McDaniel an un­likely win­ner for Hogs

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - RICK FIRES

Travis McDaniel is a for­mer Green­wood quar­ter­back and Univer­sity of Arkansas in­fielder who is re­mem­bered most for his lone col­lege pitch­ing per­for­mance.

It came in the SEC Tour­na­ment in 1999, when Arkansas was one win away from play­ing for the tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship. Arkansas re­liever Jared Manatt hit the Auburn lead­off bat­ter af­ter the Tigers had scored four runs in the fifth in­ning to take a 6-5 lead over the Ra­zor­backs.

Arkansas pitch­ing coach Tim Mon­tez had seen enough and waved to the

bullpen for McDaniel, a ju­nior who hadn’t pitched since high school at Green­wood.

“We were go­ing to save our top two pitch­ers for the re­gional tour­na­ment and Mon­tez asked be­fore we left Fayet­teville if any of us (po­si­tion play­ers)

had ever pitched,” said McDaniel, who played four years as a mid­dle in­fielder for the Ra­zor­backs. “I raised my hand then threw a bullpen ses­sion for Mon­tez, so I guess I was it.”

McDaniel was far more than ad­e­quate. He threw four score­less in­nings and earned the win as Arkansas ral­lied for a 9-6 vic­tory. He al­lowed three hits, struck out four and walked two against an Auburn team that fea­tured Gabe Gross, who played 10 years in the ma­jor leagues. Arkansas lost to Alabama 9-3 in the cham­pi­onship game and fin­ished 4-2 in the SEC Tour­na­ment.

“My par­ents filmed the

game against Auburn where I pitched,” McDaniel said. “We still pop the video in on oc­ca­sion, mostly for laughs. The an­nounc­ers didn’t think I’d last long.”

McDaniel, 40, has lived for nearly a decade in Tampa Bay,

Fla., where he is the gen­eral man­ager at Any­time Fit­ness. But he still re­turns to Arkansas on oc­ca­sion and cheers for the Ra­zor­backs, along with the other Hogs faith­ful in Florida.

“You’d be sur­prised at the num­ber of Arkansas fans down here, which we call the Devil’s Den,” McDaniel said. “We’ve had as many as 30 peo­ple at one time root­ing for Arkansas when they’re on TV.”

McDaniel ex­pe­ri­enced plenty of suc­cess with Arkansas in 1999, when the Ra­zor­backs were reg­u­lar-sea­son SEC cham­pi­ons and hosted an NCAA Re­gional Tour­na­ment at Baum Sta­dium for the first time. Arkansas opened the tour­na­ment with an 8-5 vic­tory over Delaware, but its sea­son ended the next day with a 9-8 defeat in 10 in­nings

to Mis­souri State and a 12-4 loss to Clem­son.

Arkansas was one strike away from vic­tory over Mis­souri State when Matt Cepicky hit a home run off Rod­ney Nye.

“That was like a shock to our sys­tem,” McDaniel said. “I was sick to my stom­ach that we got knocked out on the same day af­ter he had such a great sea­son.”

McDaniel’s se­nior year was a dis­ap­point­ment, as the Ra­zor­backs tum­bled to sixth place in the SEC West and missed the SEC Tour­na­ment in 2000.

“We lost a lot of top play­ers to the draft off that ’99 team and couldn’t re­cover,” McDaniel said. “But I had a great time at Arkansas and I’m still friends with guys I played with. That’s what I en­joy the most.”

File Photo/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Arkansas’ Travis McDaniel (right) makes a throw to first base af­ter record­ing a force out at sec­ond base against Kentucky on April 10, 1999, at Baum Sta­dium in Fayet­teville.

Cour­tesy photo

Travis McDaniel (left) is the gen­eral man­ager at Any­time Fit­ness in Tampa Bay, Fla., where he also en­joys spend­ing time with his girl­friend, Al­li­son More­dock.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.