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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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