It wasn’t the domination we saw in the first two days. It certainly wasn’t pretty baseball a lot of the times, but after nine innings Arkansas scrapped and clawed their way to a 4-3 win over Dallas Baptist and punched their ticket to the Super Regionals.
Things got off to a real rocky start, when Isaiah Campbell didn’t even record an out. After two walks and a single, he was pulled for Jake Reindl. That proved to be the right move as he got out of the jam allowing just one run. Then he got out of a two on, nobody out jam in the second allowing just one run. There was some clutch pitching to leave the bases loaded in the fourth as well. His performance was the third outstanding pitching performance from the Hogs this weekend. Each game Arkansas had a pitcher throw at least seven innings and gave up just two or fewer runs.
Dallas Baptist started well but couldn’t put a crooked number on the board and with each inning you felt they would regret leaving all those baserunners on. In the first four innings, DBU stranded eight runners. After that the Hogs struck. Arkansas turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Luke Bonfield and Dominic Fletcher singled, then a groundout from Carson Shaddy was enough to bring home one. Grant Koch then took a single the other way to give the Hogs the lead.
To show how strange this game got, we just need to follow Heston Kjerstad’s night. In the top of the fifth, the Hogs were a pop up away from a 1-2-3 inning, their first of the night. That pop up glanced off Kjerstad’s face and the inning continued. The next inning Kjerstad redeemed himself with an absolute robbery to keep the Hogs ahead.
Then in the seventh, with two on and two out, Kjerstad came up and his single gave the Hogs a deciding fourth run. After that Matt Cronin came on and struckout the side in the eighth, and closed the door in the ninth after a sac fly.
Arkansas gets to stay at home next weekend in the Super Regionals. They’ll face either South Carolina in a rematch of a series at Baum this year, or UNCW. The Gamecocks are currently in the 2-0 spot in the regional and are the much more likely team to advance. The Hogs finished the first step of their post season goals. Now it’s two more wins to Omaha, and the job will get even more difficult.