Fayetteville, AR Story and Photos by Mike Price
The Arkansas Razorbacks punched their return ticket to Omaha by beating Ole Miss in the deciding game 3, 14-1. Ole Miss did get on the board to start the 1st inning. Ryan Olenek was hit by a pitch, advanced to 3rd base on a single by Cole Zabowski then scored on a single by Cooper Johnson. Starting pitcher Patrick Wicklander got out of the inning with a swinging strikeout of Tyler Keenan. In the bottom half of the inning, the Hogs went 3 up, 3 down.
In the 2nd inning, Wicklander got into a jam with 2 outs by hitting designated hitter Knox Loposer, walking Thomas Dillard, then throwing a wild pitch which advanced each runner to 2nd and 3rd base respectively. Van Horn switched pitchers and brought in Cody Scroggins. Scroggins immediately went to work and got Olenek to strike out swinging to end the threat. Scroggins ended up pitching 4 1/3 innings with 8 strikeouts.
The Hogs finally got things going in the bottom of the 2nd with a one out double by Heston Kjerstad. Then Jack Kenley was hit by a pitch. Casey Opitz hit a RBI single to right center that scored Kjerstad and sent Kenley to 3rd. Jacob Nesbit hit a double down the left field line that sent Kenley home, putting the Razorbacks up for good at 2-1 but they weren’t done yet. After a Christian Franklin strikeout, Trevor Ezell hit a 2 run single to right to make it 4-1.
In the bottom of the 3rd, the Hogs added 3 more runs after Matt Goodheart singled and a Dominic Fletcher walk finally chased Ole Miss pitcher Gunnar Hoglund off the mound. He was replaced by Austin Miller. Kjerstad came up to bat and hit a first pitch 2 RBI double that just stayed fair down the right field line. Kjerstad advanced to 3rd base on a pop fly to right field by Kenley. Opitz hit a RBI single down the left field line. Nesbit hit into a double play to end the inning but the Hogs were up 7-1 and were in control.
The Hogs tacked on a run in the 4th on a wild pitch that scored Franklin and a Kjerstad hit a solo homer in the 5th inning before really breaking things wide open in the 6th. Ezell started things off with a single followed by a Casey Martin walk and Goodheart getting hit by a pitch to load the bases. Dominic Fletcher hit a 2 run double to left center, then Kjerstad hit a sacrifice fly to left center. After Kenley popped out to 3rd, Opitz hit a homer over right center to make it 14-1 and cap the scoring for the day.
The Hogs advance to their 10th College World Series and the 6th under Coach Dave Van Horn. Attendance was announced at 11,095.
Arkansas will face Florida State to begin the College World Series. Date and time still to be announced.