NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Arkansas bats came through for Nick Schmidt in the ninth inning on Saturday afternoon as the No. 12 Razorbacks evened their series with No. 16 Vanderbilt with a 5-3 win in front of 2,032 fans at Hawkins field.
Sophomore catcher Brian Walker led off the ninth inning with a solo home run to put the Hogs back on top at 4-3. Danny Hamblin then delivered a two-out RBI single through the left side to give UA a two-run cushion. The home run was the second of the season for Walker, who finished 2 for 4 on the day.
“It was a big win after coming off of last night where we were never really in the game,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “For us to hold onto that game was huge. What a big inning for us in the top of the ninth after they came back and tied and we come back to score two runs. We told the team before the game, hey, let’s find a way to win today. Get after it. We knew they had a good pitcher going and knew it was going to be a good one.”
The Razorbacks improve to 24-8 on the season and 5-6 in SEC play. The loss snapped a 10-game winning streak for Vanderbilt at Hawkins Field and left them with a 21-10 overall mark and an 8-3 record in league action.
The ninth-inning heroics by Arkansas were needed after the Commodores scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning off of a tiring Schmidt. The UA left-hander managed to survive the inning and got the win to improve to 6-2 on the season. He struck out 10 VU batters for his four straight double-digit strikeout performance.
Vanderbilt’s Casey Weathers took the loss after being charged with his first two runs of the season in the ninth inning. The Dores’ starter Cody Crowell worked 7.1-strong innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and a walk.
The Hogs took their first lead in 23 innings, dating back to Craig Gentry’s walk-off home run against Tennessee on Sunday, April 2, with two runs in the sixth inning.
Hamblin drove home the go ahead run with a RBI double off the wall in left-field scoring Jake Dugger, who had reached on an infield single in the previous at bat. Two outs and a Blake Parker single later the Razorbacks had runners on first and third with Walker at bat.
With two strikes on Walker, Van Horn helped the Hogs manufacture a run with the steal of home. Parker broke early at first and when the pitcher’s attention turned to the runner, Hamblin broke from third base and slid home well ahead of the throw from the pitcher to give UA a 3-1 lead.
Vanderbilt jumped on top with a RBI single in the bottom of the second inning by nine-hole hitter Matt Meingasner. He dumped in a blooper over the head of Hamblin at first base and right on chalk to give the Commodores a 1-0 lead.
Meingasner finished with two hits and two RBI for Vanderbilt, while designated hitter Brian Hernandez paced the Commodores’ nine-hit attach with a 3-for-4 performance.
Hamblin broke out of a 0-for-10 slump with a 3-for-5 performance on Saturday. He also drove in two runs for a team-best 42 RBI on the season. Dugger also chipped in with two hits.
The Razorbacks tied things up at 1-1 in the top of the fifth inning with a sacrifice fly off the bat of Gentry. The run was set up with a single by Walker and a double by Matt Willard.
The rubber game of the series is slated for 1 p.m. Sunday from Hawkins Field. Arkansas will send senior left-hander Trey Holloway to the mound while Vanderbilt will counter with right-hander Ty Davis.