CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Teammates mobbed senior designated hitter Brady Slavens on the right side of the infield Sunday evening, celebrating his walk-off single which clinched a trip to the College World Series for Arkansas.
The Razorbacks rallied in the ninth to knock off the No. 10 North Carolina Tar Heels, 4-3, in the second game of the Chapel Hill Super Regional.
Just like the series opener, Sunday’s contest began as a pitchers’ duel. It was not until the fourth inning, when senior shortstop Jalen Battles laced an RBI double into the left field corner, that the scoring started.
Senior center fielder Braydon Webb made it a 2-0 game when he belted a one-out solo homer over the shallow fence right-center field.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Will McEntire followed senior righty Connor Noland’s lead, allowing no runs in 5 2/3 innings. He surrendered three hits, walked two batters and struck out four, and he only dealt with more than one baserunner once.
Senior right-hander Kole Ramage was the first Razorback out of the bullpen. After a one-pitch out to end the threat in the sixth, he gave up a leadoff hit and plunked the next hitter, both of whom ended up scoring.
Freshman righty Brady Tygart took over after a sacrifice bunt with senior left-hander Evan Taylor on the mound, and the Tar Heels erased the deficit on an RBI groundout and a wild pitch.
Freshman lefty Hagen Smith got the chance to earn his third consecutive save, and his outing began smoothly, keeping the game tied after a lengthy weather delay in the eighth.
Things went awry in the ninth when North Carolina catcher Tomas Frick led off with a double. After a strikeout and a flyout, second baseman Patrick Alvarez, who entered as a defensive replacement and was hitting .121, singled to give the Tar Heels the lead.
Facing the possibility of a winner-take-all third game Monday, Battles led off the bottom of the ninth with a single. Freshman first baseman Peyton Stovall kept the line moving with his fourth hit of the super regional, and freshman pinch hitter Kendall Diggs drew a walk to load the bases.
Webb grounded into a fielder’s choice to tie it, and with the left-handed Slavens due up, North Carolina opted to bring in left-hander Caden O’Brien. Slavens ripped a 1-0 pitch past the diving Alvarez, and the Hogs won their first super regional since 2019.
In its first CWS game, Arkansas will meet the winner of the Stanford Super Regional, in which UConn leads No. 2 Stanford 1-0. The World Series is set to begin Friday, but the Razorbacks may not play until Saturday.