Fayetteville, Ark. — The Arkansas Razorbacks overcame two early deficits to claim a 7-5 victory over Florida State in the first game of the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional Friday afternoon in front of the largest crowd to ever witness a game at Baum Stadium.
A record 9,338 fans crammed Baum Stadium to see the Hogs rally from a 3-2 deficit in the fourth inning and a 5-3 deficit in the fifth inning as the Razorbacks moved within one win of advancing to the College World Series.
“I thought this was a good college game,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “We would get a run and they would counter. Then they would get a run and we would counter. We finally put a big inning together and held them.”
Arkansas improved to 44-22 overall, while the Seminoles dropped to 45-22 with the loss.
Boyd Goodner (3-3) earned the win in relief as he pitched one and one-third innings allowing only one hit with two walks.
Jay Sawtski notched his sixth save of the season as he held the ‘Noles to three hits in three innings on the mound.
Rhett James (10-3) took the loss for Florida State after giving up six runs, three earned, on 10 hits in four and two-thirds innings of work.
Arkansas shortstop Scott Hode entered Friday’s game in a 2-for-38 slump, but broke out of that with a four-hit performance. Hode had four singles with an run batted in and one run scored.
“I did a lot of work this week in the batter’s box,” Hode said. “I just forgot about the slump and told myself I’m going to do it.”
The Hogs plated the first run of the game when Casey Rowlett hit a solo home run to left in the bottom of the first inning. It was Rowlett’s third home run of the season and first since April 9, against LSU.
The Seminoles countered with a run in the top of the second when Shane Robinson singled home Matt Sauls with a single to left field.
Clay Goodwin doubled with one out in the bottom of the third and scored on a single through the left side by Hode to regain the lead for Arkansas a 2-1.
Florida State took its first lead of the day at 3-2 in the top of the fourth inning. Ryne Malone singled and moved to third on Gibbs Chapman’s one-out single up the middle. Dennis Anderson plated Malone with a single to right that evened the game at 2-2.
Bryan Zech gave FSU the lead with a single through the right side of the infield that brought Chapman home.
The lead was short lived, however, as the Hogs tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on Brady Toops’ solo home run to left. It was Toops’ second home run of the postseason and fifth overall this season.
Chapman broke the tie in the top of the fifth with a double to right-center that scored Aaron Cheesman and Malone.
Goodner relieved starter Clint Brannon following the double and ended the inning when he forced Robinson to pop out to shortstop.
Trailing by two runs the Razorbacks responded once again in the bottom of the fifth inning. Hode single to left field. Following a fly out by Haas Pratt, Danny Hamblin doubled to right-center. Hode rounded third and scored when Cheesman dropped the relay throw at home plate.
After Toops was hit by a pitch, Devin Day singled up the middle to score Hamblin and tie the game at 5-5. Scott Bridges brought Toops home with a single to right that gave the Hogs a 6-5 lead.
With two outs in the sixth, Stephen Drew singled to right and then moved to second on a wild pitch by Goodner. Eddy Martinez-Esteves and Cheesman drew consecutive walks to load the bases.
Goodner escaped the inning when Chapman flied out to right to end the inning with the Razorbacks holding a one run lead.
Sawatski entered the game two pitches into the seventh inning and gave up a two-out single to Robinson and a walk to Anderson before retiring the ‘Noles on Zech’s fly ball to center.
Sawatski set the Seminoles down in the eighth inning, allowing only a two-out single to Cheesman.
Goodwin opened the bottom of the eighth with a double, his second of the game, and scored on a two-out RBI single by Hamblin that gave the Hogs a 7-5 lead.
In the ninth, Sawatski got Sauls to fly out to right for the first out and Chapman to ground to Day at second for out two. Robinson gave the ‘Noles hope with a double past Goodwin at third, but Sawatski put a halt to any potential rally by striking out pinch-hitter Daniel Wardell to end the game.
The teams continue the series Saturday at 7 p.m. The game will be televised live by ESPN2.