FAYETTEVILLE – It took less than 24 hours for the mood to sour at Baum Stadium. Consecutive record-setting crowds’ attitudes turned on a dime. "One game away from the College World Series!" turned into "One win away from the College World Series. Please."

FAYETTEVILLE – It took less than 24 hours for the mood to sour at Baum Stadium. Consecutive record-setting crowds’ attitudes turned on a dime. "One game away from the College World Series!" turned into "One win away from the College World Series. Please."


An 18-run, 18-hit win followed by a 1-run, 1-hit loss does that.


As much as the 12,167 fans were clamoring to heckle and pile on Missouri State left-hander Matt Hall, they simply never had a chance. The nation’s leader in strikeouts left Arkansas hitters guessing for nine innings in the Bears’ 3-1 win in the Fayetteville Super Regional on Saturday.


Missouri State and Arkansas play a winner-take-all Game Three on Sunday at 2 p.m. The victor goes to Omaha, Nebraska for next week’s College World Series.


A weird season deserves such circumstances, so there’s no sense in sweating it now, Dave Van Horn figured.


"Just go to play," the Arkansas coach said. "That’s what I told them. ‘Let’s play tomorrow. If we win, we keep playing. If we don’t, we don’t.’ I’m proud of this team. They have battled and I don’t want them to feel any pressure. I want them to enjoy it."


There were zero good times Saturday.


Hall had ruffled local feathers earlier in the week when he said he wasn’t intimidated in the least playing in a packed Baum. Fans hassled him more after a demonstrative exchange between Hall and Arkansas All-American Andrew Benintendi upon an inning-ending strikeout in the fourth.


But no steam was ever built. Hall wouldn’t have any of it. And he completed his defiance with a glove toss straight into the air after recording the final out. He did, as the phrase goes, back it up. The second batter of the game – Bobby Wernes – knocked the only hit of the game. Hall, at one point, retired 16 straight Razorbacks while his team built a three-run lead. Arkansas’ only run came after an error on the day’s only hard-hit ball.


Hall and Matt Fultz, spoke after the game. The nation’s leader in strikeouts was loath to supply any more material when asked about the day’s histrionics. His catcher, and teammate since tee-ball, betrayed him.


"Yeah, (Benintendi) had some words to say to the umpire. (Hall) was throwing some great pitches and left-on-left like that, being a left-hander myself, I know it’s not fun when lefties paint pitches low and away," Fultz said. "Basically all their hitters weren’t too happy with how well he was throwing. But that’s just how he is."


It looked like either the emotions, the heat or the fatigue began to wear on Hall in the final three innings. He started each with a lead-off walk, never getting any starting batter to two strikes, even. Joe Serrano began the seventh with a base-on-balls and Benintendi, one plate appearance after his swing-and-miss, followed with another – and an emphatic bat flip back to the dugout. Clark Eagan’s sharp grounder to shortstop made it through Joey Hawkins and Serrano scored. But the consecutive walks bookended a groundout, Benintendi’s and Eagan’s came around a flyout and Rick Nomura’s grounder to third base ended the inning.


Even with the walks Arkansas never had another runner in scoring position.


"Every inning we thought we were going to get to him and he did a real good job of not letting that happen," Wernes said. "We really didn’t get anything going all day offensively and bottom of the ninth we still had the chance to tie the game with one swing of the bat."


Jackson Lowery had limited the Bears offense after a horrific start from Keaton McKinney. Arkansas’ freshman right-hander lasted just 1 1/3 innings, giving up three hits and three walks. Thanks to Lowery, McKinney’s line had only one earned run tagged on to it and six innings later the Bears had barely reached those same totals combined.


Missouri State started the second with a walk and two singles to score first. A sacrifice bunt and another walk ended McKinney’s day and Lowery induced a double play to get out of the jam. Lowery gave up two more runs on three hits in the third inning before keeping the Bears scoreless and with just one hit the rest of the afternoon.


There was simply no solving Hall on the other side. He seemed to enjoy every encounter with both Razorbacks hitters and fans. He claimed to have limited adrenaline before reneging. It was clear his fiery temperament helped given the stakes. Besides, he had his three most important things Saturday, his coach said.


"He really thrives on having fun. And he likes challenges. And he likes hot weather. And he likes wearing his camo jersey," Keith Guttin said. "He’s not real complicated. When he gets hot weather and a camo jersey, he’s pretty good."


Hall tied a Missouri Valley Conference record with 166 single-season strikeouts when he caught Brett McAfee looking at a pitch to start the third inning. He broke it two batters later when Tucker Pennell obliged him with the same stare.


He wasn’t pitching especially hard, hitting 90 miles-per-hour fewer than 10 times in his 125 pitches. But compared to McKinney’s lack of velocity and command and Lowery’s getting by on guts, Hall looked especially dominant. His final line was the one hit, one run – unearned, four walks and eight strikeouts.


There was never a chance Guttin was going to yank him.


"I mean, coming in after the eighth, (pitching) coach (Paul) Evans goes ‘This is your game, go take it,’" Hall said. "And I just, I wanted to go out there and give my team a chance to win."


Sunday is the final game at Baum Stadium in 2015 no matter what. But almost three weeks after everyone thought the finale there had already been played Van Horn will take it. Every pitcher, save Lowery and probably Friday’s starter Trey Killian, will be on alert. James Teague is likely to get the opening call.


Just one more game. Just one more win.


"What do you say?" Van Horn said. "Two months ago if you’d give me one game to go to the Series, I’d have taken it in a heartbeat. Just go play."