers tacked on a final run, appropriately after a steal, on Ernie Clement’s RBI single in the ninth and Arkansas went three-up, three-down to end the game.


Arkansas finished 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position, grounded into three double plays and gave up all five Virginia runs with two outs. Virginia had done to the Razorbacks exactly what Arkansas had done to most of its opponents.


Too many "ands" pervaded Van Horn’s post-game press conference.


"I don’t know how many runs they scored with two outs, but I’m going to think four. And they got the big hits. And their pitchers got out of some good jams. And we left too many runners on early in the game," Van Horn said.


"We had a chance to bust it open and Jones did a great job of getting out of it."


Virginia starter Connor Jones wasn’t especially sharp. The Razorbacks put the leadoff runner on-base against him in each of the first four innings. But when Joe Serrano made it to third base in the first, he drew Eagan into a pop up. When the first two – Nomura and Brett McAfee – reached in the second, Jones got a little lucky, getting Michael Bernal to pop up a bunt and Tucker Pennell to ground into a double play. In the fourth Bernal obliged again, hitting into another double play to erase the leadoff hitter and himself.


The only time Arkansas took advantage was in the third. Benintendi mis-hit a fastball but knocked a sacrifice fly to center field and Clark Eagan later sent a two-out double over the head Kevin Doherty in left. The Razorbacks went ahead 2-1 after Virginia’s Joe McCarthy homered in the second.


The Cavaliers took the lead in the fifth inning when Pinero doubled home Clement and Thaiss singled to score Pinero before being thrown out at second base to end the inning.


Benintendi hit his 20th home run in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 3. He became the first player in Division I baseball since Wade Gaynor (Western Kentucky) in 2009 to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a single season.


Virginia had stolen just 38 bases all season. The three starting Arkansas outfielders had nearly that many together. Only three of the 64 teams in the NCAA Tournament in 2015 had stolen fewer. Still, O’Connor let his sophomore shortstop go at his discretion.


"Earlier on when he was on second base with two outs he was jumping around I thought he was going to go," O’Connor said. "And I was in the dugout saying ‘please, Danny, not now.’ But good, aggressive, heads-up play."


Pinero finished 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs. Thaiss had two hits and an RBI and Clement and McCarthy each had a hit and RBI apiece. Benintendi reached base twice with a hit and walk and had two RBIs and a run. Serrano and Bobby Wernes had the other two Razorbacks runs.


Killian may have pitched his final game in an Arkansas uniform after being drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the ninth round earlier in the week. He threw 7 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits, four runs, two walks and striking out seven on 100 pitches before leaving for Jackson.


His follow-up on Monday is unsure. Van Horn said either freshman Keaton McKinney, a near season-long starter who’s struggled over the last month, or Jackson Lowery, who’s been sharp since moving from the bullpen in the postseason, are the two candidates.


But with the season in the balance, there’s some hope – Arkansas has lost consecutive games just once since March. The Razorbacks lost to LSU and Memphis before the game the entire team says turned their season around. They’ve already faced postseason elimination once, another time isn’t going to scare them.


"Now we’re down to the same situation that we were in this past Sunday," Van Horn said. "Whoever we play is going to be in the same boat we are."