The Diamond Hogs are headed back to the College World Series for the first time since 2012 and for the fourth time under head coach Dave Van Horn.
The Hogs got off to a hot start by scoring three runs in the top of the first. After a Bobby Wernes single, Andrew Benintendi drew a walk to put two runners on for Tyler Spoon. With giant spoons waving in the air, Spoon singled through the left side scoring Wernes and moving Benintendi to third. Rick Nomura hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Benintendi. Brett McAfee capped off the scoring with a RBI single to left field, scoring Spoon. This was a huge confidence booster for James Teague, who got to work with a 3-0 lead before he threw his first pitch.
Teague kept it interesting during his four innings of work. He forced Missouri State to leave seven runners on base while only giving up one unearned run, five hits, and two walks while striking out four.
"James pitched a heck of a game today," Spoon said. "He did exactly what we asked of him."
Lance Phillips relieved Teague to start the fifth and retired the side in four batters. He found trouble in the sixth. After striking out the first batter, he gave up a single and a walk. It was Enter Sandman for the Hogs as Zach Jackson came on for the 11 out save. The question of how many pitches he could throw ran rampant on twitter.
"I was fine," Jackson said. "Today, the adrenaline took over and you don't feel a whole lot."
Jackson gave up a RBI single to the first batter he faced. He did not give up another hit in the game after that.
"He has a breaking ball that very few people on earth can hit," Missouri State head coach Keith Guttin said of Zach Jackson.
Six of the final nine outs for the Bears were strike outs. Yes, that's right. Jackson struck out 66% of the final Missouri State outs to get the 3 2/3 inning save.
The Razorbacks only had two runners in scoring position after the first inning. But, the three runs they scored before any of their three dominant pitchers ever touched the mound was all they needed to earn a trip to Omaha.
Hog fans came out strong for only the second time to host a super regional in school history as 11,694 watched the Razorbacks clinch their birth to Omaha. The grand total attendance for the weekend was 35,730. It's hard to believe another super regional this season will have more people than that.
Arkansas will face Virginia in their opening game at the College World Series. The Cavaliers were a #3 seed in the UC Santa Barbara regional and swept Maryland in the super regional.
As unbelievable as it is, this team that started the season 14-14 is headed to Omaha.