Facing elimination against Texas Tech, Arkansas lost their second one-run game of the College World Series to end their season with a 46-20 record. After losing the final game of the NCAA tournament last year, they are the first team to go home in 2019 and will look to build upon a young lineup to try and return for a third straight trip next year.
The game started well for Arkansas, who was the visiting team, as they gave freshman starter Connor Noland a three run lead after three innings. Heston Kjerstad hit a one-out, solo, opposite field home run int he second to take an early 1-0 lead.
Then in the third, Casey Martin chased home Christian Franklin with a two-out triple, which was followed up by Matt Goodheart’s RBI single to make it 3-0.
That would be all the Hogs could muster off of junior Caleb Kilian, however, who went 7 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, 1 walk, and striking out 9.
Noland was chased after the fourth inning, in which he gave up a two-run home run to Cameron Warren. He allowed just 2 earned runs on 4 hits, 1 walk, and struck out 2. Kevin Kopps came on in relief of Noland to start the fifth and allowed a solo shot to former Razorback Easton Murrell in the 5th, and another to Josh Jung in the 6th to make it a 3-4 game.
The Hogs manufactured a run to tie it in the eight when Dominic Fletcher drew a one-out walk and moved to third on a single by Kjerstad. Jack Kenley then put together an impressive at bat that saw him foul off five pitches in a row before driving Fletcher home on a sacrifice fly to left field, making it a 4-4 ball game.
Cody Scroggins came on with one on in the bottom of the 8th and, after a caught stealing and a strikeout, walked Warren with two outs, an at bat that seemed inconsequential as long as the big first baseman didn’t get a good pitch to hit. Then, Warren took off running on a 3-1 pitch that was smoked off the right centerfield wall for a triple. The 5-4 Texas Tech lead held in the 9th despite the Hogs putting the 8 and 9 batters on with no outs.
A year after reaching the CWS Championship Series, expectations were high for this year’s team once they reached Omaha. However, that was not exactly the commentary heading into the season after losing so much from last year’s team. Dave Van Horn made his team much better between the time they lost to Oregon State last year and when this season started. I, for one am excited to see who comes along moving forward to improve this team next year. Unlike this time last year, a return to Omaha feels like a realistic expectation.