By OLIVER GRIGG
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – One win away from Omaha.
No. 1 Arkansas hit four home runs and demolished No. 16 NC State, 21-2, on Friday evening at Baum-Walker Stadium in the opening game of the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional.
The Razorbacks, who now lead the nation in home runs with 106, set a school record for most runs scored in an NCAA Tournament game with 21 in Friday night’s win, surpassing the previous best of 18 against Missouri State (6/5/15) during the Super Regionals at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Arkansas fell behind 1-0 before scoring 21 unanswered runs between the bottom of the second and bottom of the eighth innings. The Razorbacks put up crooked numbers in the second, third, fifth, sixth and eighth, bashing four home runs and collecting 10 extra-base hits in the process.
Robert Moore had a night to remember, swatting his first of two dingers in the bottom half of the second to erase the Hogs’ early deficit with a two-run shot to right. His second and final homer of the evening – a three-run shot to left center in the bottom of the eighth – was his team-leading 16th of the season and broke the school record for most runs scored in postseason history.
Moore matched his career bests in hits (4) and home runs (2) on the night, setting a new career high in runs scored (5) in the 21-2 win. He was one of six Razorbacks, along with Matt Goodheart, Charlie Welch, Cullen Smith, Casey Opitz and Jalen Battles, to rack up double-digit base knocks in the ballgame.
Welch’s three-hit night included four RBI, two of which came on his second home run in as many games. Smith had a two-hit outing and drove in all four of his runs on a grand slam in the bottom of the third, while Opitz and Brady Slavens also collected multiple RBI in the win.
Patrick Wicklander started for Arkansas and turned in his fifth quality start of the year. The left-hander, who lowered his ERA to 2.11 and earned his seventh win of the season, struck out six in six innings of one-run ball while allowing six hits and walking two.
Heston Tole pitched two scoreless frames in relief and matched his career high in strikeouts with four. Kole Ramage handled the final inning, punching out two while working around a two-out RBI triple.
The Hogs will advance to the College World Series for the 11th time in program history with one more victory in the best-of-three series against the Wolfpack. Arkansas is the away team in Saturday’s contest at Baum-Walker Stadium, which is set for 2 p.m. on ESPN2 with Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Todd Walker (analyst) on the call.
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