For the first time since joining the league, Arkansas has won the SEC Tournament with a 7-2 victory over Tennessee.
Arkansas’ offense was slow starting on Sunday, but the Hogs finally got to starter Will Heflin in the top of the fifth. Cullen Smith walked, Casey Opitz singled and then Jalen Battles also singled to late Smith. Zack Gregory singled to plate Opitz and get Battles to third, but after a review Gregory was called out at second. Matt Goodheart then hit a sacrifice fly to get Battles in for a 3-1 lead.
Tennessee got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of one. After Jaxon Wiggins struck out the first two hitters, the Vols got a double from Jake Rucker and then a single by Drew Gilbert for a 1-0 lead. Wiggins struck out three hitters in the first inning.
It appeared the Vols might add to the lead in the bottom of the second. After getting two outs, Wiggins walked the No. 8 and 9 hitters in the lineup. Liam Spence singled to load the bases. But then Wiggins got the next hitter out to end the inning with the Vols leaving the bases loaded.
In the top of the seventh, Battles hits a solo home run over the fence in left field for a 4-1 advantage.
Arkansas went to Kevin Kopps to pitch starting the seventh inning. Vols designated hitter Pete Derkay greeted him with a solo home run to pull within 4-2. Kopps worked 3.0 innings.
The Hogs added a fifth run in the top of the eighth when Robert Moore reached on a fielder’s choice plating Cayden Wallace. Wallace was hit by pitch and went to third on a single by Charlie Welch. Moore then scored when Smith hit a two-run shot over the fence.
Wiggins worked 3.1 innings, allowed four hits, one run (earned), two walks, struck out five, faced 17 hitters, threw 62 pitches and 40 were strikes. Ryan Costeiu pitched 1.1 inning in relief and allowed a hit. Lael Lockhart worked one inning and struck out one. Costeiu (8-2) gets the win. Kopps earned his 10th save.
Battles had three hits while Welch added two. Smith and Battles each knocked in two runs. Battles was named the tournament MVP.
Arkansas (46-10) wins both the regular season and tournament championship in the SEC.