Arkansas rout second-seeded Stanford in College World Series opener

OMAHA, Neb. >> Connor Noland allowed a run in 7 2/3 effective innings, Chris Lanzilli hit a game-tying three-run homer and Arkansas beat second national seed Stanford 17-2 today in the most lopsided College World Series in 34 years.

The Razorbacks knocked out Pac-12 pitcher of the year Alex Williams in the fifth inning and then posted their biggest winning margin in 36 CWS games. It was Stanford’s biggest loss in 73 games with the CWS.

“I think we played a fantastic game,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “I started on the mound with some pitching. Exceptional. Lots of strikes. The defense behind him was also outstanding. And offensively swung the bat extremely well up and down the range. I have production 1 to 9.”

The Razorbacks (44-19) will face the winner of tonight’s game between Auburn and Mississippi on Monday. Stanford (47-17) will play the loser in a knockout game.

Arkansas scored 11 runs over the last three innings and finished with a season-high 21 hits, including Cayden Wallace’s 30th career home run in ninth.

“This is not what you want the country to see. We haven’t been that team,” Stanford coach David Esquer said. “You can’t let (players) worry about that or feel like it’s their defining moment of the season. It’s just one of those you have to dump.

Noland (8-5) gave up a home run to Stanford first-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 scored more until Carter Graham saluted the reliever. Kole Ramage with a hit in the eighth.

Noland threw just 79 pitches on a hot, humid afternoon when the temperature felt like 106 degrees. He had 11 strikeouts and seven steals, and his lone strikeout came in the sixth inning. Other than Jones’ home run, all the Cardinal mustered against him was 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,” said Noland. “We had the wind blowing. I normally get a lot of ground balls. I just stuck to the plan. I let the defense work behind me.

Razorbacks fans stood and gave Noland a standing ovation, many “Calling the Hogs”, as he hugged his teammates and walked from the mound to the dugout.

“Our offense did a good job putting the ball in play and testing their defense,” Jones said. “They had a very good defense today, and he was able to beat the area.”

Williams (8-4) struggled for a third straight start in the NCAA Tournament. He allowed a triple to Braydon Webb on the first pitch of the game, hit a batter and walked, but only went 1-0 out of the inning.

Williams settled the next three innings, then gave up back-to-back singles in the fifth before Lanzilli made a change of a dozen rows in the center left seats to make it 4-1.

“Playing on this stage is really why I came here,” said Lanzilli, who transferred from Wake Forest. “And to do something like that is great, and to win the game is even better. I just want it to continue.

When Robert Moore followed up with a hit, the day was over for Williams, who allowed 16 runs in his final 10 1/3 innings (13.94 ERA).

The Razorbacks, who had just three hits in a 5-0 loss to Stanford in February, then handed the Cardinal the worst loss in a CWS since Arizona State beat State. of Wichita 19-1 in 1988.

It was Arkansas’ first win over the Cardinal since the 1985 CWS.

“Today’s score got out of control,” Van Horn said. “And I think Coach Esquer was – he wouldn’t say it – but he threw guys that they wouldn’t normally throw. These last three innings we’ve gotten 10, 11 runs. You can take them off a bit of the board. He’s trying to get through that where we could play again.

Stanford is in a familiar position after having to win three playoff games in regionals and two in super regionals to qualify.

“We’ve been playing back against the wall for a while now,” Esquer said. “It looks like we played our best when that’s the case.”

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