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VOLS DROP 4-3 HEARTBREAKER TO NO. 7 ARKANSAS; RAZORBACKS CLINCH SERIES
Jeff Lockwood

Jeff Lockwood

March 31, 2007

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Arkansas scored the winning run in the top of the ninth inning Saturday as the seventh-ranked Razorbacks defeated the Tennessee baseball team 4-3 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. A late rally by the Volunteers was held off by Hogs closer Jess Todd, who notched his fourth win of the season by working 2 1/3 hitless innings of relief.

Arkansas improved to 21-8 (6-2 SEC) with the series-clinching win. Tennessee fell to 17-10 (4-4 SEC) with the loss and will look to salvage the series Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

The Vols managed just seven hits Saturday, with Jeff Lockwood and Andy Simunic each responsible for a pair. Vols outfielder Shawn Griffin hit a two-run homer in the seventh to put UT on the scoreboard.

The teams battled through three scoreless innings before Arkansas took a 1-0 lead on an RBI basehit by Jacob Julius in the top of the fourth. The Razorbacks later used three hits in the top of the sixth to extend their lead to 3-0. Designated hitter Jeff Nutt smacked a solo home run off the scoreboard in right field to lead off the frame, and catcher Brian Walker later delivered an RBI single that plated Danny Hamblin.

A walk and a hit batsman gave Tennessee a pair of one-out baserunners in the bottom of the sixth, but a well-turned double play by the Razorbacks infield squelched that threat. Perseverance prevailed, however, as the Vols finally broke through against Hogs starter Duke Welker in the seventh when Griffin belted his second homer of the year, trimming the Arkansas lead to one run, 3-2.

 

 

A two-out single by Simunic later in the bottom of the seventh marked the end of Welker's day, as UA head coach summoned closer Todd out of the bullpen. Vols centerfielder Julio Borbon greeted Todd with a double down the right line that put two runners in scoring position, and Todd then unleashed a wild pitch that enabled Simunic to score the tying run.

The Vols went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth, and Walker led off the top of the ninth with a double off Lockwood, who took over for reliever Danny Wiltz in the top of the eighth. Stephen Robison came on to pinch run for Walker, and Willard moved Robison to third on a sacrifice fielder's choice. Arkansas leadoff man Jake Dugger then put Arkansas back on top by one with an RBI sacrifice fly that plated Robison as the eventual winning run.

In the bottom of the ninth, Tennessee shortstop Danny Lima singled up the middle to lead things off, but Todd retired the next three Vols in order to secure the win.

Tennessee starting pitcher Craig Cobb was lifted after allowing three runs on seven hits through six innings. Cobb took the loss to fall to 5-3 on the year and was replaced with sophomore right-hander Danny Wiltz, who tossed one perfect inning before handing it over to Lockwood. Lockwood surrendered just one run on one hit through the final two frames but was saddled with his first loss of the season, bringing his record to 2-1 with a team-high three saves.

Welker's no-decision came after 6 2/3 innings of work in which he gave up three runs on five hits.

The defensive gem of the afternoon came when Griffin jumped up and reached above the top of the left-field wall to rob Arkansas shortstop Jake Willard of a home run in the top of the third, keeping the game scoreless at that point.

Through the first two games in the series, Arkansas has out-hit the Vols by two, 13-11. However, Tennessee has committed five errors to none for the Razorbacks.

Sunday's series-finale features sophomore left-hander Lance McClain (5-2, 4.58 ERA) on the mound for UT. Arkansas has yet to announce its starter.

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