Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Walt Beazley)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - Seniors Randall Fant and Matt Vinson made their last regular season start at Baum Stadium a memorable one on Sunday as the two seniors led No. 14 Arkansas to a series-clinching 10-2 win over Tennessee at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks have now won seven of their nine Southeastern Conference series for the first time since the 1999 season. Arkansas is 34-17 overall and 17-9 in SEC play. With Arkansas' win on Sunday and Ole Miss' lost to Mississippi State, the Razorbacks have clinched a top four seed in the SEC Tournament and a first round bye. Tennessee is now 20-28 and 7-18 in SEC play after the loss.
Arkansas honored its six-member senior class of Trent Daniel, Randall Fant, Cade Lynch, Jacob Mahan, Matt Vinson and Tyler Wright before the game. The senior class has totaled 163 wins over the last four seasons, a trip to the College World Series, three NCAA Tournament appearances, two Super Regional appearances and an SEC Western Division title.
Fant (5-1) started on the mound for the Razorbacks and earned the win after striking out five and giving up just two hits in 3.1 innings. Daniel and Wright each appeared in the game out of the bullpen.
Jalen Beeks also worked a scoreless inning of relief out of the bullpen, retiring all three batters he faced.
Arkansas' two seniors on offense also had a big day in their final regular season home game. Vinson led the Razorbacks with three hits, including his second homer of the season, and had two RBI with three runs scored. Jacob Mahan went 1-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored.
Brian Anderson wrapped up a big weekend at the plate with a pair of extra base hits, a double and a triple, and two RBI. The sophomore finished the series against the Volunteers going 7-for-13 with a double, two triples, a homer, five RBI and five runs scored.
Brett McAfee and Jake Wise each had a pair of hits, while Jordan Farris drove in a game-high four runs.
Tennessee starting pitcher Aaron Quillen (2-4) received the loss. Quillen worked just one inning and gave up five runs on five hits with two strikeouts.
David Houser and Zach Luther each had a hit and a RBI to lead Tennessee offensively. Will Maddox, Jeff Moberg, Scott Price and A.J. Simcox also contributed one hit each.
Arkansas wasted little time jumping on the Volunteer starter, scoring five runs in the bottom of the first. Joe Serrano started the home half of the first with a double and then scored on Vinson's RBI single to center field. After the next two batters were retired, Vinson stole second and Tyler Spoon drew a walk to put runners on first and second. A base hit to left by Mahan plated Vinson for the second run of the inning. After an infield single by Wise loaded the bases, Farris landed the big blow of the inning with a bases-clearing, three-RBI double to left field, giving the Razorbacks a 5-0 lead.
The Razorbacks added another run in the third on a bases-loaded walk to Farris, his fourth RBI of the game.
Arkansas stretched the lead to 8-0 with two runs in the fourth, both coming on a two-RBI double by Anderson to the right-center field alley.
The Razorbacks brought home another run in the sixth on Vinson's leadoff homer, his second round-tripper of the season, to make the score 9-0.
Tennessee avoided the shutout with a run in the top of the eighth as Houser singled into left field to score Simcox.
Arkansas answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the eighth on a sacrifice fly to left by Jacob Morris, scoring Anderson from third base.
The Volunteers closed the scoring with a run in the ninth as Luther had a pinch hit single to right-center field to score Christin Stewart. Tennessee was unable to get any closer as Arkansas recorded the 10-2 win to clinch the series.
Arkansas closes the regular season next weekend at Auburn. Game times for the final series of the regular season are set for 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday. The series finale will be televised on CST.