FAYETTEVILLE – Tennessee took advantage of Arkansas reliever James Teague in the top of the seventh inning, scoring three runs to take a 5-4 lead, and held on for the victory on Friday night.
The 5,540 in attendance at Baum Stadium hoped to see the Razorbacks move closer to winning a seventh SEC series in a row and maybe hosting a regional in the postseason. Instead, they saw a good pitching performance by Trey Killian, and a two-run home run by Tyler Spoon that gave the Razorbacks a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth, both wasted.
Killian pitched six innings, allowing six hits, two runs — one earned — striking out three and hitting one batter. With his pitch count at 93, Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn opted to go with Teague in the top of the seventh.
Teague was greeted with a singles by Nick Senzel and Jared Pruett, a double by Christin Stewart that scored Senzel, and then, following a strikeout, a single to right field by A.J. Simcox that scored Pruett.
Van Horn went to the bullpen again, bringing in Zach Jackson, who struck out Jordan Rodgers and retired Chris Hall on a flyout to left field. However, Jackson’s wild pitch with Hall at the plate allowed Stewart to score.
The Razorbacks took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Joe Serrano singled with one out. Andrew Benintendi then singled to center and Spoon followed with an RBI single to left field scoring Serrano.
The Volunteers tied the score in the top of the third when Senzel hit a shot over the fence in center field. Benintendi leaped to try and catch it, but the ball cleared his glove as well. In a light-hearted moment, Benintendi lost his glove over the fence when trying to make the catch. Serrano raced over from left field, jumped the fence and retrieved Benintendi’s glove.
Benintendi quickly gave the Razorbacks a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the third when he hit his 16th home run of the season over the fence in center field. It was one of three hits on the night for the sophomore.
Tennessee came back to tie the score in the top of the fourth when Andrew Lee delivered a one-out single to left field. The hit was followed by two walks to load the bases, and Lee scored when Chris Hall was hit by a Killian pitch. However, with the bases loaded and one out, Killian struck out Benito Santiago and got Parker Wormsley to pop out to first baseman Clark Eagan in foul territory.
In the bottom of the sixth, Benitendi doubled to center field with one out, and that’s when Spoon hit his home run easily clearing the fence in left field. Spoon had two hits on the night and three runs batted in.
The Razorbacks tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth when Michael Bernal singled to left with one out. He reached second on Chad Spanberger’s groundout to the Vols’ pitcher for the second out. However, Clark Eagan was retired on a groundout to second to end the game.
Tennessee (20-24, 8-17) starter Andy Cox pitched seven innings and got the win. Cox (2-3) allowed the four runs on seven hits. Teague (3-3) took the loss.