BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Vanderbilt lefty pitcher Carter Holton fired a two-hit shutout Sunday afternoon in what turned into a No. 24 Commodores’ series-clinching 5-0 win over No. 4 Arkansas at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Holton (7-3) went the distance in the seven-inning contest, fanning five and walking four and only allowing a hit each to Cayden Wallace and Robert Moore.
“He was outstanding and we didn’t do much with him,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “We hit a couple of balls hard, but the wind kind of knocked them down.
“But we didn’t do much up and down the line up and that is a credit to him.”
The win gave Vanderbilt its second win in the three-game set after winning 9-6 on Friday night and Arkansas taking an 11-6 win Sunday morning in the completion of Saturday night’s weather-suspended game.
The weekend results dropped Arkansas (37-14, 17-10) into a first-place tie in the SEC West with Texas A&M, who owns the tiebreaker with the Razorbacks by virtue of taking two of three games earlier this season in College Station.
Van Horn is not a fan of seven-inning games, but that is a rule when you have to play a resumed game earlier the same day.
“I don’t like ’em,” Van Horn said. “Baseball’s nine innings. If you don’t want to watch ’em, go do something else.”
It took just under three hours to get the third game going Sunday after a weather delay halted what was supposed to be a 12:45 p.m. start.
“I thought the crowd was awesome today, staying through the delay,” Van Horn said.
But Arkansas’ bats didn’t stay around.
“It’s pretty weird when you get a game delayed and you are winning it and momentum’s your way,” Van Horn said of Saturday’s contest. “But I thought we did a great job coming out this morning an just pounding them as far as hitting the ball hard and scored three runs there and put that game away.
“Then we get another delay and I am thinking ‘I don’t think this delay is going to help us because we had a little momentum and we were going to start playing in 40 minutes and then we sit around for three hours.”
Arkansas starter Jackson Wiggins (6-2) got the loss in the nightcap after going 4 1/3 innings while fanning eight, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits with one walk and one hit batter.
He threw 85 pitches with 50 of them for strikes.
The lone early run came in third inning against and was an unearned tally.
Jack Bulger singled with one out and raced to third on an error by Arkansas first baseman Brady Slavens.
Dominic Keegan then brought the run home with a sacrifice fly.
“I thought Wiggins threw the ball pretty well,” Van Horn said. “Really did a nice job for us, but we didn’t do anything for him.”
Keegan made it 3-0 in the fifth when his two-out single off reliever Evan Taylor plated Enrique Bradfield, Jr., and Bulger.
Bradfield, whose three-run homer in the 10th was the game-winning blow Friday night, hd eight hits and stole four bases on the weekend to move to 40 for 40 in attempts this season.
“He killed us,” Van Horn said. “It was pretty obvious.”
Tate Kolwyck then put the game away in the sixth when he blasted Taylor’s pitch over the left field wall for a two -run blast and a 5-0 advantage.
The Razorbacks finished off game two with Will McEntire pitching three innings of one-hit baseball to pick up his first save.
“That was our plan when we left last night,” Van Horn said of pitching McEntire.
Saturday night’s game was stopped in the bottom of the sixth inning due to weather with Arkansas having rallied from a 5-1 deficit to take an 8-6 lead.
Wallace hit a solo home run in the first and a three-run opposite field shot in the fourth.
“What I really like to see from Cayden is him driving the ball to right field,” Van Horn said of the lefty-swinging Wallace. “…It’s good to see him go the other way because he can pull the ball when he needs to.”
Jalen Battles added a two-run shot on Sunday morning in the seventh after Zack Gregory was hit by the day’s first pitch and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
It was Vandy’s 10th shutout of the year and Arkansas’ first home series loss since 2019.
The Razorbacks should still be in line to host an NCAA Regional after it visits Alabama next Thursday for a three-game series and then plays in the SEC Tournament.
“We still have a lot to play for,” Van Horn said.