FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (release) -- No. 14 Arkansas used a steady offensive onslaught, scoring in all eight of its trips to the plate, and got seven shutout innings from starting pitcher Ryne Stanek to even the series against Tennessee with an 11-1 victory on Saturday evening at Baum Stadium.
“We weren’t very good, that’s the truth of it,” UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “We weren’t good offensively. Obviously Ryne Stanek is a really good pitcher, All-American-type stuff, first-round draft stuff, but I thought early on he gave us a chance which sometimes good pitchers do. He gave us a chance and gave us an opening but we didn’t take advantage of it.
“Stanek made some big pitches when he had to. He had a good slider and our guys weren’t seeing it. You tip your hat to him, he threw a quality game and we didn’t have a quality game from our standpoint. Nick Williams has done a lot of good things in the Saturday slot and we needed someone else to pick him up tonight and we didn’t have that.”
The loss sets up a rubber match with the Razorbacks at 2:05 p.m. ET on Sunday. With the series on the line, the Volunteers will send freshman right-hander Aaron Quillen (2-3, 6.04) to face Arkansas senior southpaw Randall Fant (4-1, 2.27). The contest will be televised on CSS with Mike Morgan and Troy Eklund on the call.
“Tonight was huge and it got away from us,” Serrano said. “It makes tomorrow even bigger with Missouri winning tonight. It is important for me to get this program to Hoover even if it as the last seed going in. This program hasn’t done that in a while and I hope I have 32 guys in that dugout that have the same mentality that I have.”
Offensively, the Razorbacks scored their 11 runs on an economical 12 hits and had the leadoff batter reach base in six of eight innings with that runner scoring all six times. The Vols, meanwhile, recorded seven hits in the contest, but struggled to get the clutch ones, going 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and 2-for-18 with runners on base.
Vincent Jackson drove in Tennessee’s only run of the game with a two-out RBI double in the eighth that extended his hitting streak to nine games, while Christin Stewart finished a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate with a double and a walk. Scott Price also added a pair of hits for the Big Orange as he moved his hitting streak to seven games.
A pupil of Serrano’s on the 2012 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, Stanek struck out nine and worked around five UT hits and two walks in his seven scoreless innings of work to improve to 7-2 on the season. Nick Williams suffered the loss for the Vols, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out three in 2.2 innings.
Joe Serrano got the ball rolling for the Razorbacks with a leadoff double in the bottom of the first. He then moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single by Dominic Ficociello. Arkansas would go on to load the bases with just one out but Williams was able to keep the damage to a minimum, buckling down to strike out the next two batters.
It was a one-out triple by Brett McAfee that did the damage in the second as he scored just a few pitches later on another wild pitch. In the third, Arkansas took advantage of a UT error to plate an unearned run as Tyler Spoon made it a 3-0 game with a sacrifice fly to center.
A two-run home run to straight-away center by Brian Anderson then pushed the lead to five in the fourth and a leadoff double by Spoon led to another run in the fifth when he scored three batters later on a sacrifice fly by Jordan Farris.
The Vols certainly weren’t without their share of scoring opportunities, however, as they put at least one runner in scoring position in three of the first four innings but couldn’t cash in. Their best chance came in the top of the fourth as a hit batter, a single and a wild pitch put runners on second and third but a strikeout and a groundout to short kept UT off the scoreboard.
After Arkansas increased its lead to eight with two runs in the sixth, Tennessee had another prime opportunity slip through the cracks in the top of the seventh as Stewart led the frame off with a first-pitch double to the gap in left-center to end a streak of eight consecutive batters retired by Stanek. The Razorback right-hander would proceed to strike out the next three batters however to leave Stewart stranded at third after he moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch.
Arkansas used its fourth sacrifice fly of the night to plate its ninth run in the seventh before the Big Orange finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the eighth with Jackson driving in a run with a two-out RBI double. The Razorbacks got that run and another back in the following frame, tacking on two more to close out the scoring in their 11-1 win.