By Nate Allen
FAYETTEVILLE – Dave Van Horn’s quick hook, Cody Scroggins’ arm and an Arkansas batting barrage rocketed the Razorbacks 14-1 by the Ole Miss Rebels in Monday’s winner-take-all Super Regional final before 10,093 ticket scanned and total paid 11,095 at Baum-Walker Stadium and this weekend on to Omaha and the College World Series.
It marks the 10th College World Series in University of Arkansas history, the fifth under Van Horn’s coaching, and following last year’s national runner-up the UA’s first consecutive CWS trips to Omaha.
“What a great win for our program, the state, the university,. the fans,” Van Horn said.” “For us to get back to Omaha for the second year in a row. It’s hard enough just to get there once every now and then. But to get there two years in a row …”
Arising from a postgame on to Omaha dog pile, the Razorbacks, 46-18 and regular season SEC West co-champions become Fayetteville Regional champions and now Super Regional champions, will play Florida State in their first-round College World Series with the either Saturday or Sunday date and time yet to be assigned.
Coach Mike Bianco’s SEC West Rebels finish their season 41-28.
Down to Monday winner-take-all with Arkansas winning 11-2 Saturday behind Isaiah Campbell, and Ole Miss winning, 13-5 jumping early on Arkansas freshman starter Connor Noland, Van Horn pulled freshman lefty starter Patrick Wicklander for junior veteran right-hander Scroggins mid-batter only down 1-0 with two out in the second but after a 9-hole hit batsman on an 0-2 pitch, then a walk and wild pitch.
A regular season game, Van Horn said he would have stuck with Wicklander whom he said he told, “Get ready to pitch next week.”
But he had to go to his bullpen with all on the line against hard hitting team the Hogs played eight times and finished 4-4 through SEC, SEC Tournament plus three Super Regional games.
Striking out No. 2-hole hitter Ryan Olenek, Scroggins stranded the Rebels who never scored beyond their first-inning run off Wicklander.
“ Cody was the MVP of the game,” Van Horn said. “I mean, without him we might not win that game.
“I think it really, the difference between down one and maybe three if they get a base hit was huge.
Upon the second-inning strikeout, Scroggins proceeded to pitch 4 1-3 shutout innings allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out eight.
“I knew it was my time,” Scroggins said. “I came in the second inning and he just told me the count and said go get ‘em and that’s what I did. I knew I had control of all three pitches both to lefties and righties. I knew it was gonna be really fun for me today and that’s what happened.”
Casey Opitz, catching Scroggins, and Rebels Cooper Johnson and Thomas Dillard trying to hit against him, all confirmed Scroggins had everything working.
“I knew he was ready for that kind of moment,” Opitz said. “I could tell from him warming up that he had his stuff that day (today) and he was gonna be something special.”
Scroggins certainly was but so seemed all the Hogs, Bianco said.
“Obviously today it was all Arkansas in every phase of the game,” Bianco said. “Offensively and Scroggins out of the bullpen was tremendous and really gave them a lift and we just couldn’t figure him out. It was just their day. I’m certain they will do really well next week in Omaha.”
Scroggins, the Bentonville native ex-infielder become Boston Red Sox pitching draft choice bequeathed a 14-1 to relievers Jacob Kostyshock and Matt Cronin to finish tuning up for Omaha after no work the previous two lopsided games.
For Arkansas’ 12-hit attack Heston Kjerstad went 3 for 4 with two doubles, a home run and sacrifice fly for four RBI, and Casey Opitz went 3 for 3 with four RBI including Arkansas’ first two in the second inning plus a 2-run home run during a 5-run sixth.
Also senior leadoff hitter Trevor Ezell of Bryant went 3 for 5 with two RBI.
Bianco said Ezell’s 2-strike out 2-run single and Jacob Nesbit’s 2-strike RBI double down third in the 4-run second were the biggest at bats of the game.
Van Horn concurred.
“Big two-strike hit by Jacob Nesbit,” Van Horn said. “But then for Trevor Ezell to come through with that really good at-bat, runners second and third. We’ve got a 2-1 lead at the time. Fouled off a couple of pitches, I think the count was 2-2 and he got a change-up down and he slapped it in the four hole. All of a sudden we’re up 4-1 and man you could just really feel the momentum switch to us.”
Until Texarkana native turned Rebel Zack Phillips retired the Razorbacks in the seventh and eighth, the Hogs pounded losing starter Gunnar Hoglund, chased during Arkansas; 3-run second, and top relievers Austin Miller and Parker Caracci to score four in the second, three in the third, one each in the fourth and fifth and five in the sixth.
“It was just their day,” Bianco said.
And now Omaha is their trip. Again.
Ole Miss…..100 000 000 – 1 7 0
Arkansas….043 115 00x – 14 12 0
Hoglund, Miller (3), Caracci (5), Phillips (6) and Johnson; Wicklander, Scroggins (2), Kostyshock (7), Cronin (9) and Opitz.
W-Scroggins (3-0). L-Hoglund (3-3).
HR-Arkansas: Kjerstad (16). Opitz (3).