FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - A devastating end to an incredible journey.
In what was likely his final appearance at Baum-Walker Stadium, Kevin Kopps left his heart on the mound in front of the Arkansas faithful.
The best player in college baseball started for the first time this year and struck out nine in eight innings of work, but he could not single-handedly carry the Hogs to Omaha as Arkansas' historic season came to a heartbreaking end with a 3-2 loss on Sunday night in the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional.
The Razorbacks went ahead early with on Charlie Welch's RBI double in the bottom of the second, but the Wolfpack struck back in the following inning with a two-run homer. NC State held on to its one-run lead until the bottom of the seventh when Cayden Wallace launched his 14th home run of the year to tie the ballgame at two.
Kopps was sent back out in the top of the ninth and allowed a leadoff homer, which turned out to be the game's decisive run. The right-hander exited to a thunderous ovation from the crowd as Patrick Wicklander entered from the bullpen to get the final three outs of the inning.
The Hogs went down in order in the bottom of the ninth to end the game - and season.
Kopps wrapped up his legendary season with a program-record 0.90 ERA in 89.2 innings pitched (33 appearances with one start). His 131 strikeouts on the year rank third most in Arkansas single-season history, while his 12 wins and 11 saves rank fourth and sixth, respectively, in the school record book.
Arkansas finished the 2021 campaign with a 50-13 overall record, the most wins by a Razorback team during the Dave Van Horn era. The Hogs' dream season included countless records, which were all topped off with both an SEC regular-season and tournament championship.