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Razorback baseball defeats North Carolina 4-1 in super regional opener

Arkansas moves within one win of a trip to the College World Series.
Credit: AP
Arkansas's Connor Noland (13) reacts following a ground out by North Carolina's Mikey Madej, not pictured, during the first inning of an NCAA college super regional baseball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, June 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Hogs are one win away from another trip to Omaha.

Arkansas rode a stellar outing on the mound from Connor Noland to a 4-1 win over North Carolina in the first game of the Chapel Hill Super Regional.

The victory means that the Diamond Hogs need to win just once in the next two days to secure the program's 11th College World Series appearance, and the first since 2019.

Noland set the tone for the Razorbacks from the beginning on the mound. 

The Tar Heels loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first, but from there, Noland forced a strikeout and made a great defensive play on a hard hit ground out up the middle to get out of the inning unscathed.

After that, the Greenwood-native settled in, delivering 6.2 shutout innings, striking out six batters on 89 pitches, while allowing six hits.

The game became a pitchers' battle until Arkansas broke through in the fifth.

Leading off the inning, Peyton Stovall took the first pitch he saw and launched deep to right center field for a solo homer to put the Razorbacks on the board.

The Hogs weren't done in the inning, though. Brady Slavens came up and delivered an RBI single to center field that doubled the Arkansas lead.

A sacrifice fly from Cayden Wallace later in the inning gave Arkansas a 3-0 through four and a half innings.

Arkansas tacked on another insurance run in the seventh inning, with Slavens delivering for the second time of the game.

With Braydon Webb on first and Zack Gregory on second, Slavens delivered a first-pitch single up the middle. Webb was thrown at third, but Gregory easily crossed home safely to make it a 4-0 Razorback advantage.

North Carolina didn't get on the board until the bottom of the eighth inning, when the Tar Heels' freshman phenom Vance Honeycutt sent a two-out solo home run off Evan Taylor over the wall in left center field.

Hagen Smith then came on and closed things out in the ninth inning.

The Hogs now find themselves in the same situation as last year against NC State, up 1-0 in the super regional.

While the Wolfpack came back to win the super regional last year, winning the first game is still an incredible advantage. Since the tournament expanded in 1999, 80% of the teams that have won the first game of the super regional have gone on to win the series.

The Razorbacks and Tar Heels will be back in action on Sunday at 12 p.m. on either ESPN or ESPN2.

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