FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Brian Walker’s fifth-inning grand slam was all No. 9 Arkansas would need to capture its weekend series with top-ranked Vanderbilt on Sunday with an 8-3 win in front of 7,985 fans at Baum Stadium.
“We were able to bounce back this weekend, which is what we have done all year,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “This is toughest team we have played, and I was proud of our guys. We didn’t dwell on yesterday’s loss and we able to move on and get the win.”
The Razorbacks’ record improves to 19-7 on the season and moves Arkansas to the top of the SEC West standings at 4-2 in league play.
All five of the Hogs’ runs in the fifth inning came with two outs after Casey Coon was thrown out at home plate on Jeff Nutt’s single. With Nutt on first base, Brad Secrist was hit by a pitch and Logan Forsythe and Danny Hamblin both singled to load the bases for Walker.
Walker then smoked a 1-0 fastball from VU reliever Stephen Shao into the Razorbacks’ bullpen in left field to stake UA to an 8-2 lead. It was Walker’s fourth home run of the season and his second career grand slam. He finished 2 for 3 and tied his career high with five RBI.
“He did a good job of staying on the ball and got the biggest hit of the game for us,” Van Horn said. “We were confident in him hitting against the left-hander.”
That would be all Jess Todd would need as the right-hander pitched the final six innings to earn his second win of the weekend. Todd (3-2) allowed just one run on four hits while fanning five.
“Jess Todd did a tremendous job today,” Van Horn said. “He really got things going for us and turned it up. He had everything working for him, and never really had a bad inning. He even went longer than we thought he would. He was warm and is just strong as an ox.”
UA starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel did not get a decision after giving up two runs on five hits in three innings in his fourth career start. Vanderbilt’s starting pitcher Brett Jacobson (4-1) did not fair any better, allowing three runs on five hits in just 1.1 innings.
The Razorbacks put one run on the scoreboard in the first inning on a two-out RBI double to right field by Jeff Nutt. Arkansas added two more runs in the second inning and chased Jacobson from the game. Walker and Ben Tschepikow punched in the Hogs’ two runs with a double off the bat of Walker and a bases-loaded single by Tschepikow.
The Commodores answered right back with two runs in the top of the third inning off Keuchel with two-out RBI singles up the middle from Dominic de la Osa and Pedro Alvarez.
Nutt led the Hogs’ 14-hit attack, going 3 for 5 with a RBI and a run scored. Tschepikow, Coon, Forsythe and Walker all collected two knocks each. Forsythe has now hit in 10 straight games and 20 of his last 21, while Nutt is hitting an impressive .474 in SEC play.
The crowds at Baum Stadium were big all weekend with a school record 26,266 passing through the gates for the three games with a school record 27,083 tickets were sold. Arkansas has sold 98,157 tickets for 13 home games this season for a 7,550 per game average.
The Razorbacks embark on a four-game road trip Tuesday at Oral Roberts before continuing SEC play with a three-game set in Knoxville next weekend.