FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The second-largest regular-season crowd in school history watched everything go drastically wrong with one swing of the bat in the top of the eighth inning in top-ranked Vanderbilt’s 6-3 win over No. 9 Arkansas on Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
The Commodore’s preseason All-American Pedro Alvarez drove a ball into the wind in right field, but Hogs’ redshirt freshman Brad Secrist never saw the ball off the bat. As Secrist looked to the sky in shallow right field, Alvarez’s shot fell at the warning track as he raced around the bases for an inside-the-park, three-run home run.
The Commodores had tied the game at 2-2 earlier in the eighth when Logan Forsythe threw wide of second base on a possible double play.
The crowd of 9,203 watched as Duke Welker blew threw the Vanderbilt lineup for the first seven innings, allowing just one unearned run on three hits while holding a 2-1 lead. He retired a string of 12 straight commodores from the last out of the first inning until a single by Kurt Lipton with two outs in the fifth inning.
Welker (4-1) gave up five runs on the day, but only one was earned on five hits in a career-best eight innings. Vandy’s Nick Christiani earned the win to improve to 4-1 on the season, allowing two runs on five hits over 7.1 innings of work. He walked five and struck out three.
The Razorbacks took their first lead of the afternoon in the fourth inning on a solo home run down the left-field line by Forsythe. It was his career-best fourth home run of the season and extended his hitting streak to nine games and 19 of his last 20.
A first-inning error with two outs in the top of the first inning led to Vanderbilt’s first run on a RBI single to left field by Ryan Flaherty. Arkansas tied things up on Tim Smalling’s RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the second inning.
Vanderbilt took a 6-2 lead in the top of the ninth inning off UA reliever Travis Hill, who allowed a RBI single to left-center field by pinch-hitter Brad French.
Danny Hamblin answered in the bottom of the ninth with a lead-off solo home run into the Hogs’ bullpen in left field. It was the only hit allowed by the Commodores’ Mike Minor, who picked up his second save of the season and fanned three in 1.2 innings of work. It was Hamblin’s team-best sixth home run of the season and 41st of his career.
First pitch of Sunday’s rubber game is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. from Baum Stadium. Arkansas has drawn 18,281 fans to the ballpark in the first two games of the series and sold 18,544 tickets. The school record for actual series attendance is 25,091 vs. LSU in 2005 with a tickets sold record of 26,007 vs. the Tigers that year.