Omaha, Neb. (AP) — Conor Noland allowed one run in 7 2/3 skilful innings, Chris Lanzilli beat a three-run homer and Arkansas beat No. 2 national seed Stanford 17-2 on Saturday. World Series game in 34 years.
The Razorbacks knocked out Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Alex Williams in the fifth inning and recorded their biggest margin of victory in 36 CWS games. It was Stanford’s biggest defeat in their 73 CWS games.
“I thought we just played a great game,” said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. “Started on the mound with pitching. Extraordinary. Lots of strikes. The defense behind him was also excellent. And aggressively moved the bat up and down the lineup very well. Production ranged from 1 to 9.”
The Razorbacks (44-19) will play against the winner of Saturday night’s game between Auburn and Mississippi on Monday. Stanford (47-17) will play the loser in the elimination game.
Arkansas scored 11 runs in the last three innings and finished with a season-high 21 hits, including Cayden Wallace’s 30th career homer in ninth.
“This is not what you want the country to see. We have not been that team,” said Stanford coach David Esker. “You can’t let (the players) worry about it or feel like it’s their defining moment of the season. It’s just one of those you have to flush.”
Noland (8-5) surrendered a homer to Stanford leadoff man Brock Jones on his third pitch, but with the help of a defense that made a double play to get him out of two jams, Stanford did not score again. did until Carter Graham greeted reliever Cole Ramge with a base hit in eighth place.
Noland threw only 79 pitches on a hot, humid afternoon, when the temperature soared to 106 degrees. He inspired 11 groundball outs and seven flyouts, and his only strike came in the sixth inning. Aside from Jones’ homer, all the Cardinals against him were five singles and walks.
“I knew he was going to swing the bat. They are an aggressive team, they love to play the ball,” Noland said. “Our wind was blowing. I normally get a lot of ground balls. I just stuck to the plan. I let the defense work behind me.”
Razorbacks fans rose up and gave Noland an ovation for “Calling the Hogs” as he hugged teammates and walked from the mound to the dugout.
“Our offense did a good job of playing the ball and testing their defence,” Jones said. “He had a really good defense today, and he was able to pound the zone.”
Williams (8-4) struggled for a third straight start in the NCAA Tournament. He gave a triple to Braydon Webb on the first pitch of the game, hit a batsman and issued a walk but was only out of the innings 1–0.
Williams settled the next three innings, then dropped back-to-back singles in the fifth, before Lanzilli converted a dozen rows into left-center seats to make it 4–1.
“That’s really why I came here to play on this stage,” said Lanzili, who had moved from Wake Forest. “And doing something like this is awesome, and winning the game is even better. I just want to keep it going.”
When Robert Moore followed with a base hit, the day was over for Williams, who has conceded 16 runs in his last 10 1/3 innings (13.94 ERA).
The Razorbacks, which managed only three hits in a 5–0 loss to Stanford in February, suffered the Cardinals’ worst loss in the CWS since Arizona State beat Wichita State 19–1 in 1988.
It was Arkansas’ first win over the Cardinals since the 1985 CWS.
“Today’s score got out of hand,” Van Horn said. “And I think the coach was Esker – he didn’t want to say that – but he threw some guys that they wouldn’t normally pitch. In those last three innings we scored 10, 11. You got him a little off the board. We can take some away. He is trying to recover from that where we can play again.”
Stanford is in a familiar position after winning three elimination games at Regionals and two at Super Regionals.
“We’ve been playing with our back ups against the wall for some time now,” Esker said. “It looks like we did our best when it happened.”
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