Back to Omaha: Arkansas routs Ole Miss to advance to 10th College World Series

By: Scottie Bordelon , Matt Jones
Published: Monday, June 10, 2019
Arkansas players celebrate their win over Ole Miss after Game 3 at an NCAA college baseball super regional Monday, June 10, 2019, in Fayetteville. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
Arkansas players celebrate their win over Ole Miss after Game 3 at an NCAA college baseball super regional Monday, June 10, 2019, in Fayetteville. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

— For the first time in program history, Arkansas is going to the College World Series in consecutive seasons.

The No. 5 Razorbacks became the eighth and final team to punch a ticket to this year’s College World Series with a resounding 14-1 victory over No. 18 Ole Miss in front of 10,092 at Baum-Walker Stadium.

Arkansas (46-18) advanced to Omaha for the second season in a row and from its home field for the fourth time since 2004. The Razorbacks will play Florida State at 6 p.m. Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.

Arkansas is going to Omaha for the 10th time in program history. The Razorbacks are going for the sixth time under 17th-year head coach Dave Van Horn, who has coached eight teams to the College World Series since 2001.

Van Horn’s eight appearances are second to Florida State’s Mike Martin (17) among active head coaches.

In a series full of blowouts, Arkansas delivered the final blow with several big swings Monday. The Razorbacks scored four runs in the second inning, three in the third and five in the sixth to squash any opportunity at an Ole Miss comeback.

Casey Opitz’s two-run home run capped the Razorbacks’ sixth inning and put Arkansas ahead 14-1.

Ole Miss (41-27) scored first on Cooper Johnson’s two-out RBI single in the top of the first inning, but the Rebels barely threatened the rest of the way.

Arkansas reliever Cody Scroggins earned his third victory with a 4 1/3-inning outing that came after starter Patrick Wicklander recorded just five outs.

Scroggins inherited runners on second and third base with two outs in the second inning, but struck out Ryan Olenek on a 3-2 fastball to end the top of the second inning and keep the Razorbacks within 1-0.

Arkansas took the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Opitz had an RBI single to tie the game, Jacob Nesbit followed with an RBI double to give the Razorbacks the lead and Trevor Ezell’s two-run single extended the lead to 4-1.

Heston Kjerstad and Opitz both had RBI hits in the third inning to put Arkansas ahead 7-1 and chase Ole Miss starter Gunnar Hoglund, a freshman right hander who allowed 6 runs on 5 hits.

Christian Franklin scored on a passed ball in the fourth inning and Kjerstad hit a 396-foot home run to right field in the fifth to put the Razorbacks ahead 9-1.

From there it was a multi-hour party for the big home crowd as they could sense Omaha was in reach. The fans erupted at every opportunity, including two great defensive plays in the top of the eighth inning - a double play started by Ezell and a tag out at home plate on a great throw from center fielder Dominic Fletcher to end the inning.

The Razorbacks finished with 12 hits to bring the three-game series total to 35. They scored 30 runs against the Rebels.

Arkansas evened the season series with Ole Miss at four games apiece. The Rebels won a regular-season series at Baum-Walker Stadium in March and the teams split two games at the SEC Tournament last month.

The Razorbacks improved to 33-7 in games at home this year, one shy of last season’s record for home wins in a single season.

Arkansas players customarily dog-piled at the end of the game but the super regional victory was just another step in a season-long quest for redemption after the Razorbacks came within one out of winning the national championship last season.

In Omaha, Arkansas will be the second-highest-seeded team in the field, and the highest seed in its quadrant that will include Florida State, Texas Tech and Michigan. The Seminoles and Wolverines were two of the final four teams admitted as at-large teams to this year’s NCAA Tournament, but advanced to the College World Series with road victories in regionals and super regionals.

Texas Tech was the No. 8 national seed in the tournament.

On the other side of the bracket in Omaha will be three national seeds - No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 6 Mississippi State and No. 7 Louisville, along with Auburn.

Arkansas improved to 4-0 in super regionals played in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks defeated Florida State in 2004, Missouri State in 2015 and South Carolina last season.

Under Van Horn, Arkansas has won six of seven super regionals, with its only super regional series loss coming in 2010 at Arizona State.

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