FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Logan Forsythe’s deep fly ball to right-center field in the bottom of the 10th inning completed a wild 8-7 win for No. 9 Arkansas over top-ranked Vanderbilt on Friday night in front of 9,078 fans at Baum Stadium.
Sean Jones stood ready to tag up at second base on the play, but Arkansas skipper Dave Van Horn had another idea and waved Jones around third base. The rely throw to the plate was in time, but Commodores’ catcher Shea Robin could not come up with the throw cleanly as Jones slapped the plate on a head-first dive for the win.
“With one out, they had the outfielders playing fairly shallow so when the ball was hit I didn’t think he could get to it,” Van Horn said. "When he made the catch he (the center fielder) was still running backwards so I made the decision to send Sean (Jones). Luckily for us the ground had gotten a little wet and it skipped on the catcher and got away.”
The win improves the Razorbacks’ record to 18-6 and 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference, while the Commodores fall to 22-2 and 2-2 in league action.
Jess Todd (2-2) earned the win out of the bullpen, allowing two runs over three innings while striking out four. Casey Weathers (3-1) took the loss for VU, surrendering just one hit and the final run in 2.2 innings.
The pitcher’s duel between Arkansas’ Nick Schmidt and Vanderbilt’s David Price never came to pass as both teams pushed runs across the plate early.
Schmidt worked seven innings and left with a 7-5 lead after allowing three earned runs on six hits with eight strikeouts. Price, who struck out 17 Hogs last season in Nashville gave up five runs – four earned – on six hits in six innings while striking out eight.
“I thought we had a lot of guys step up and play well tonight,” Van Horn said. “Logan (Forsythe) had a great game along with the final play. I thought Jess Todd pitched great. They got two cheap hits and then Jake (Dugger) was unable to make a catch and they got the runs off of that. But after the ninth inning, he came out in the 10th and shut down their batters and got us back to the dugout, which I thought was crucial to the win.”
The Commodores jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Robin’s two-RBI single up the middle. But the Razorbacks answered right back on Forsythe’s RBI single and Jeff Nutt’s RBI double.
Forsythe paced the Hogs’ 10-hit attack, going 3 for 4 with two RBI and three runs scored. He has now hit in eight straight games and 18 of his last 19. Nutt also went 3 for 4 with two doubles and three RBI.
Arkansas took a 5-3 lead in the second inning with three runs and a little help from the Commodores. Two runs came around to score on a throwing error by Robin who tried to pick Brian Walker off third base but the ball ended up down the left-field line where Matt Meingasner could not field it cleanly. Nutt then followed with a RBI single through the left side.
Vanderbilt came right back with three runs – two unearned – in the top of the third inning, which was highlighted by a RBI single by Meingasner.
Both starting pitchers settled down at that point and worked three-scoreless innings. The Hogs then touched reliever Stephen Shao up for two runs on three hits in the seventh inning with Nutt doubling into right-center field for a run and Tim Smalling singling through the left side to score the second run.
Again, the Commodores came right back with two runs off UA reliever Todd in the top of the eighth inning. Todd gave up singles to the two of the first three hitters, before David Macias double just beyond a diving Jake Dugger in left-center field to tie the game.
The Razorbacks threatened in the bottom of the ninth inning but were unable to get two bunts down off Weathers’ 98 mph fastball and Dugger was rung up on a called third strike to end the inning.
The two teams will meet tomorrow at 2:05 p.m. from Baum Stadium for game two of the three-game series.