By ERIC OLSON AP Sports Writer
(AP Photo/John Peterson)
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Brady Slavens’ home run to the deepest part of the park gave Arkansas the lead and the Razorbacks held on for a 3-2 win in the College World Series on Wednesday night after Mississippi loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Hogs (46-20) forced a second bracket final against Ole Miss (39-23) on Thursday, with the winner advancing to play Oklahoma in the best-of-three championship round starting Saturday.
For eight innings, Arkansas all but shut down an offense that had produced 64 runs in its first seven NCAA Tournament games. Kemp Alderman, who hit a tying homer in the second inning, was the only Ole Miss runner to advance past first base to that point.
The Rebels loaded the bases in the ninth after closer Brady Tygart hit two straight batters.
Zack Morris, who had given up two runs in two-thirds of an inning in the Hogs’ 13-5 loss to Ole Miss on Monday, came on and struck out pinch-hitter Hayden Leatherwood and got TJ McCants and Jacob Gonzalez to fly out to end the game.
With the game tied at 1 in the fifth, Slavens blasted John Gaddis’ second pitch 436 feet to straightaway center into a light breeze. The only other players to homer to dead center since the CWS moved to Charles Schwab Field in 2011 were Florida’s Pete Alonso (2015) and Florida State’s Dylan Busby (2017).
The Hogs added a huge insurance run in the eighth. Cayden Wallace sent a ball down the left-field line for a double, getting his hand onto the bag just ahead of second baseman Peyton Chatagnier’s tag attempt. The call was upheld on video review.
Michael Turner followed with a base hit that brought Wallace home. The Hogs had the bases loaded after the Rebels intentionally walked Slavens with first open, but Jack Dougherty struck out Slavens and pinch-hitter Kendall Diggs to end the inning.
Freshman lefty Hagen Smith (7-2) pitched five innings for his longest outing since he went six in an April 30 win over the Rebels. He allowed one run on two hits and four walks, and he struck out eight.
Evan Taylor allowed two hits and fanned four in three innings, leaving after Alderman singled leading off the ninth.
Gaddis (3-2), pitching for the first time since June 6 and making his first start since April 9, allowed two runs on four hits.
The teams traded home runs in the second. Chris Lanzilli went deep for the third time in the CWS and Alderman connected for the Rebels.
Lanzilli’s homer barely cleared the fence in left center and bounced back onto the field. The homer was confirmed after a video review.
Lanzilli became the first player to hit three homers in a CWS since Michigan’s Jimmy Kerr in 2019.