FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It took only four pitches for the Razorbacks to make history Saturday night.
Matt Goodheart's leadoff blast in the bottom of the first helped No. 1 Arkansas defeat No. 19 Nebraska, 5-1, at Baum-Walker Stadium to secure a 10th consecutive win and advance to the championship game of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional.
Goodheart's homer was Arkansas' 99th of the season in its 58th game of the year, surpassing the previous program record of 98 home runs by the 2018 Hog squad in 69 games.
Patrick Wicklander and Kevin Kopps were all the Razorbacks needed on the mound Saturday night. The duo limited the Cornhuskers to one run on five hits and two walks while striking out 13.
Wicklander earned the win and improved to 6-1, giving Arkansas five innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts before turning the game over to Kopps. The nation's most dominant pitcher looked every bit of it once again, striking out six in his second four-inning save of the season.
Kopps, who picked up his 11th victory of the year in yesterday's win against NJIT, now has 11 saves and a 0.74 ERA in 72.2 innings this season. He has tallied 112 strikeouts to only 15 walks.
Goodheart's two-hit day, including his leadoff homer, led the Hogs offensively. Braydon Webb's RBI single in the bottom of the second ultimately put Arkansas up for good before Cayden Wallace drove in one on a sacrifice fly to left later in the frame, extending the Razorback advantage to three.
Ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Arkansas scored twice more to put the game on ice. Christian Franklin drew a bases-loaded walk, and Wallace later scampered home on a passed ball.
The Hogs, now 48-10 overall on the year, will play the winner of tomorrow afternoon's ballgame between Nebraska and NJIT at 8 p.m. in Sunday's regional championship on ESPN3.
Hogs hit five homers to reach semis a day earlier
No. 1 Arkansas used the long ball to overcome an early three-run deficit and outslug NJIT, 13-8, in the first game of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional on Friday afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium. The Razorbacks rallied from a deficit of at least three runs for the 13th time this season, including for the eighth time at home.
Down three entering the bottom of the third, the Razorbacks scored two in the frame on Braydon Webb's dinger to left before exploding for seven more runs in the fourth. Christian Franklin's game-tying solo blast was one of three Arkansas home runs in the bottom of the fourth inning as Cayden Wallace and Cullen Smith also got in on the action.
The Hogs now have six with double-digit homer totals. The foursome of Christian Franklin, Robert Moore, Brady Slavens and Cayden Wallace are tied for the team lead with 13.
Jalen Battles, meanwhile, swatted the Hogs' fifth homer of the day in the fifth, extending Arkansas' advantage to 10-3 with his sixth home run of the year. Battles scored a team-high four runs in the game, while Wallace and Webb each drove in three in Arkansas’ 13-8 triumph.
Kevin Kopps, who entered the ballgame with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, twirled 2 1/3 perfect innings in relief to earn his 11th victory of the year. The Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Player of the Year struck out one along the way, silencing the Highlanders' offense across the game's middle innings.
Arkansas used seven pitchers, including Kopps, in the game as starter Caleb Bolden lasted 1 1/3 innings before giving way to the bullpen. Ryan Costeiu tossed 1 1/3 innings of scoreless ball out of the pen, striking out three in his appearance.