FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is one win away from returning to the College World Series.
The top-ranked Razorbacks hammered No. 17 North Carolina State 21-2 on Friday at Baum-Walker Stadium in the first game of the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional. The 21 runs were Arkansas’ most in an NCAA postseason game, and the Razorbacks’ 19-run margin of victory was also a program postseason record.
The teams are scheduled to play again Saturday at 2 p.m. If Arkansas wins Saturday, it will advance to the College World Series for the third consecutive postseason. If NC State wins, the Wolfpack will force a winner-take-all game Sunday evening.
Robert Moore hit two home runs, and Cullen Smith and Charlie Welch also homered to bring the Razorbacks’ season total to 106. All four homers scored multiple runs and helped Arkansas quickly overcome an early 1-0 deficit.
The Razorbacks (50-11) won for the 12th time in 13 games and improved to 30-6 at home.
Smith had the game’s biggest swing — a two-out grand slam in the third inning to give Arkansas a 7-1 lead. It was Smith’s 11th home run and fifth in postseason play. Smith hit three home runs at the SEC Tournament two weeks ago and homered during last week’s regional opener against NJIT.
Moore hit his first home run in the second inning to give Arkansas a 2-1 lead. Moore’s homer to right-center field also scored Welch, who doubled in the previous at bat.
The Razorbacks extended their lead to 3-1 in the third when Casey Opitz singled with two outs, stole second base and scored on Jalen Battles’ RBI double.
Arkansas’ first seven runs came against NC State starter Reid Johnston (8-3). The fourth-year junior right hander allowed 6 hits, walked 1 and struck out 5 in 3 innings.
Garrett Payne allowed three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Welch hit an opposite-field home run into the right-field bullpen to put the Razorbacks ahead 9-1, and Moore doubled and scored on a two-out Opitz RBI single.
Moore went 4 for 5 with 5 runs and 5 RBI, and Welch each went 3 for 4 with 4 runs and 4 RBI. Each player finished a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Arkansas put the game well out of reach when it brought 12 batters to the plate during a six-run sixth inning against NC State relievers John Miralia and Coby Ingle.
Brady Slavens had a two-run double and scored on a single by Welch. It was Slavens’ first hit in three games since returning from a sprained ankle that forced him to miss five games.
Opitz, Braydon Webb and Matt Goodheart all walked with the bases loaded in the sixth.
Welch added a bases-loaded walk to begin a five-run rally with two outs in the eighth inning. Zack Gregory scored on a wild pitch by NC State pitcher Cooper King, and Moore followed with a three-run home run to left to bring his team-leading season total to 16 homers.
NC State pitching issued eight walks and hit three batters.
Arkansas starter Patrick Wicklander was pulled after 99 pitches in six innings. Wicklander (7-1) allowed 1 run, 6 hits, 2 walks and struck out 6.
Heston Tole walked one and did not allow a hit in two scoreless innings. Kole Ramage allowed one run in the ninth.
NC State (33-18) took a 1-0 lead when Jose Torres homered to lead off the top of the second inning. The Wolfpack had a chance to grow their lead after a pair of walks with no outs, but stranded runners at second and third base following good defensive plays by Webb in center field and Moore at second.
Webb, who was playing in place of Christian Franklin (illness), ran down a fly ball in shallow left field, which held NC State catcher Luca Tresh at third. Moore made a diving stop on a ground ball and threw out leadoff hitter Austin Murr at first base to end the inning.
The Wolfpack squandered another run scoring chance when two-hole hitter Tyler McDonough flied out to center field with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. NC State stranded eight base runners. Arkansas stranded seven.
The Razorbacks out-hit the Wolfpack 17-7. Nine of Arkansas’ hits came with runners in scoring position.
Murr’s two-out RBI triple in the top of the ninth was NC State’s first since the fourth inning.
Arkansas 21 NC State 2 - FINAL
Kole Ramage in to pitch for Arkansas.
Tole - 2.0IP, 0H, 0R, 1BB, 4K, 30 pitches
Dylan Leach is in to catch for Arkansas.
Noah Soles pinch hits, and he strikes out looking on a full count.
Giles pinch hits and he hits a check swing grounder to Ramage who fields and throws him out.
Eddie Eisert is the third pinch hitter of the inning. Ramage walks him.
Murr triples off the left field wall to score a run.
Ramage strikes out McDonough swinging to end the game.
Arkansas 21 NC State 1 - End 8th
Battles leads things off with a double down the left field line.
Webb strikes out swinging. Gregory is hit with a pitch.
Wallace strikes out swinging for out number two.
Nesbit draws a walk and the bases are loaded for Welch.
Before Welch can bat the Wolfpack will go to the bullpen.
Cooper King will be on the bump.
Sipple - 1.2IP, 1H, 0R 0Er, 1BB, 4K, 36 pitches.
Welch walks on four pitches and a wild pitch to Moore scores Wallace.
Batting from the left side Moore goes opposite field and just sneaks a ball over the left field fence to give the Hogs 21 runs.
Smith pops up to the catcher behind home plate for the third out.
Arkansas 16 NC State 1 - Middle 8th
Heston Tole shutting down NC State. He picks up two strikeouts and a flyout to left to end the eighth inning.
Arkansas 16 NC State 1 - End 7th
Slavens is hit by a pitch, and Welch walks to bring up Moore with nobody out. Nesbit pinch runs for Slavens.
Wolfpack go the pen again, Tristan Sipple is the sixth pitcher for NC State today.
Tillery - 0.1IP, 0H, 0R, 3BB, 0K, 19 pitches
Moore grounds to the third baseman who gets Welch at second, but they can't complete the turn as Moore is safe at first.
Smith swings and misses at a fastball out of the zone for the second out.
Opitz strikes out on a breaking ball to end the inning.
Arkansas 16 NC State 1 - Middle 7th
Wicklander's day is done and Heston Tole comes in to pitch for Arkansas.
Wicklander - 6.0IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 6K, 99 pitches
Wicklander went first pitch strikes to 18/26 batters.
Tole gets a strikeout and a groundout to Slavens to start the inning. He walks the next batter, but gets Butler to strikeout looking on three pitches.
Arkansas 16 NC State 1 - End 6th
Webb pops out foul to the first baseman for the first out.
John Miralia is coming out of the pen for the Wolfpack. This is Miralia's fourth appearance of the year.
Payne - 2.1IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, 3K, 34 pitches
Goodheart singles off the shortstops glove and then Wallace lines one to left field that is just out of the reach of the diving left fielder. Goodheart moves to third and Wallace trots into second.
Slavens picks up two RBI with a double down the right field line. He's been hobbling since his injury, but he moved pretty good there.
NC State goes to the pen again.
Coby Ingle makes his 11th appearance of the year.
Miralia - 0.0IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 0K, 14 pitches. Slavens is his responsibility.
The Wolfpack shift against Welch and he just squeak a ball by on the right side. Slavens scores to extend Arkansas' lead to 13-1.
Moore singles to left and Smith singles to right to load the bases for Casey Opitz.
Opitz walks and the Hogs lead 14-1.
Battles pops out foul to the third baseman, and NC State will go to the bullpen for the third time.
Ingle - 0.1IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 0K, 18 pitches
Andrew Tillery in to pitch for NC State.
Webb walks on four pitches to score another run.
Arkansas 10 NC State 1 - Middle 6th
Luca Tresh popped up to first base to open the inning, then Patrick Wicklander froze Devonte Brown with two of the better breaking balls he's thrown today. He went down looking for the second out, then Vojtech Mensik grounded out to Brady Slavens at first.
Wicklander has been efficient the last two innings, throwing 26 pitches - 13 in both. He sits at 98 pitches through six innings and received a nice ovation as he walked off the field just now.
Arkansas will send the top of its order to the plate in the home half.
Goodheart walks to score another run. Gregory will come into run for Goodheart.
Wallace flies out to right to end the inning.
Arkansas 10 NC State 1 - End 5th
Wallace works a full count walk to start the fifth.
Slavens with a hard hit ground ball that gets by the first baseman, but the second baseman is there to field it and throw him out. Wallace advances to second.
Welch goes opposite field with a homerun into the NC State bullpen in right field to put the Hogs up 9-1.
Moore follows with a double to the left-center field gap.
Smith puts a charge in one, but it's caught on the warning track in center field. Moore tags and goes to third.
NC State shifts on Opitz, who is hitting from the left side, and he hits it right where the shortstop would have been. Moore scores and the Hogs have hit double digits.
Battles grounds out to third to end the inning.
Arkansas 7 NC State 1 - Middle 5th
Wicklander works his first 1-2-3 inning.
Butler popped out foul to Opitz.
Wicklander then gets a strikeout looking, and a pop out to the area in right field that is between second, first and the left fielder, but Moore calls everybody off and makes the catch.
Arkansas 7 NC State 1 - End 4th
Garrett Payne is in to pitch for NC State.
Johnston - 3.0IP, 6H, 7R, 7ER, 1Bb, 5K, 76 pitches
Battles strikes out looking on three pitches to start the inning.
Payne strikes out the side in order as Webb and Goodheart go down as well.
Arkansas 7 NC State 1 - Middle 4th
Tresh singles right between Smith and Battles to start the fourth.
Brown flies out to center for the first out.
A high fly ball to right-center field is caught by Webb just in front of the warning track.
Jarrett hits a bloop single to left field to give NC State two aboard with two outs.
Murr hits a dribbler between the pitcher and first. Wicklander and Slavens go for the ground ball. Wicklander fields it, but he doesn't have anybody to throw to so the Wolfpack have bases loaded with two outs.
Webb catches McDonough's fly ball on the warning track in center field to end the inning.
Arkansas 7 NC State 1 - End 3rd
Goodheart starts off the third with a single to right field. NC State had the shift on, but he just hit it over the shift.
Wallace is hit by a pitch to give the Hogs two aboard. Slavens pops up to short right for the first out.
Johnston gets Welch swinging on a breaking ball for the second out.
Moore walks to load the bases for Cullen Smith.
Smith hits a grand slam off the scoreboard and the Hogs are up 7-1.
Opitz grounds out to the second baseman who was playing deep in the hole because of the shift. Hogs put up a four spot in the third to extend their lead.
Arkansas 3 NC State 1 - Middle 3rd
Wicklander strikes out the first batter and gets a groundout up the middle. The play was reviewed, but Slavens got his foot back on the bag for the out.
Tatum singles to center, but Wicklander gets Torres to strikeout to end the inning.
Arkansas 3 NC State 1 - End 2nd
Slavens strikes out swinging to start the inning.
Welch comes through again. He doubles down the left field line to give the Hogs their first base runner and hit.
Moore follows with a homerun off the scoreboard in right center to give the Hogs the lead.
Smith strikes out swinging. Opitz grounds up the middle, the shortstop slides, but can't handle the ball cleanly and Opitz is aboard with a hit. Opitz steals second for his sixth steal in six attempts this year.
Battles doubles down the left field line and that steal is huge as Opitz comes in to score.
Webb grounds out to short to end the inning.
NC State 1 Arkansas 0 - Middle 2nd
A creature that resembles a beaver just ran across the field in between innings here at Baum-Walker.
The next batter Torres homers to left field to put the Wolfpack up 1-0. That was a no doubter from Torres.
Wicklander walks the next batter on seven pitches.
Wicklander walks the another batter on seven pitches and NC State has two on with nobody out.
Mensik bunts and moves up both runners. Smith throws him out at first.
A short pop up into left-center field is caught by Webb. He comes up throwing and keeps the runner on third base.
Moore with a diving stop to his left. He comes up and throws the runner out to limit the damage.
Arkansas 0 NC State 0 - End 1st
Webb strikes out swinging to start the inning.
Goodheart grounds out and Wallace strikes out on three pitches to end the inning.
Arkansas 0 NC State 0 - Middle 1st
Wicklander strikes out Murr on seven pitches to start the game.
McDonough doubles down the left field line to give the Wolfpack their first hit and baserunner of the game. That ball just squeaked inside the third base bag.
Butler grounds out to Moore, McDonough advances to third.
Wicklander gets Tatum swinging on a high fastball to end the inning.
1B Austin Murr
CF Tyler McDonough
LF Jonny Butler
DH Terrell Tatum
SS Jose Torres
C Luca Tresh
RF Devonte Brown
3B Vojtech Mensik
2B J.T. Jarrett
P Reid Johnston
CF Braydon Webb
RF Matt Goodheart
LF Cayden Wallace
1B Brady Slavens
DH Charlie Welch
2B Robert Moore
3B Cullen Smith
C Casey Opitz
SS Jalen Battles
P Patrick Wicklander
Neither team will be eliminated with a loss Friday. The winner of Friday’s game will move within one victory of advancing to the College World Series, while the loser Friday must win two straight games to avoid being eliminated….Arkansas advanced to the super regionals by going 3-1 in a home regional against NJIT and Nebraska….NC State won the Ruston (La.) Regional with a 3-0 record against Alabama and No. 16 overall seed Louisiana Tech….The Wolfpack went 19-14 in ACC play after a 1-8 start. NC State finished second in the ACC regular-season standings and was runner-up at the ACC Tournament....The super regional will be the first on-field meeting between North Carolina State coach Elliott Avent and Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, who rank sixth and seventh, respectively, in wins among active college coaches….Van Horn is the active leader in College World Series appearances by a coach with eight. Van Horn has led Arkansas to the College World Series six times and took Nebraska twice….Avent coached NC State to the College World Series in 2013, which was the program's first appearance there in 45 years….Arkansas is looking to advance to its 11th College World Series and third straight. The Razorbacks went to Omaha in 2018 and 2019. No tournament was played last year….Arkansas relief pitcher Zebulon Vermillion will return to the 27-man roster this week. Vermillion was held out of the regional with arm soreness….Arkansas first baseman Brady Slavens is about 80% of full health, Van Horn said. Slavens returned to action last Sunday after a sprained ankle forced him to miss five games….NC State designated hitter Terrell Tatum is the son of former Arkansas running back Terrance Tatum, who played for the Razorbacks from 1982-85. Terrell Tatum’s older brother, Terry, was a redshirt baseball player at Arkansas in 2013….Arkansas is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Razorbacks are attempting to become the first top seed to win the national championship since Miami in 1999….Top overall seeds have advanced to the College World Series 14 times since 1999. Three lost in a home regional and three lost in a home super regional….Arkansas is 29-6 at Baum-Walker Stadium this season. The Razorbacks have a 137-27 record at home since the start of the 2017 season….NC State is 19-3 in road games this season, including two games at Louisiana Tech last week....Arkansas is hosting a super regional for the fifth time