Thursday's College World Series slate features just one elimination game as Arkansas and Ole Miss battle for the right to play Oklahoma in the final.
The Sooners punched their ticket with a 5-1 victory over Texas A&M in Wednesday's first bracket matchup. Ole Miss had a chance to do the same with a win but couldn't generate enough offense.
Hagen Smith pitched five solid innings for Arkansas, allowing one run and striking out eight. He was backed by home runs from Chris Lanzilli and Brady Slavens, with the latter's dinger setting a distance record for the College World Series.
The Razorbacks added another run in the eighth inning to take a 3-1 lead. The Rebels nearly stole the game, however, scoring one run in the bottom of the ninth and loading the bases with two outs. Jacob Gonzalez couldn't get the clutch hit and flied out to left, allowing Arkansas to hold on for the 3-2 win and set up Thursday's do-or-die contest.
Prospects to Watch Thursday
Arkansas: Cayden Wallace, 3B; Robert Moore, 2B
Ole Miss: RHP Dylan DeLucia, C Hayden Dunhurst
The Rebels aren't taking any chances on Thursday, sending out staff ace Dylan DeLucia on four days' rest to battle Arkansas starter Connor Noland, per KATV's Steve Sullivan.
With a low 90s fastball and a wicked curveball, DeLucia has flashed excellent stuff all season but has really stepped up in the big moments. His first showing in Omaha was a gem, allowing one run and four hits over 7.2 innings in the Rebels' 5-1 victory over Auburn on Saturday.
DeLucia also has proved he can handle the Razorbacks lineup. He gave up two runs in seven innings while striking out nine batters in a 4-2 victory on April 29. It was the only win of the series for Ole Miss. They'll be looking for a similar performance on Thursday.
The two MLB prospects hoping to spoil DeLucia's day are third baseman Cayden Wallace and second baseman Robert Moore, ranked 37th and 96th, respectively, in MLB.com's 2022 class. Wallace did well in Arkansas' 17-2 rout of Stanford on Saturday, hitting a home run and notching three RBI. He then had two quiet games but fared better on Wednesday, going 2-for-5 with a run scored.
Moore has been a major source of offense for the Razorbacks in Omaha, with two RBI and six runs scored across four games.
Another hitting prospect to keep an eye on Thursday is Ole Miss catcher Hayden Dunhurst, ranked No. 152 by MLB.com. As DeLucia's battery mate, his guidance from the behind home plate will be critical to helping his ace get through a tough Razorbacks lineup. He's also due for a turnaround in the batter's box after going 0-for-9 with a run, an RBI and three walks in three games so far in Omaha.
Thursday's contest is set up to be another nail-biter with both teams trotting out talented pitchers and a place in the weekend championship series on the line. Look for the Rebels to make up for Wednesday's missed opportunities at the plate and get the win over Arkansas.
Pick: Ole Miss 4, Arkansas 3