No. 1 Arkansas defeated No.4 Tennessee 3-2 on Sunday to take the series and now have a two-game lead in the SEC West with three to play.
The Hogs got an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Robert Moore doubled to allow Brady Slavens to score from second. Slavens had singled to start the inning. The two-run lead was all Kevin Kopps needed. He worked the final 3.2 innings of the game to get the win and move to 9-0 on the season. Kopps allowed two hits, one run (earned), struck out four, faced 13 hitters, threw 59 pitches with 38 for strikes.
Arkansas didn’t score in the first inning in this entire series, but came close on Sunday. With one out, Matt Goodheart walked. Cayden Wallace followed with a double off the fence. But with runners on second and third with one out, Slavens hit a fly to right field. Goodheart tagged and tried to score on the fly out, but was tagged out at the plate.
The Vols got on the scoreboard first when Max Ferguson grounded out with the bases loaded and one out. On the groundout, Pete Derkay scored giving Tennessee a 1-0 lead after five innings.
In the top of the seventh, the Hogs got some offense going. Slavens doubled with one out. He advanced to third on a wild pitch. Christian Franklin then walked. Moore hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Slavens to score to tie the game at 1. Franklin stole second and went to third when the throw from the catcher sailed into center field. But the Hogs were unable to get Franklin in.
The Hogs finally got Tennessee starter Blade Tidwell out of game in the top of the eighth after 103 pitches. He walked Casey Opitz to start the inning. Jalen Battles sacrificed him to second. Then Zack Gregory doubled to plate Opitz for a 2-1 lead. Tidwell (6-3) took the loss.
The Vols got one run in the bottom of the ninth off Kopps, but still came up just short in the game.
Lael Lockhart got the start for the Hogs. He worked 4.1 innings, allowed one run (earned), four hits, walked one, seven strikeouts, faced 18 hitters, threw 76 pitches with 50 strikes. Caden Monke replaced him but couldn’t find the strike zone and was replaced after five pitches. Zebulon Vermillion replaced Monke. Vermillion worked one inning. He allowed one hit, struck out a hitter, walked a batter, pitched to five hitters, threw 20 pitches and 13 were strikes.
Tidwell pitched 7.0 innings, allowed two runs on a pair of hits. He walked four and struck out eight. Tennessee also sent Sean Hunley and Redmond Walsh to mound.
Arkansas (39-10, 19-8) will be at home Thursday night to host Florida at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network.