FAYETTEVILLE – The Arkansas baseball team (25-16, 9-9 SEC) jumped on top in the first inning Sunday afternoon and picked up a 3-1 victory to earn the series win over No. 11 Vanderbilt (29-12, 8-10) at Baum Stadium.
Chris Oliver posted his third win over a ranked team in as many starts on Sunday, tossing 6.2 innings and giving up just one run on six hits. The bullpen came on and slammed the door once again, as Zach Jackson and Michael Gunn combined to throw 2.1 scoreless innings in relief and Gunn earned his sixth save of the year.
Arkansas scored in the first inning for the fourth time in the last five games when they loaded the bases with two outs and Eric Fisher worked a walk on five pitches to bring Andrew Benintendi home from third base for a 1-0 lead.
The Razorbacks added a pair of insurance runs in the fifth frame, using a passed ball to send Michael Bernal racing home and Brian Anderson provided a clutch two-out single to give Arkansas all the offense it would need in a 3-1 victory.
The Razorbacks improved to 20-7 on the year at Baum Stadium and captured their fifth consecutive SEC series win at home dating back to the 2013 season.
Arkansas returns to action with a pair of midweek games next week, playing host to Northwestern State Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. and Wednesday at 3:05 p.m. at Baum Stadium.
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Coach Dave Van Horn Quotes:
Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn (Opening statement…) – "Today was what I thought it would be, a pitcher’s duel. It was nerve racking when we left those runners out there in the first inning because I know how good Tyler Ferguson is. He didn’t have command today like he normally does over his fastball, but he held it together. Pitching for us was outstanding all weekend. We felt like all three games would be low scoring and they were."
Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn (On Chris Oliver’s performance…) – "I thought he was pretty good. I felt like he lost some velocity and location late with his fastball. For Oliver to be good he just has to throw strikes down and he did early on. They have a pretty good line up; they’re hitting close to .300 coming into this weekend, and that is pretty good in this league. He only threw a couple of change-ups and he had some good breaking balls; it was just enough to keep them off balance."
Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn (On being 5-1 in series finales…) – "We pitch pretty well on Sundays, and our older guys with a little more experience have been taking over, like Wise, Spoon and Anderson. We keep hammering how important these Sunday games are to our guys and they’ve done a good job. Hopefully we’ll keep doing it."
Arkansas has won five straight SEC series at home and won at least one game in 23 straight SEC series dating back to the 2012, currently the second-longest streak in the league behind Vanderbilt at 25. The Razorback pitching staff allowed just three earned runs during the weekend series against Vanderbilt for an earned run average of 1.00. The Razorbacks have held their opponents to two runs or less in 24 of 41 games this year. The Arkansas bullpen has not allowed a run over the last 15.2 innings of work, including 6.2 innings this weekend against Vanderbilt. With a 6-4-3 double play to end the sixth inning, the Razorbacks have turned an SEC-leading 40 double plays on the year, including three in as many games against Vanderbilt. Chris Oliver is 3-0 in his last three starts, defeating No. 1 South Carolina, No. 8 LSU, and No. 11 Vanderbilt. Brian Anderson has reached base in 17 straight games and has hit safely in 35 of 41 games this season. Arkansas improves to 12-2 when scoring in the first inning, 23-3 when scoring first. Arkansas improves to 543-364 all-time in the month of April and 29-23 all-time versus Vanderbilt, including a 16-10 record in Fayetteville.
How They Scored
Arkansas 1, Vanderbilt 0; Bottom 1: Eric Fisher drew a bases loaded walk; Andrew Benintendi scored from third base. Arkansas 2, Vanderbilt 0; Bottom 5: Michael Bernal scored from third base on a passed ball. Arkansas 3, Vanderbilt 0; Bottom 5: Brian Anderson singled to left field; Tyler Spoon scored from third base. Arkansas 3, Vanderbilt 1; Top 7: Brian Reynolds homered to left field.