KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – No. 7 Arkansas clinched its Southeastern Conference series at Tennessee with a 4-3 win in front of 2,621 fans at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The win keeps the Razorbacks atop the SEC West with a 6-2 record in league play. The Volunteers fall to 17-11 on the season and 4-4 in conference play.
Brian Walker came through in the clutch with a leadoff double down the right field line in the top of the ninth inning off UT reliever Jeff Lockwood that started a rally that led to the winning run.
Stephen Robison pinch ran for Walker and Matt Willard sacrificed him over to third base with a bunt down the third base line. Jake Dugger then lined the first pitch he saw to left field that was caught but deep enough to score Robison.
Tennessee had not scored a run in nine innings dating back to last night’s game before answering in a big way with a two-run home run by Shawn Griffin in the bottom of the seventh inning with one out. After recording the second out of the inning, Welker was lifted for Jess Todd.
Julio Borbon greeted Todd with a well-placed double down the right-field line just beyond the glove of Danny Hamblin at first base. Todd then uncorked a wild pitch to allow the tying run to cross home plate.
Todd (4-2) found his stride and took care of business in the eighth and ninth inning to earn his fourth win of the season. He worked 2.1 innings and struck out four Volunteers.
Lockwood, who started the game as the designated hitter, came on in the top of the eighth inning and eventually took the loss to fall to 2-1 on the season. He allowed just one hit and the one run.
Duke Welker did not get a decision but turned in his fourth consecutive quality start, working 6.2 innings and allowing three runs on five this with three walks and two strikeouts.
The Razorbacks finally broke through off the crafty Cobb in the fourth inning on Jacob Julius’ two-out single to right field. Logan Forsythe scored on the play after singling with one out and then swiping second base. It was his team-high seventh stolen base of the season, and he has now hit in 22 of his last 24 games.
Arkansas gave Welker a little breathing room in top of the sixth inning with two runs on three hits. Jeff Nutt got things started with his second home run of the season off the scoreboard in right field. Hamblin then doubled with one and Walker drove him in with a RBI single through the ride side to a 3-0 lead.
Julius and Walker led the Hogs’ eight-hit attack with two hits apiece, while Dugger, Nutt, Julius and Walker all chipped in with one RBI.
The Razorbacks go for the series sweep at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Arkansas will start left-hander pitcher Dallas Keuchel on the mound.