FAYETTEVILLE —Charlie Welch and Kevin Kopps became heroes as the Razorback Dynamic Duo led No. 1 Arkansas (49-10)’ to a 6-2 win over No. 19 Nebraska in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional title game Monday night at full-capacity Baum-Walker Stadium. The team will advance to the Super Regionals where it will host North Carolina State. The Super Regionals are set to begin Friday or Saturday at Baum-Walker.
The home team fans went Kapow! when bat man Welch pinch-hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. Then, Kopps completed seven innings of relief. The boy wonder struck out eight and allowed three hits after starter and true freshman Jaxon Wiggins needed rescued after working only two innings. He had given up two runs on one hit, but he did strike out two Cornhuskers in a valiant effort.
Arkansas was behind by two runs before Casey Opitz hit a leadoff solo home run of his own in the bottom of the fifth.
Robert Moore tied the game when with two outs in the sixth he connected with a pitch to right and sent it out of the park.
Kopps fine performance on the mound continued and allowed his teammates to take the lead in the eighth inning, which started with a bases-loaded wild pitch that sent Christian Franklin from third base (after working a walk with two outs ) to score the go-ahead run.
Then Welch did his thing. The pinch-hitter is now 8-for-12 in such opportunities this season. To recount the at bat, he sent a 2-0 fastball deep over the wall in left and extended the Hogs’ lead to 6-2.
Kopps completed the game, striking out two in the top of the ninth to earn his 12th win of the season. The Pitcher of the Year lowered his nation-best ERA to 0.68.