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Not bad hitters, either. Freshman Outfielder Kevin McReynolds, swinging a 36" aluminum bat ( Pete Rose uses a 35" bat, Rod Carew, a 34�"), was merely hitting .714 going into the final. His home run, double and three RBIs had helped upset Texas 9-4 earlier in the week. ( Pepperdine eliminated the No. 1-ranked Longhorns the next evening, 6-4.)
"I think the longer bat's got a lot to do with it," said McReynolds. "I had asked the coach to get one all year. Before the World Series, a manufacturer gave us one. It lets me stand back a bit and get my arms extended."
Perhaps the Razorbacks' finest all-round player was Shortstop Larry Wallace, who has been almost totally deaf since age two. A fine fielder, he was also hitting .533 going into the final. He doesn't wear his hearing aids in games because his batting helmet interferes with them. When he calls for a pop fly his teammates have no choice but to stand clear.
Arkansas had never won an NCAA team championship in any sport, so there was plenty of tension in the championship game. Adding to the drama, thunderheads were massed over Rosenblatt Municipal Stadium, but no raindrops fell, nor was there the kind of outpouring of runs that both teams had been producing. Fullerton had scored 46 times in five games, while Arkansas scored 34 runs in four. That's what's called getting good metal on the ball.
Indeed, the final was a pitchers' duel, Arkansas' Steve Krueger against Fullerton's Dave Weatherman, who had been knocked out in the first inning by Pepperdine the night before. This time he was sharp, and so was Krueger.
The game was decided in the bottom of the sixth. With the score 1-1, the fleet Favata reached first on an error. He stole second (his 66th theft of the season) and continued to third on a throwing error by the usually accurate Hog catcher, Ronn Reynolds. Power-hitter Wallach drove him in with a sacrifice fly. It was Wallach's 102nd RBI of the season, tying the unofficial NCAA record set last year by Arizona State's Chris Bando.
Weatherman finished strong, facing the minimum number of batters in the last three innings. The rubber-armed Hudson, later named the tournament MVP, warmed up a bit in the bullpen, but Garrido didn't need to call on him.
"What a heck of a job Weatherman did," said Kingsolver. "They're such a good hitting team, and for him to hold them like that—just super. Weatherman can't do any better than this. He can't pitch any better.
"We're tough. You can't beat a team like ours, a team with guts. I'll tell you."