FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas and NC State took the field Sunday evening for the final game of the season at Baum-Walker Stadium. The winner to Omaha, the loser, home for good.
Kevin Kopps, the best relief pitcher in the country, got the start for the first time all season. He struck out the first batter, but allowed to baserunners, getting up to 20 pitches before ending the inning scoreless.
In the bottom of the second, the man of the moment, Charlie Welch, struck again. After Christian Franklin reached on an error, Welch ripped a double down the right field line, 1-0 Hogs. The Hogs loaded the bases with two outs, but Matt Goodheart grounded out to end the threat.
In the top of the third, a two-run homer put NC State on top. In the fourth, Arkansas got two aboard with two outs for Goodheart again, but he struck out.
Same story, inning after inning, as Kevin Kopps spun a gem, striking out 8 through the seventh, but the Arkansas offense was unable to give him any support. Until, that is, the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, Cayden Wallace tied the game with one swing of the bat, depositing a ball into the Hog pen.
Kopps ended the eighth with a strikeout and his highest pitch count of the season. Arkansas couldn't do anything offensively, and Kopps cam back out for the ninth. On his 118th pitch, he gave up the go ahead home run, and left the mound at Baum-Walker Stadium for the final time.