Arkansas routs 2nd-seeded Stanford 17-2 in CWS opener
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Connor Noland allowed one run over 7 2/3 efficient innings, Chris Lanzilli hit a tiebreaking three-run homer and Arkansas beat No. 2 national seed Stanford 17-2 on Saturday in the most-lopsided College World Series game in 34 years.
The Razorbacks knocked out Pac-12 pitcher of the year Alex Williams in the fifth inning and went on to log their biggest margin of victory in 36 CWS games. It was Stanford’s biggest loss in their 73 CWS games.
“I thought we played just a fantastic game,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “Started on the mound with pitching. Outstanding. A lot of strikes. Defense behind him was outstanding as well. And offensively swung the bat extremely well up and down the lineup. Got production 1 through 9.”
The Razorbacks (44-19) will play Monday against Mississippi, a 5-1 winner over Auburn in the night game. Stanford (47-17) will face Auburn in an 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 the ninth.
“That’s not what you want the country to see. We haven’t been that team,” Stanford coach David Esquer said. “You can’t let (the players) worry about that or feel like that’s their defining moment of the season. It’s just one of those that you’ve got 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 turned double plays to get him out of two jams, Stanford didn’t score again until Carter Graham greeted reliever Kole Ramage with a base hit in the eighth.
Noland threw only 79 pitches on a hot, humid afternoon when the feels-like temperature reached 106 degrees. He induced 11 groundball outs and seven flyouts, and his only strikeout came in the sixth inning. Other than Jones’ homer, all the Cardinal mustered against him were five singles and a walk.
“I knew they were going to swing the bat. They’re an aggressive team, they like to put the ball in play,” Noland said. “We had the wind blowing in. I get a lot of ground balls normally. I just stuck to the plan. I let the defense work behind me.”
Razorbacks fans rose and gave Noland an ovation, many of them “Calling the Hogs,” as he hugged teammates and walked from the mound to the dugout.
“Our offense did a good job of putting the ball in play and testing their defense,” Jones said. “They had 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 up a triple to Braydon Webb on the game’s first pitch, hit a batter and issued a walk but got out of the inning down only 1-0.
Williams settled down the next three innings, then gave up back-to-back singles in the fifth before Lanzilli hammered a changeup a dozen rows into the left-center seats to make it 4-1.
“To play on this stage is really why I came here,” said Lanzilli, who transferred from Wake Forest. “And to do something like that is awesome, and to win the game is even better. I just want to keep it rolling.”
When Robert Moore followed with a base hit, the day was over for Williams, who has allowed 16 runs in his last 10 1/3 innings (13.94 ERA).
The Razorbacks, who managed only three hits in a 5-0 loss to Stanford in February, went on to hand the Cardinal the worst loss in a CWS since Arizona State hammered Wichita State 19-1 in 1988.
It was Arkansas’ first win over the Cardinal since the 1985 CWS.
“Today’s score got out of hand,” Van Horn said. “And I think coach Esquer was — he didn’t want to say it — but he threw some guys they wouldn’t normally pitch. Those last three innings we scored 10, 11 runs. You can take those off the board a little bit. He’s trying to get through this where we may play again.”
Stanford is in a familiar position after having to win three elimination games in regionals and two in super regionals to advance.
“We’ve been playing with our backs up against the wall for some time now,” Esquer said. “Seems like we’ve played our best when that’s the case.”
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