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Northwest Sports 0

Razorbacks Headed to College World Series

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Pack your bags Hog fans. It’s on to Omaha, Neb. for the Arkansas Razorbacks where the College World Series awaits.

Using a recipe of clutch hitting, air-tight defense, and sizzling pitching, the Arkansas Razorbacks catapulted themselves back into the College World Series on Sunday with a 4-3 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Chapel Hill (N.C.) Regional.

The Razorbacks (43-19) wrapped the series up in two games after taking a 4-1 victory on Saturday.

Two weeks ago almost everyone had counted the Hogs out after a late-season swoon that saw the Razorbacks fall out of the Top 10 and go 4-8 during a 12-game span.

However, the Razorbacks have got their groove back, playing excellent baseball the past two weekends at Stillwater, Okla. and at Chapel Hill, going 4-1 in NCAA Tournament play on foreign turf.

Van Horn summed it best after Sunday’s marathon game that suffered two lightning delays.

“Isn’t it great; It never gets old,” said the Hogs’ skipper, whose nine appearances in the College World Series — seven at Arkansas and two at Nebraska — are two more than any other active coach.

The sweetness this season stems not only from the Razorbacks pulling themselves out of that 4-8 slump but also from last year’s bitter loss to a hot North Carolina State squad in the Super Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium after being ranked No. 1 most of the season.

No doubt coming up short last year was playing on the minds of the Razorbacks when North Carolina took a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning after tying the game 2-2 in the seventh.

Razorback senior designated hitter Brady Slavens confirmed that in the post-game media conference after swatting the walk-off single when he related that fellow senior shortstop Jalen Battles, who led off the inning with a single and scored the tying run, told him before his at-bat, “This is what we came back for.”

Slavens, who often banks on his home-run power, drove the ball in the hole between first and second base to vanquish any doubts and chase away any demons haunting the Hogs’ after falling just short a year ago.

Along with Slavens, freshman first baseman Peyton Stovall came up big for the Hogs at the plate, going 3-for-4 on the day and advancing Battles to third in the ninth before Kendall Diggs drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases.

Third baseman Brayden Webb, who had 2 RBI on the day, then grounded out to score Battles to tie the game and set up Slavens’ his game-winning single.

Razorback starter Will McEntire kept the Tar Heels on their heels by pitching 5 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, striking out four against two walks and three hits.

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Dustin Bartholomew is the co-founder of Fayetteville Flyer, an online publication covering all things news, art and life in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 2007. A graduate of the Department of English at the University of Arkansas and a lifelong resident of the area, he still lives in east Fayetteville with his son Hudson, daughter Evelyn, his wife Brandy, and his two dogs Lily and Steve. On occasion, he tickles the ivories in a local band called The Good Fear.

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