GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Jeff Nutt was Arkansas’ offensive leader with three hits including a blast over the right field wall in the eighth on Sunday afternoon as the Razorback baseball team won its first Southeastern Conference series of the year against the 21st-ranked Florida Gators with a 10-4 victory at McKethan Stadium.
Showing more emotion than it has in the past several weeks, Arkansas (19-15, 5-9 SEC) scored early and often in the rubber-match with Florida (24-12, 9-6 SEC). The Razorbacks scored in five of the nine innings and worked Florida through six pitchers as it watched Justin Wells throw 6.2 innings of splendid baseball and Stephen Richards close the door over the final 2.1 innings.
The Razorbacks got the jump of the Gators in the top of the third inning when they posted three consecutive hits with one out. Chase Leavitt started things off with a single to left side followed by a double by Ben Tschepikow to the left field wall. Logan Forsythe drove in Leavitt with a single to left field. A walk to Nutt opened the door for a red hot Brett Eibner who made the most of his opportunity by driving the ball to right-center field, scoring Tschepikow and Forsythe.
Florida looked like it would make a push to score in the bottom of the third when they got a leadoff single, but the next batter hit a shot to Forsythe at third who knocked the ball down and quickly recover to start a 5-4-3 double play and end the Florida momentum.
Despite its unfortunate luck in the third, Florida came back with a two-spot in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back-to-back hits to open the inning. Two singles sandwiched a double and drove in the two Florida runs but crafty pitching and a picked off runner by Cisterna ended the Gator threat.
Arkansas came right back with two of its own in the top of the fifth to make up for the Florida runs in the fourth. Tschepikow led off with a ground-rule double and moved to third on a sharp single to center field by Nutt. Arkansas’ lead runner would score on an Eibner double to left center field, Eibner’s third RBI of the day, and the second Razorback run scored on a ground ball to first base by Jacob House.
A two-out rally in the top of the sixth put another two runs on the board for the Razorbacks. Arkansas loaded the bases and saw Nutt strike a single to center which scored both Leavitt and Tschepikow. A bobble on the relay prompted Van Horn to send Forsythe to the plate where he would get gunned down by the Florida second-baseman ending the inning.
The see-saw battle continued as Florida scored another two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Arkansas would respond with another two in the top of the seventh with the benefit of no hits. Eibner led off by getting hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Tim Smalling would walk and to put two runners on and Eibner would score when Cisterna’s ground ball to third was misplayed and rolled into the outfield. A safety squeeze by Scott Lyons would score Arkansas’ ninth run of the ballgame.
Wells line on the afternoon included 6.2 innings, four earned runs, two walks and two strikeouts as he threw 105 pitches to pick up his third win of the season. Richards was dominant on the mound facing the minimum seven batters faced with four strikeouts. At the plate, Leavitt, Tschepikow, Nutt and Eibner each had multi-hit games with Smalling and Cisterna getting the rest of Arkansas’ hits.
The Razorbacks stay on the road for a Tuesday evening contest with Oral Roberts in Tulsa, Okla., before returning to Baum Stadium for a game Wednesday night with Alcorn State. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit www.hogwired.com.