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Hogs top Pokes 7-3, advance to Super Regional

Two-out hitting and lockdown pitching lifted the Razorbacks to a 7-3 victory over No. 7 Oklahoma State and a spot in the super regional round.

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STILLWATER, Okla. — With the bases loaded, one out and a two-run lead in the eighth inning Monday night, Arkansas freshman left-handed pitcher Hagen Smith was in trouble.

Two strikeouts later, all the momentum was in the Razorbacks’ dugout, and they carried it to a 7-3 victory over Oklahoma State to clinch the Stillwater Regional and a fourth consecutive appearance in the super regional round.

Oklahoma State right-handed pitcher Ryan Bogusz and Arkansas junior lefty Zack Morris exchanged three scoreless innings to begin the contest. It was senior designated hitter Brady Slavens who busted the deadlock with a leadoff homer in the fourth.

The Razorbacks made the Cowboys pay for a walk and a hit batter with a pair of two-out knocks later in the frame. Senior shortstop Jalen Battles notched two RBIs with his single to left, and he advanced to second on the throw home.

That set him up to score on freshman first baseman Peyton Stovall’s seventh single of the regional.

The two squads traded runs in the sixth to make it 5-1. The Hogs picked up an unearned run on Stovall’s second RBI knock in as many at-bats.

Battles walked and moved into scoring position on an errant pickoff attempt, giving Stovall the chance to drive him in, but Oklahoma State first baseman David Mendham took senior righty Kole Ramage deep in the bottom of the inning to get the run back.

After 2 2/3 innings of one-run ball, Ramage hit a wall in the seventh, surrendering a pair of singles and a ground-rule double to make it 5-2.

Senior right-hander Zebulon Vermillion came on with two runners in scoring position and the tying run at the plate with nobody out, and he limited the damage to a sacrifice fly.

Vermillion surrendered a leadoff single to begin the eighth, prompting the change to Smith. After a hit batter, a 5-6 fielder’s choice and a walk, he faced a bases-loaded jam.

Smith fanned nine-hole hitter Chase Adkison, only to face the red-hot Roc Riggio at the top of the order. Riggio went down on strikes as well, and a very fired-up Smith went back to the dugout with the two-run lead intact.

Michael Turner (Walt Beazley / Arkansas Communications)

Graduate catcher Michael Turner gave the Razorbacks a four-run cushion with his two-out, two-run double to right field in the ninth. The RBIs were his 10th and 11th of the NCAA Tournament, and he earned Stillwater Regional Most Outstanding Player honors for his eight-hit performance.

Smith polished off his two-inning save with a pair of strikeouts in the ninth, and Arkansas moved on to its fourth straight super regional.

The Hogs are scheduled to meet the No. 10 North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill later this week. The first game will be played Friday or Saturday, and the winner of the best-of-three super regional will head to Omaha, Nebraska, for the College World Series.

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