May 2, 2004
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Ninth-place hitter Stephen Robison's disputed two-run homer in the sixth inning proved the difference as Arkansas beat Tennessee 5-3 before 4,871 here Sunday. The Razorbacks took two of three in the weekend Southeastern Conference series.
After Vols reliever Scot Drucker retired the first two hitters he faced in the sixth, Arkansas catcher Brady Toops doubled to the wall in left center. That's when Robison lofted his 2-2 offering from Drucker over the left field foul pole and third base umpire Mark McGill ruled the drive fair by the slimmest of margins.
"Obviously, we thought the ball was foul from our angle," UT head coach Rod Delmonico said. "But the third base umpire said it went right over the top of the foul pole and that's the call we go with."
Winds were blowing toward the left field corner at 15-20 M.P.H. when the play occurred.
Tennessee had just tied the game in the top of the sixth, scoring three times after putting the first three batters aboard. Eli Iorg walked ahead of singles from Kyle Norrid and Alex Suarez. Chase Headley and Brian Cleveland followed with RBI-groundouts before Michael Rivera legged out an infield hit to plate Suarez and make it 3-3.
The Hogs, now 33-14 and 16-6 atop the SEC Western Division, broke a scoreless deadlock in the third when Jake Dugger lined an opposite-field solo homer that cleared the Arkansas bullpen in left.
They made it 3-0 in the fourth inning thanks to aggressive base running. Casey Rowlett and Toops executed a double steal of second and third and both came home when Tennessee catcher Nick Crowe fired low past third base and into left field.
UT, which fell to 33-13 and 11-10 SEC, had a golden chance in its half of the fourth. The Vols placed runners at the corners with one out when, on a failed drag bunt attempt by Crowe, Headley was picked off third by Arkansas catcher Toops. One pitch later, Rivera was caught by pitcher Jay Sawatski making an early break for second and the Vols' rally was snuffed.
"That was a big play," Delmonico said of the pickoff at third. "We were trying to bunt a run in and at least get one there and the catcher made a great play.
"We just didn't hit with men on base. They had some timely hits and we didn't. Other than the sixth inning when we scored our runs, we didn't come through when we had men on base."
The Vols outhit Arkansas 14-8 but had three runners caught stealing in addition to the pickoff of Headley. Iorg, Norrid, Headley, Rivera and Josh Alley all had two hits for Tennessee, while Clay Goodwin and Rowlett had a pair each for the Razorbacks.
Drucker, 6-3, took the loss for Tennessee, allowing three hits over three innings. He relieved starter Luke Hochevar, who made only his fourth career SEC start and first since April 20, 2003, at Kentucky. Hochevar struck out five and walked five in five innings, allowing just one earned run.
Sawatski, 7-2, notched the win for Arkansas, working the first seven innings and striking out four without a walk. Caton Hall scattered three hits over the final two innings for his fourth save.
The Vols return to action Friday, hosting Vanderbilt in the first of a three-game series at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Game times for the weekend are 7 p.m., 4 p.m. and 2 p.m. Eastern time.