OMAHA, Neb. Arkansas will play for a baseball national championship for the first time since 1979.
The Razorbacks defeated No. 1 seed and defending national champion Florida 5-2 on Friday night at TD Ameritrade Park to advance to the final round of the College World Series. Arkansas (47-19) will play the winner of Saturday's game between Mississippi State and Oregon State in the best-of-three championship series beginning Monday.
Arkansas has never won a national championship in baseball and has not played in the championship round since 1979 when it lost to Cal State Fullerton. The Razorbacks have never played in the best-of-three championship format that was implemented in 2003.
Freshman Casey Martin was 4-for-5 and scored three runs to help Arkansas defeat Florida for the third time in five meetings this season. Martin singled and scored in the first and third innings, and doubled and scored in the fifth to give the Razorbacks a 3-0 lead. He also had a two-out RBI infield single to score Jared Gates in the sixth and extend Arkansas' lead to 5-2.
Redshirt sophomore right-hander Isaiah Campbell retired the first 14 batters he faced and earned his fifth win of the season. Campbell struck out a career-high eight batters - also an Arkansas record at the College World Series - in 5 1/3 innings.
"It really started with Isaiah Campbell tonight," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "His stuff was electric for the first 4-5 innings. I think he had a perfect game going into the fifth and only a couple of balls were hit hard in the first four innings for sure.
"He gave us a chance to get out and get a couple-run lead. He kept pounding the zone."
Jake Reindl came out of the bullpen to strand a runner in the sixth inning and worked around a pair of one-out walks in the seventh. Closer Matt Cronin recorded the final six outs to earn his 13th save, tying the school record previously set by Colby Suggs in 2013. Suggs is Arkansas' bullpen coach.
Arkansas' success against Florida ace Brady Singer continued Friday night. The Razorbacks handed the right-hander his third loss of the season after tagging him with four earned runs on seven hits in five innings. Singer is 0-3 with an 11.77 ERA against Arkansas in three career starts.
Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan didn't think Singer had a bad outing.
"I don't think he pitched terribly. I think he made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on it," O'Sullivan said. "In the first inning I think they ran his pitch count up around 30 pitches and I don't think it has as much to do with Brady as it does their offense.
"We had three hits the whole night. I think Brady was OK. I think sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other team."
The Razorbacks held Florida (48-21) to three hits. Both runs came against Campbell with two outs in the fifth inning. Brady Smith's RBI single put the Gators on the board and Smith later scored from third base on a Campbell wild pitch to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Dominic Fletcher hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to give Arkansas a 4-0 lead. It was Fletcher's 10th home run of the season and second at the College World Series. The Razorbacks have hit a school-record 98 homers this season, including 14 in the NCAA Tournament.
Arkansas enters the championship series with an 8-1 postseason record. The Razorbacks have outscored their postseason opponents by a combined score of 85-33, including 23-11 in three games at the College World Series.