Arkansas upsets North Carolina 4-1 in super regional opener

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Peyton Stoval sparked a three-run fifth inning with a lead-off home run, Connor Noland threw 6 2/3 shutout innings and Arkansas upset No. 10 overall seed North Carolina 4-1 in the first round of the Chapel Hill Super Regional on Saturday.

Arkansas (42-19) and North Carolina (42-21), both making a 10th super regional appearance, will play again on Sunday. A win by the Razorbacks would send them to their 11th College World Series in search of their first title. A win by the Tar Heels would force a winner-take-all game on Monday. The two schools are playing for the first time in 33 years.

The Razorbacks took the lead for good in the top of the fifth. Stoval hit the first pitch out to right-center field for his ninth home run of the season. Zack Gregory walked, Braydon Webb singled and both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch by UNC starter Max Carlson (4-3). Slavens singled to center to drive in Gregory and Evan Wallace followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Webb.

Gregory walked and scored on a single by Slavens in the seventh to make it 4-0. Vance Honeycutt drove in the lone run for the Tar Heels with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth.

Noland (4-2) yielded six hits and a walk, striking out six. Hagen Smith pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.

North Carolina has been to a super regional in three of the past four seasons. The Tar Heels have made 11 CWS appearances but never won it. They were the runner-up in 2006 and 2007. The Razorbacks have also never won the title have, finishing second in 1979 and 2018. The only other time UNC and Arkansas played was in the 1989 CWS — a 7-3 win by the Razorbacks.

The Razorbacks are the only team with four straight super regional berths. Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn has led the Hogs to 18 postseason appearances in his 20 seasons at the helm. Nine super regional berths have come under Van Horn.