Chris Murray: Razorbacks Close Home Slate with Series Win Over Vols

Chris Murray Bio
So, what do you do after a disappointing Friday night loss to a team with one of the worst records in the league. Well, you bounce back and outscore your opponent 21-3 over the next two days. At least that’s what the Arkansas Razorbacks did this weekend.

As Arkansas enters the final weeks of the regular season, many onlookers circled the Tennessee series as one the Hogs could use a sweep if they were to entertain thoughts of hosting an NCAA regional. The Volunteers entered the series at 6-16 in the Southeastern Conference, fighting to simply make the conference tournament, which will feature 12 of the 14 teams.

But every team seems to have at least one high-quality starter, and Tennessee is not an exception. Zack Godley earned the complete-game victory on Friday, limiting the Hogs to just four hits in the Vols’ 8-3 win. Dominic Ficociello gave the Razorbacks the lead with a two-run homer in the fourth, but Tennessee took the lead for good in the sixth. Ethan Bennett drove in five runs for the Vols, who knocked Barrett Astin out of the game in the sixth.

The Razorbacks quickly put behind them that shocking defeat. Arkansas scored in every inning, and Ryne Stanek tossed seven innings of five-hit baseball in an 11-1 win Saturday. Brian Anderson went 4-for-4 with four runs scored and three RBIs. Anderson lacked a double for a cycle.

Arkansas allowed no drama on Sunday. On Senior Day, the Hogs jumped on Tennessee for five runs in the first inning and never looked back. Jordan Farris’ three-run double highlighted the opening frame. Senior Matt Vinson homered in the sixth. Randall Fant, another senior, fired 6 1/3 innings of two-hit shutout ball for his fifth win.

The Razorbacks improved to 17-9 in league play, which guaranteed them no worse than the no. 4 seed in the SEC Tournament. Arkansas currently has the third best league record, one game better than South Carolina, which the Hogs swept in Columbia.

Arkansas travels to Auburn for the final series of the regular season. Auburn is currently last in the SEC West, but has played better as of late, including a series win at Florida this past weekend.

After splitting four games with Northwest Arkansas in Springdale, the Arkansas Travelers took three of four games in Tulsa to pull within one-half game of Springfield in the Texas League North Division. Manny Correa pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits, as the Travelers clinched the series win 4-0 on Sunday. Randal Grichuk hit his team-leading sixth homer of the season.

After the series with the Travelers, Northwest Arkansas split four games with the Cardinals in Springfield, Mo. The Naturals took Saturday’s game 5-4 in 20 innings. Juan Graterol provided the winning margin with a homer in the 20th. First baseman Matt Fields, who leads the team with nine home runs, got the win with three innings of relief. He allowed a run in the bottom of the 20th, but stranded the tying run at third. The Naturals are 13-21, five games out of first.

The Travs (18-17) start an eight-game homestand tonight by welcoming the Naturals to Dickey-Stephens Park. First pitch is set for 7:10.


Arkansas-Pine Bluff heads into this week’s Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament as the no. 2 seed with a 13-11 record and a strong finish to the regular season. The Golden Lions are in search of their first SWAC title and a berth in the NCAA regionals.

Southern Arkansas claimed the Great American Conference championship last week and was rewarded with the no. 3 seed in the Central Regional of the NCAA Division II tournament. The Muleriders will play Missouri Western at noon Thursday in Mankato, Minn.

After winning the series opener on Friday, Central Arkansas dropped the final two games at home to Stephen F. Austin. The Bears fell to 12-12 in Southland Conference play. UCA travels to Huntsville, Texas, to play Sam Houston St. in the final series of the regular season.

Arkansas-Little Rock and Arkansas State are part of a three-way tie for seventh in the Sun Belt standings at 11-16. The teams meet for a three-game series starting Thursday in Jonesboro, where they will be jockeying for position in the upcoming conference tournament, to be held in Lafayette, La.

Coaches, SIDs, baseball fans from around the state: got a tip or interesting note? Pass it on to Chris Murray here.

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