FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Seniors Randall Fant and Matt Vinson made their last regular season start at Baum Stadium a memorable one on Sunday as the two seniors led No. 14 Arkansas to a series-clinching 10-2 win over Tennessee at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks have now won seven of their nine Southeastern Conference series for the first time since the 1999 season. Arkansas is 34-17 overall and 17-9 in SEC play. With Arkansas’ win on Sunday and Ole Miss’ lost to Mississippi State, the Razorbacks have clinched a top four seed in the SEC Tournament and a first round bye. Tennessee is now 20-28 and 7-18 in SEC play after the loss.
Arkansas honored its six-member senior class of Trent Daniel, Randall Fant, Cade Lynch, Jacob Mahan, Matt Vinson and Tyler Wright before the game. The senior class has totaled 163 wins over the last four seasons, a trip to the College World Series, three NCAA Tournament appearances, two Super Regional appearances and an SEC Western Division title.
Fant (5-1) started on the mound for the Razorbacks and earned the win after striking out five and giving up just two hits in 3.1 innings. Daniel and Wright each appeared in the game out of the bullpen.
Jalen Beeks also worked a scoreless inning of relief out of the bullpen, retiring all three batters he faced.
Arkansas’ two seniors on offense also had a big day in their final regular season home game. Vinson led the Razorbacks with three hits, including his second homer of the season, and had two RBI with three runs scored. Jacob Mahan went 1-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored.
Brian Anderson wrapped up a big weekend at the plate with a pair of extra base hits, a double and a triple, and two RBI. The sophomore finished the series against the Volunteers going 7-for-13 with a double, two triples, a homer, five RBI and five runs scored.
Brett McAfee and Jake Wise each had a pair of hits, while Jordan Farris drove in a game-high four runs.
Tennessee starting pitcher Aaron Quillen (2-4) received the loss. Quillen worked just one inning and gave up five runs on five hits with two strikeouts.
David Houser and Zach Luther each had a hit and a RBI to lead Tennessee offensively. Will Maddox, Jeff Moberg, Scott Price and A.J. Simcox also contributed one hit each.
Arkansas wasted little time jumping on the Volunteer starter, scoring five runs in the bottom of the first. Joe Serrano started the home half of the first with a double and then scored on Vinson’s RBI single to center field. After the next two batters were retired, Vinson stole second and Tyler Spoon drew a walk to put runners on first and second. A base hit to left by Mahan plated Vinson for the second run of the inning. After an infield single by Wise loaded the bases, Farris landed the big blow of the inning with a bases-clearing, three-RBI double to left field, giving the Razorbacks a 5-0 lead.
The Razorbacks added another run in the third on a bases-loaded walk to Farris, his fourth RBI of the game.
Arkansas stretched the lead to 8-0 with two runs in the fourth, both coming on a two-RBI double by Anderson to the right-center field alley.
The Razorbacks brought home another run in the sixth on Vinson’s leadoff homer, his second round-tripper of the season, to make the score 9-0.
Tennessee avoided the shutout with a run in the top of the eighth as Houser singled into left field to score Simcox.
Arkansas answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the eighth on a sacrifice fly to left by Jacob Morris, scoring Anderson from third base.
The Volunteers closed the scoring with a run in the ninth as Luther had a pinch hit single to right-center field to score Christin Stewart. Tennessee was unable to get any closer as Arkansas recorded the 10-2 win to clinch the series.
Arkansas closes the regular season next weekend at Auburn. Game times for the final series of the regular season are set for 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday. The series finale will be televised on CST.
For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Alabama Scores Three in the Ninth to Down Mizzou
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Austen Smith was the ninth inning hero, driving in the final run of a three-run ninth inning as the Alabama Crimson Tide posted a come-from-behind, walk-off, 7-6, Southeastern Conference victory over the Missouri Tigers on Sunday from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama clinches the series with the win and moves to 31-22 overall and 13-13 in SEC matchups. The loss drops Missouri to 16-29 overall and 8-19 in conference action.
“What a game! At the end of the day, I thought our guys had a great will about them,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “We talked about it prior to the game today. This is why you come to Alabama, this is why you play the game –for big games like today. We know our backs were against the wall today and I thought our guys really showed that in the ninth inning. They just continued to give one good at-bat after another to get [Austen] Smith up there to have the game winner. I’m really proud of our team and the way that they responded in the ninth inning.”
Chance Vincent’s first hit of the game proved big, as it ignited a ninth inning rally for the Tide. After Riley Colburn came in to pinch run, Roberts reached first on an error to put two on with no outs. After fouling off two straight bunt attempts, Salem took a hack at the two-strike delivery and dropped it into the gap in left center to load the bases. Kyle Overstreet came up to the plate and delivered a deep right fly to score Colburn. Then, on an 0-2 count, Ben Moore came up with a game-tying single to left field. From there, Smith hammered the first pitch he saw off Jake Walsh to the wall in left field as Salem scored easily from second base for the game-winning run.
The walk-off RBI-double was the only hit of the day for Smith. Kyle Overstreet accounted for much the Tide’s offense, going 2-for-3 with two singles and three RBI. Ben Moore also had a three-RBI game and finished the day 2-for-5 with the ninth-inning RBI-single and a two-run home run in the fifth.
Andrew Miller pitched in a 3-for-4 effort with a trio of singles, Mikey White posted a 2-for-4 game with a pair of singles, to finish the series with a .636 average (7-for-11), and Kenny Roberts added a single, a walk, a stolen base and three runs scored.
Mitch Greer (2-1) threw the final 2.1 innings for the Tide and earned the first SEC win of his career. The Prattville, Ala., native faced eight batters and used a total of 34 pitches to give his team a chance to win. Walsh (1-1) was charged with the loss for the Tigers after lasting 2.1 innings and allowing the final three runs on six hits with two strikeouts.
Sophomore south paw Justin Kamplain got the call in the final home game of the season for Alabama, hurling a career-high 10 strikeouts in 6.2 innings and allowing three runs on eight hits and a hit by pitch. The crafty left-hander did not walk a batter and tossed a career-high 120 pitches to deal with a career-high tying 29 batters faced.
“What a great start from [Justin] Kamplain,” Gaspard said. “He gave us a tremendous start. We extended his pitch count a little bit and tried to get him through seven innings. We realize right now we’ve got some work to do. In our bullpen we’ve got some guys that have lost some confidence and are struggling a little bit, and we’ve got to get that corrected in the next two or three days before we head to Vanderbilt. But that doesn’t take away from today’s victory.”
Missouri finished the day with 12 hits against Alabama, as Dillon Everett, Josh Lester, Dane Opel and Scott Sommerfeld all had two hits. Opel had two RBI and scored two runs and Dylan Kelly was 1-for-3 with two RBI. Tigers’ starting pitcher Rob Zastryzny threw 6.0 innings, allowing four unearned runs on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
The Tide got the bats going first in the bottom of the third, sparked by Roberts reaching on an error. After Roberts stole second, Overstreet only needed to see the first pitch to drive a single into the right center gap and plate Roberts for an early 1-0 lead.
The Tigers matched in their next opportunity. The fourth frame was started off with an Opel single up the middle. Sommerfeld followed with a single and put runners on second and third for Kelly. Kelly fouled out to left on the first pitch he saw, but the throw home was not in time, as Opel scored to even the game at 1-1 on the sacrifice fly.
The first multiple-run inning came in the fifth on the bats of the Alabama lineup. Roberts got things started by working a full count for a walk, and advanced to third when Georgie Salem reached on an error by the first baseman. Overstreet continued to have success swinging on early counts, as he clubbed the first pitch of his at-bat to send Roberts home on a sacrifice fly. The inning was capped off when Moore uncorked a big drive over the left field wall for his fourth home run of the season, to give the Tide a 4-1 advantage.
Despite their first two batters being retired, Missouri answered the bell in the seventh frame. Everett reached base first with a triple to right center and Josh Lester singled into center field to bring Everett home. After a Keaton Steele walk, Opel tripled to left center plate both base runners. Two more singles from Sommerfeld and Kelly brought two more home to finish the inning with the Tigers leading 6-4.
After the Tide was blanked in the seventh and eighth innings, UA scored their fourth, fifth and sixth runs of the season in the ninth inning to pull off the walk-off victory. It was the first time this season that Alabama has won a game when trailing after seven innings.
The Alabama Crimson Tide travels to Nashville to finish out their regular season slate with a series at the second-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on Friday and Saturday, and the season wraps up with a 1:00 p.m. CT start on Sunday.
Follow the Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team on Facebook at Alabama-Baseball and on Twitter at @AlabamaBSB.
Mississippi State Rallies to Avoid Sweep at the Hands of Ole Miss
OXFORD, Miss. – When things looked their bleakest Sunday, the Mississippi State baseball team kept grinding.
Down 6-0 in the sixth inning, the 13th-ranked Bulldogs staged a comeback for the ages. MSU put things together and late and posted a 7-6 victory over 20th-ranked and arch-rival Ole Miss in the final game of a three-game weekend Southeastern Conference series on a beautiful Mother’s Day at Oxford-University Stadium.
After winning a pair of close games Saturday, the Rebels were trying for their first series sweep of the Bulldogs here since the 2005 season. Instead, MSU seized control with five runs in the sixth inning and two runs in the seventh inning.
“We did a lot of things not characteristic of our team early,” MSU head coach John Cohen said. “But the kids had a business-like approach and never got down. They always felt like they were going to win the game. There was (the Ole Miss mascot) in front of our dugout waving a broom before the game. I think our kids thought about that down 6-0. They were not going to let (the sweep) happen.”
The Bulldogs bolstered their conference standing and NCAA resume with the victory. MSU is now 37-15 overall and 14-13 in league play, while Ole Miss is 35-17 and 14-13. MSU enters the final weekend of the series tied for third place in the Western Division standings and fifth place overall.
The top four finishers receive a first-round bye in the SEC tournament. The Bulldogs would have to sweep South Carolina in the season’s final weekend to achieve that status.
For now, a victory over the arch-rival will have to do.
Senior Ben Bracewell (1-1) threw a career-longest five innings in relief. Jacob Lindgren drew the start but lasted one inning. Bracewell retired the final 10 batters he faced.
The Bulldogs’ bullpen allowed five hits and no earned runs in eight innings of work.
“Ben is a senior and he wanted this real badly,” Cohen said. “(Pitching coach) Butch (Thompson) said to let him go there in the ninth inning because he was really feeling it.”
Ole Miss reached Lindgren for three runs in the first inning. A bases-loaded hit batsman and two-run single by Preston Overbey produced the runs.
The Rebels then reached reliever Jonathan Holder for three unearned runs in the third inning. A walk, hit batsman and error hurt the Bulldogs’ cause as Ole Miss managed only one hit in that at-bat.
Down 6-0, the Bulldogs began to rally in the sixth inning.
Singles by Brett Pirtle and C.T. Bradford and a walk to Sam Frost loaded the bases. That would be all for UM starter Bobby Wahl.
Nick Ammirati and Demarcus Henderson followed with back-to-back RBI-singles. Adam Frazier followed with a two-run double. Alex Detz lined a sacrifice fly for another run, capping this rally.
Frazier again had the big hit an inning late with a two-run, two-out single to put the Maroon and White ahead for only the second time in the series.
“We really had good at-bats throughout the entire game,” Cohen said. “Later in the game, we got into their bullpen and had something to show for it.”
The Bulldogs finished with 11 hits, including three hits by Frazier and C.T. Bradford. Wes Rea also had multi-hits.
Ole Miss finished with five hits and had no multiple hitters. Scott Weathersby (0-2) took the loss in relief.
“I don’t know a lot about all of the Mississippi State-Ole Miss games played throughout all the years,” Cohen said. “I do know this one is my favorite. Hopefully, this win can propel us. In baseball, things can change on you in a heartbeat. We have four really big games at home next week and hopefully, this will help us finish strong.”
MSU closes the regular season with four straight home games at Dudy Noble Field. The Bulldogs face Oral Roberts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the final non-conference game. SEC play concludes with a three-game home series against South Carolina. The Bulldogs and Gamecocks meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 6:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday.