STILLWATER, Okla. –Arkansas scored eight runs in the top of the eighth inning to complete a rally from five runs, and the Razorbacks shocked Oklahoma State with a wild 20-12 victory Saturday night at O’Brate Stadium.
Arkansas (40-18) has qualified for the NCAA Stillwater Regional championship, where it will face either Oklahoma State or Missouri State on Sunday at 6 p.m. The Razorbacks have two chances to register a victory that would send them to the super regional round.
Oklahoma State (40-21) will face Missouri State (31-28) in a playoff game Sunday at noon. Either team must win three games in two days to win the regional.
Missouri State saved its season by rallying from a six-run deficit in the final two innings to defeat Grand Canyon 8-7 earlier in the day.
Arkansas tied a season high with seven homers, including a grand slam by shortstop Jalen Battles on reliever Trevor Martin’s first pitch to punctuate the start of the eighth inning, which saw the Razorbacks go from a 10-8 deficit to a 16- 10 lead.
The Battles home run sent many orange-clad OSU fans heading for the exits as hundreds in red called out the Hogs.
Before Battles got to the plate, Arkansas put seven runners on base with just one hit, a first single by Peyton Stovall.
Zack Gregory and Braydon Webb were hit by pitches before OSU reliever Roman Phansalkar was replaced by Cowboys third baseman Nolan McLean. McLean knocked out Brady Slavens for the first out, but back-to-back Cayden Wallace and Michael Turner batted to tie the game 10-10.
McLean then hit Chris Lanzilli with a pitch to put the Razorbacks ahead, 11-10. Robert Moore also drew a base-loaded walk to force another run and another pitching switch, from McLean to Martin.
Arkansas added four more runs in the ninth inning. Lanzilli hit a three-run home run – the 50th of his career – before Moore scored on an error that followed a two-out single from Peyton Stovall.
The Razorbacks’ 20 points are tied for second in an NCAA postseason game, one shy of the record 21 points scored in a super regional win over North Carolina State. last year.
Arkansas trailed Oklahoma State by five runs on several occasions, including 10-5 after the Cowboys scored three runs against relievers Zack Morris and Kole Ramage late in the sixth inning.
The Razorbacks cut OSU’s lead to 10-8 in the top of the seventh on a pair of two-hit home runs by Turner and Moore.
After Jake Thompson started the bottom of the seventh with a brace against Zebulon Vermillion, Arkansas called on their closest, Brady Tygart, to keep the game close. Tygart walked a pair of batters to load the bases, but Chase Adkison failed Moore at second base to block the loaded bases.
The Cowboys scored twice against Tygart in the bottom of the eighth. Caeden Trenkle walked and Zach Ehrhard was hit by a pitch before Brett Brown scored both with a two-out single.
Will McEntire replaced Tygart and caused a late inning flyout from David Mendham. McEntire retired all four batters he faced to close out the game.
Arkansas played from behind for most of the game after the Cowboys scored five runs late in the third to take a 7-2 lead.
McLean hit a two-run home run to left center off reliever Evan Taylor to give the Cowboys a 4-2 lead. Taylor allowed two more base runners before being replaced by Morris with one out in the inning. Morris hooked his first pitch to Roc Riggio, who drove the breaking ball over the right field fence to give OSU a 7-2 lead.
Arkansas made its first comeback offer in the middle of the inning. Wallace started the fourth inning with the Razorbacks’ third homer of the game, and Turner’s two-run single in the fifth cut the Cowboys’ lead to 7-5.
Turner, Lanzilli, Moore and Battles all had 4 RBIs for the Razorbacks.
It appeared Arkansas would cut the lead even further in the sixth after Battles singled and Stovall was hit by a pitch on a straight strikeout. With runners on the corners, Webb drove a two-out understudy that was caught on a running dive by center fielder Trenkle to deny the Razorbacks at least one point.
Arkansas performed well against OSU All-America right-hander Justin Campbell, who allowed 5 runs and 7 hits in 5 innings. But the Razorbacks didn’t get off to a great start from freshman left-hander Hagen Smith, whose 1 1/3 inning start was his shortest of the year.
Smith worked hard for a 38-pitch first inning that ended when Marcus Brown hit a fielder’s pick at third base with the bases loaded.
Smith was retired after 46 pitches, including 22 strikes.
Slavens and Moore hit solo home runs in the first and second innings to give Arkansas the lead.
OSU responded to the two runs late in the inning. Riggio walked, advanced on crazy ground and scored on a throwing error by third baseman Wallace to tie the game 1-1 late in the first.
Riggio doubled against Taylor in the second inning to score Adkison, who started on a walk on Smith.
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