Knoxville, Tenn. — The 294th pitch of the night proved to be the last as Tennessee’s Javi Herrera hit a solo home run with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Vols a 1-0 victory over 22nd-ranked Arkansas Friday night in series opener. Arkansas dropped to 33-14 overall and 13-12 in the Southeastern Conference. The loss was the fifth straight on the road in the league play for the Razorbacks. Tennessee improved to 28-21 overall and 11-14 in the SEC.
Scott Roehl (7-3) took the loss for Arkansas after giving up one run, earned, on one hit in two and one-third innings of relief work. Jarrett Gardner started for Arkansas and pitched nine innings of shutout ball allowing only six hits. Gardner tied his career-best for strikeouts with six and did not walk a batter.
Luke Hochevar (6-4) earned the victory after going two and two-thirds innings. Hochevar did not allow a hit or walk and fanned two. Ben Riley went nine and one-third innings in the start and surrendered only four hits and struck out six.
Herrera’s home run came after Roehl struck out Josh Alley to begin the bottom of the 12th inning. The home run was only the second past the sixth inning for the Vols.
The Vols prevented a run from scoring in the first when left fielder Alley threw Scott Bridges out at home plate when Bridges tried to score from second on a single by Haas Pratt. Bridges was hit by a pitch and stole second to move into scoring position.
Through three innings both starting pitchers had control of the game as each had surrendered only one hit apiece. Gardner fanned three on 39 pitches with no walks in the first three innings, while Riley struck out one and had one hit batter on 33 pitches.
Kirk McConnell led the sixth inning off with a single to left, but was unable to advance as Scott Hode popped up to short and Bridges lined out to Nick Crowe at first who tagged the bag to double off McConnell.
The Razorbacks turned a double-play of their own in the bottom of the sixth to prevent the Vols from scoring. With Jordan Czarniecki (single) aboard, Alley hit a fly ball to center that Ryan Fox caught on the slide. Czarniecki took off on contact and was rounding second when Fox made the grab. Fox easily threw to Pratt at first to double-off Czarinecki. Gardner then fanned Herrera to end the inning with the game in a scoreless tie.
Tennessee threatened in the eighth when Kyle Norrid singled to left to open the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brian Cleveland. Norrid then advanced to third on Chad LeGate’s ground out to Bridges for the second out of the inning. Gardner ended the inning when he forced Czarniecki to ground out to second to strand Norrid at third.
After going nine and one-third innings Riley was lifted after a pair of walks gave the Hogs two on with one out in the 10th inning. Riley’s two walks in the 10th were the only walks issued in the game. With pinch-runner Chris Williams at second and Pitts at first, Clay Goodwin pinch-hit for Hagedorn and grounded into an inning-ending double-play.
Gardner gave way to Roehl in the bottom of the 10th after nine innings of work. Roehl hit Nick Crowe to open the bottom of the 10th. Walter Sevilla moved Crowe to second with sacrifice bunt. Crowe then moved to third on a passed ball with Norrid at the plate and one out. Norrid then lifted a fly ball to left that was caught by Chris Williams. Crowe tagged and broke for home but was gunned down on a game-saving throw by Williams to end the inning.
Arkansas went down in order in the top of the 12th inning to set up Herrera’s game-winning heroics.
The Razorbacks and Vols continue their series with a 6 p.m. (CT) game Saturday. The game will be televised by Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast.