Hogs sink Commodores in final series opener
Arkansas takes early lead, cruises to win over Vanderbilt
From the University of Arkansas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – No.
2 Arkansas (39-13, 20-8 SEC) put up a four-spot in the top half of the first inning and never looked back, sinking No. 12 Vanderbilt (35-17, 17-11 SEC), 8-2, on Thursday night at Hawkins Field.
With the win, Arkansas moved one step closer to clinching an SEC regularseason championship. The Razorbacks can secure at least a share of the title tomorrow with a win against the Commodores or if Florida loses at Kentucky.
The Razorbacks also earned their 20th SEC win of the season on Thursday night. It marks just the fourth time that Arkansas has won 20 or more SEC games since 1992, the team’s first season competing in the SEC.
All nine Arkansas batters came to the plate in the top of the first inning as the Hogs tagged Commodore starter Patrick Reilly for four runs on one hit, four walks, one hit batsman and two errors in the frame. A pair of runs scored on a two-out error by Vanderbilt second baseman RJ Austin before Brady Slavens’ massive two-out, two-run shot to right.
Slavens’ blast, his ninth of the season and 39th of his Razorback career, gave Arkansas a comfortable 4-0 cushion in the first inning.
The ball traveled 398 feet and left Slavens’ bat at 105 miles per hour, clearing the right field wall in a hurry.
Caleb Cali’s two-out RBI single in the second extended Arkansas’ lead to 5-0. Peyton Holt’s two-out single in the fourth brought home two more runs as the Hogs took advantage of one of Vanderbilt’s four errors to open a 7-0 edge.
On the mound, starter Hagen Smith made the most of the early run support.
The left-hander, who improved to 8-1 with the win, spun five innings of two-run ball with seven strikeouts before turning the ball over to Will McEntire.
The veteran righty took over in the bottom of the sixth with a 7-2 lead to protect and did exactly that. McEntire struck out six over four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit in a dominant relief effort to earn his second save of the season.
Arkansas’ eighth and final run of the ballgame came via a two-out wild pitch in the top of the seventh, which allowed Holt to scamper home from third.
Six of the Razorbacks’ eight runs in Thursday night’s win were scored with two outs.
Holt finished with a teamleading three hits, recording his second three-hit game of the season. Cali and Slavens each drove in a team-leading two runs, while Jared Wegner played in his first game since April 14 and scored two runs.
Right-hander Brady Tygart will get the start on the mound tomorrow as the Hogs look to clinch both a series win as well as their fourth regular-season conference championship in history. First pitch is 7 p.m. Friday, May 19, on SEC Network.
Follow the Hogs
For complete coverage of Arkansas baseball, follow the Hogs on Twitter (@RazorbackBSB), Instagram (@RazorbackBSB) and Facebook (Arkansas Razorback Baseball).
Photo courtesy of the University of Arkansas