College World Series 2012: Why Arkansas Must Win on Thursday Night

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2012

Nati Harnik/Associated Press
Nati Harnik/Associated Press

After winning its first two games in the College World Series, Arkansas doesn't need a win on Thursday evening to stave off elimination. But failing to make quick work of either Kent State or South Carolina could be potentially disastrous for the Razorbacks.

Let me explain.

Kent State and South Carolina were forced to postpone their elimination game until noon ET on Thursday, and the winner has to play Arkansas on Thursday at 9:00 p.m.. Since Arkansas hasn't lost yet in the double-elimination tournament, they don't face elimination on Thursday.

But either Kent State or South Carolina will have to win two do-or-die games on Thursday, an incredibly tall task just to earn a second game against Arkansas.

But if either team is able to pull off the task, you can't tell me that won't galvanize them heading into a Friday night rematch against the Razorbacks.

What could possibly give a team more momentum than winning two elimination games on one day?

And that is why Arkansas must win on Thursday evening. Even with a game in hand, the last thing they want to do is hand over that sort of momentum to the other team heading into an elimination game on Friday.

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Really, they should win.

Having to play two games on one day is a huge disadvantage for Kent State or South Carolina. And Arkansas has already beaten both teams in this tournament, so they should have plenty of confidence on Thursday night.

Arkansas has a rested pitching staff—they haven't played since Monday, remember—and can choose to either put ace DJ Baxendale on the mound tonight, or save him for a Friday elimination game or the first game of the championship.

When that's your most pressing decision, things are looking up for your side. Or at least they should be.

Arkansas has a golden opportunity on Thursday night, one they need to take advantage of. If they allow either Kent State or South Carolina—back-to-back national champions, mind you—any momentum, the Razorbacks may long lament an opportunity lost with the championship staring them in the face.

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