Tennessee Holds Off Arkansas 14-9; Conner, Gra
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. – Jordan Czarniecki drove in four runs on two home runs and two doubles as the Tennessee Volunteers jumped out to a 14-1 lead and held off the Arkansas Razorbacks in the late innings to capture a 14-9 victory in the Friday night series opener at Baum Stadium.
Tennessee improved to 20-20 overall and 6-10 in the Southeastern Conference, while the Razorbacks dropped to 21-14 overall and 5-8 in the SEC.
Razorback starter Jarrett Gardner fell to 1-1 on the year after allowing 10 runs, six earned, on six hits in four innings of work. Ben Riley earned the win to move to 3-2. Riley gave up four runs, all earned, in six innings on five hits with six strikeouts.
Czarniecki gave the Vols a 1-0 lead in the top of the first with a solo home run over the left field fence. It was Czarniecki’s fifth home run of the year and the fourth long ball surrendered by Gardner this year.
Tennessee exploded for five runs, all the with two outs, in the top of the second inning to take a 6-0 lead. Rob Fitzgerald plated the first run of the inning with a single that scored Dennis Gomez. With runners on second and third, Nick Crowe dragged a bunt down the first base line that was fielded by Nick Pitts. The umpires ruled Pitts missed the tag on Crowe which allowed a run to score and continue the inning. Still with two on and two outs, Czarniecki ripped a three-run home run, his second dinger of the game, over the left field fence to give the Vols a 6-0 advantage.
The Volunteers increased their lead on a two-run single by Walter Sevilla that scored Crowe and Czarniecki that put Tennessee up 8-0. Sevilla then moved to second on a passed ball. Arkansas starter Jarrett Gardner was then pulled for Clint Brannon.
Brannon walked three consecutive batters to bring in one run and gave up a single to Matt Sternberg that plated another run to put Tennessee up 10-0.
Aaron Graves ended the shutout for the Razorbacks with his first career home run. Graves took the first pitch of the inning over the bullpen in left field to make it a 10-1 game in the bottom of the fifth. The home run was just the second hit of the night for the Razorbacks.
Tennessee added four runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 14-1 lead. Gomez highlighted the Vols’ inning with a two-run double.
The Razorbacks showed signs of life in the bottom of the inning when Michael Conner launched a three-run home run that bounced off the top of the batter’s eye in centerfield. Jeff Fletcher and Luke Weatherford each scored on Conner’s 10th home run of the year to cut the lead to 14-4.
Arkansas cut further into the Tennessee lead with a three-run seventh inning. Ryan Fox had a sacrifice fly to score Weatherford, while Brady Toops had an RBI single up the middle that plated Fletcher. Conner also brought a run in on a grounder that was booted by the Tennessee shortstop that left the Razorbacks trailing 14-7 through seven innings of play.
The Razorbacks continued to chip away at the deficit with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to make it a 14-9 game. Fletcher plated a run with an RBI single and Fox added another with his second sacrifice fly of the night.
Tennessee was able to keep the Razorbacks off the scoreboard in the ninth inning to preserve the win. The Vols have now won three of the last four games at Baum Stadium.
The two teams will meet at 2 p.m. Saturday in the second game of the series. Gary Hogan, Jr., will take the mound for the Razorbacks. Hogan is 3-4 on the year with a 5.23 earned run average.
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