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Slavens walks it off to send Hogs to Omaha

LSU v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — For the first time since 2009, the Arkansas Razorbacks walked off a postseason game, this time on a single by Brady Slavens to send the Hogs to Omaha for the 11th time.

The Hogs took game one of the Super Regional series with a 4-1 win on Saturday afternoon, and the come-from-behind 4-3 win on Sunday got the job done.

“This is awesome. This is special because of the way it went down last year,” Dave Van Horn said. “It was tough last year at this time.

“It never gets old, it’s hard. What never gets old is the satisfaction and smiles on the player’s faces. I mean, it’s something they’ll never forget.”

Slavens told the ESPN crews after the game that Jalen Battles told him before he got up to bat “this is why we came back.”

The Hogs got on the board first off a double by Jalen Battles down the third-base line to score Chris Lanzilli. Leadoff hitter Braydon Webb would follow up with a run of his own, a solo home run to right center field in the fifth.

The lead would be short-lived, however. Relief pitcher Kole Ramage came on in relief of Will McEntire, who gave the Hogs their second-straight day of solid starting pitching with no runs on three hits. Ramage got out of the sixth inning, but put the first two batters of the seventh on.

Coach Van Horn then turned to Evan Taylor who induced a groundout to Eric Grintz, allowing the runner on third to score. Then, Van Horn brought Brady Tygart in the game. He finished the seventh inning, but allowed the Tar Heels to tie the game on a wild pitch.

Coming out of a lightning delay, freshman pitcher Hagen Smith came in the game, and even though he brought the heart rate of Arkansas fans up, got out of the eighth inning unscathed.

In the top of the ninth, many Hog fans had flashbacks of 2021 as Patrick Alvarez, who hadn’t scored an RBI since February, drilled a line drive to give North Carolina a 3-2 lead. Last season, it was a solo home run in the top of the ninth that ended the Razorbacks’ season.

They would not go quietly into the night, though. Battles got on base on an infield single, Stovall got on with a single, Kendall Diggs drew a walk, Braydon Webb tied the game on a fielders choice, and Slavens finished things off with a base hit to win the game.

Up next, the Hogs will head to Omaha, with the hopes of a national title not far off.