OMAHA, Neb. – It took 12 games at the College World Series, but there was finally drama.
Arkansas survived with a 3-2 win over Ole Miss on Wednesday night at Charles Schwab Field to set up a decisive third and final game against the Rebels at 3 p.m. tomorrow on ESPN2. The winner advances to the national championship series to take on Oklahoma, who advanced earlier on Wednesday after eliminating Texas A&M.
The Razorbacks cruised into the bottom of the ninth with a 3-1 lead after tacking on an insurance run in the top of the eighth inning via an RBI single from Michael Turner. Back out to start his fourth inning of relief in the ninth, Evan Taylor gave up a leadoff single to Kemp Alderman before being replaced by Brady Tygart.
The freshman struggled with command, hitting the only two batters he faced to load the bases. Zack Morris was summoned from the bullpen on short rest after starting against the Rebels on Monday and failing to get out of the first inning.
Wednesday night, however, was a different story.
The lefty was smooth in navigating his way out of a bases-loaded jam, starting with a strikeout of Hayden Leatherwood for the first out. Jace Bohrofen held onto a pop out in the outfield for the second out, avoiding disaster as he and shortstop Jalen Battles collided in shallow left.
An infield single deep in the hole at shortstop from Ole Miss’ Justin Bench brought the Rebs within a run before Morris slammed the door shut with a game-ending fly out to left field.
The game was tight from first pitch, but the Hogs struck first in the top of the second on Chris Lanzilli’s third home run of the College World Series. The Stoneham, Mass., native’s solo shot just cleared the left field wall.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Alderman answered with his own solo homer to lead off the bottom of the second.
Arkansas’ next run came in a loud, long way on Brady Slavens’ monster 436-foot solo homer to straightaway center field. The home run is the longest recorded home run in CWS history at Charles Schwab Field and just the third home run to straightaway center field at the ballpark.
Hagen Smith earned the win on Tuesday night, allowing one run on just two hits with four walks and eight strikeouts. Taylor was solid out of the pen over his three-plus innings, giving up one run on two hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
Connor Noland will start on the mound for the Razorbacks in tomorrow’s winner-take-all game against the Rebels, who will throw Dylan DeLucia. First pitch is 3 p.m. on ESPN2.