Razorbacks eliminate Auburn, advance to semifinals at College World Series

By: Matt Jones

Matt Jones's Twitter account

Published: Tuesday, June 21, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. — Arkansas is alive and well at the College World Series.

The Razorbacks rolled to an 11-1 victory over Auburn in an elimination game Tuesday at Schwab Field to set up a rematch with Ole Miss in a national semifinal Wednesday at 6 pm

Arkansas (45-20) must beat the Rebels (39-22) on Wednesday to force a decisive game that would determine which team will play in the national championship series. Ole Miss, which defeated the Razorbacks 13-5 on Monday, needs only one victory to advance.

Will McEntire, a right hander from Bryant, pitched masterfully in his first start in Omaha. McEntire did not allow a hit until the fourth inning and allowed 3 hits and 1 walk, and struck out 9 batters in 7 innings. He threw 62 of 98 pitches for strikes in the longest outing of his career.

Arkansas provided run support for McEntire before he stepped foot on the mound. Braydon Webb doubled on the first pitch of the game and scored when Peyton Stovall singled in the next at-bat to put the Razorbacks ahead 1-0.

Auburn starting pitcher Mason Barnett labored through a 33-pitch first inning, but stranded Stovall at third base with an inning-ending strikeout of Chris Lanzilli to keep the game 1-0.

It was one of the few times Arkansas didn’t come through with a big two-out hit. Barnett was replaced when Lanzilli singled and Robert Moore doubled in consecutive two-out at-bats in the third inning to put the Razorbacks ahead 4-0. In the fourth inning, Turner hit a two-run double with two outs and Lanzilli followed with a 416-foot home run to left field on the next pitch to stretch the lead to 8-0.

Arkansas out-hit Auburn 16-4. The Razorbacks scored 10 runs with two outs in an inning, including all seven runs that were plated during the pivotal third and fourth innings.

McEntire, meanwhile, carved through the Tigers’ lineup. He faced the minimum through three innings, and struck out all six batters he faced during the second and third.

Auburn did not record a hit against him until Sonny DiChiara’s two-out single in the fourth. The Tigers’ only run against him came on Bobby Peirce’s leadoff home run in the seventh to cut the lead to 9-1.

McEntire’s nine strikeouts were the second most by an Arkansas pitcher at the College World Series. Isaiah Campbell struck out 10 over eight innings in a 1-0 loss to Florida State in 2019.

Turner added a two-out RBI single in the sixth inning to give Arkansas a 9-0 lead. The Razorbacks’ catcher finished 3 for 4 with 3 RBI, and is 8 for 14 with 4 RBI at the College World Series.

Stovall added a two-run single with the bases loaded, which scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning to cap Arkansas’ scoring. Stovall, who moved from No. 8 to No. 2 in the batting order before the game, finished 5 for 6 with 3 RBI. He was the first Razorback to record five hits in a College World Series game.

Auburn (43-22) was eliminated one day after it won its first College World Series game in 25 years. The Razorbacks improved to 3-1 against the Tigers. Arkansas won two of three games at Auburn in May.

It was during that series that McEntire made his debut in an SEC game with 3 1/3 innings of relief in the series finale on May 8. McEntire pitched three consecutive scoreless innings during that game before he allowed a run in the ninth inning.

Used as a starter for midweek nonconference games for most of the regular season, McEntire has seen more important innings since his relief outing at Auburn. He started and threw 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision in the second game of Arkansas’ super regional at North Carolina last week, and in 19 1/3 postseason innings he has a 1.86 ERA.

Senior right hander Zebulon Vermillion retired Auburn in four pitches in the eighth inning and freshman Austin Ledbetter allowed a one-out hit to DiChiara in the ninth, and the game ended on a double play in the next at-bat.

The Razorbacks are in the national semifinals for the sixth time in program history, and fourth time under 20th-year head coach Dave Van Horn. Arkansas was also a semifinalist in 1979, 1985, 2009, 2012 and 2018.

Three of this year’s semifinalists are from the SEC. In addition to Arkansas and Ole Miss, Texas A&M advanced to the semifinal round with a 5-1 victory over Notre Dame on Tuesday. The Aggies will play future SEC member Oklahoma in the semifinals.

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