Author: Matt Jones

Matt Jones Twitter account

Published: Saturday 18 June 2022

OMAHA, Nebraska. Before blowing out the candles on the birthday cake, 24-year-old Chris Lanzilli blew the first opening of the Arkansas College World Series on Saturday.

Lanzilli’s three-run home run against Stanford starter Alex Williams kicked off a five-run fifth inning and the Razorbacks never looked back in a 17-2 win over the Cardinal at Schwab Field.

“I give them credit because Lanzilli’s home run was the biggest move in the game,” Stanford coach David Esker said.

Lanzilli’s 389-foot home run to left field after replacing Williams 1-1 gave Arkansas a 4-1 lead. It gave the Razorbacks an exciting boost after Arkansas was stuck in six base runners over the first four innings: the bases were loaded in the first, one runner in the second, and two runners in the third.

“We needed a big hit,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “We left a few guys; a bit frustrating, but we didn’t talk about it.”

Brady Slavens and Caden Wallace had straight singles to start the fifth inning. It set the table for Lanzilli after Michael Turner struck out.

Lanzilli, who was hit by a pitch in the first inning and bounced in the third, kicked the ball squarely in the teeth of a southerly wind that was speeding up to 13 mph early in the game. The wind seemed to blow away some of the other potential home runs.

“On a typical day, I thought it was out, but you can’t tell,” Van Horn said of Homer Lanzilli. “When this thing made its way into the stands, it was a big relief. Big hits followed.”

Robert Moore was selected at-bat after Lanzilli to send Stanford to the bullpen. Moore later hit from third base on a wild field and Zach Gregory added a two-out RBI single to give Arkansas a 6–1 lead in the middle of the game.

Lanzilli also singled and scored during the Razorbacks’ ninth inning with six runs. At one point, when he was playing on the right pitch, fans serenaded Lanzilli with the song “Happy Birthday”.

More than 1,400 miles from Boston, Lanzilli’s mother tweeted a photo of herself and several others gathered to watch a game, a moment they might not have imagined on his 23rd birthday a year earlier. Lanzilli was then unsure of his next move after four seasons at Wake Forest.

He announced he would move to Arkansas last July, due in part to his relationship with pitching coach Matt Hobbs, who was hired from Wake Forest after Lanzilli’s first season.

“We knew what we were getting, for the most part, in terms of makeup,” Van Horn said of Lanzilli and Hobbs’ relationship.

Saturday’s home run was Lanzilli’s 51st of his career and ninth in Arkansas, but one of his most memorable.

“I came here to play on this stage,” Lanzilli said. “Doing something like this is cool, but winning the game is even better. I just want it to continue.”

He didn’t plan on celebrating his birthday for too long or running home.

“I will definitely rest,” Lanzilli said after the game. “I think that’s what Coach Van Horn wants to do.”

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