Video highlights: Tennessee vs. Arkansas, May 12, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas’ highly-touted pitching staff flexed its muscle Saturday night, and that wasn’t good news for Tennessee.
The Vols couldn’t get the big hit early when they needed it most and the 14th-ranked Razorbacks broke the game open against Tennessee’s bullpen in an 11-1 victory in front of 9,639 at Baum Stadium.
A night after Tennessee scored eight runs on 13 hits in the series-opening victory, Arkansas right-hander Ryne Stanek (7-2) worked seven scoreless innings, striking out nine and walking two, lowering his ERA in SEC games to 1.10. The Vols didn’t score until the eighth inning and were just 2-for-17 with runners on base.
“We weren’t good offensively,” Tennessee coach Dave Serrano said. “Obviously, Stanek is a really good pitcher with All
American-type stuff, first round draft-type stuff. But I thought early on he gave us a chance and we didn’t take advantage of it.”
The loss puts Tennessee (20-27, 7-17 SEC) behind Missouri in the battle for the final spot in the SEC tournament with four league games remaining. The top 12 teams, based on winning percentage, advance to Hoover, Ala., and Missouri (.308 SEC winning percentage) moved into the 12th spot after its 9-7 victory over Alabama on Saturday.
The Vols (.292), looking for their first SEC tournament berth since 2007, hold the No. 13 spot.
After Sunday’s series finale, Tennessee closes the SEC season next weekend at home against Texas A&M. Missouri (16-29, 8-18) closes out conference play next week at home against Kentucky.
“Tonight was huge and it got away from us,” Serrano said. “(Sunday) makes it even bigger with Missouri winning (Saturday).
“I’m not going to lie, I watch that stuff. It’s important to me to get this program to Hoover even if it is as the last seed going in. This program hasn’t done that in a while and I hope I have 32 guys in that dugout with the same mentality as I have.”
Tennessee starter Nick Williams (2-4) gave up three runs, two earned runs and five hits, in 2 2/3 innings as Arkansas built a 3-0 lead.
Andy Cox relieved Williams in the third and Arkansas went on to score two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth and led 8-0.
“It just wasn’t Nick Williams’ night,” Serrano said. “His pitch count went up real high and he didn’t have command of his breaking ball or fastball and made it very difficult. But he kept us in the game at 3-0.
“We were still in the game and we went to the bullpen and we didn’t have anyone who wanted to step up in this atmosphere. To me, this is a great atmosphere to pitch in and we didn’t have that mentality tonight and that’s why we got hurt in the end.”
A two-run home run by Brian Anderson off Cox in the fourth gave Arkansas a 5-0 lead.
The Razorbacks had their leadoff man reach in four of the first five innings.
Tennessee’s lone run came in the eighth when Jeff Moberg was hit by a pitch and scored two outs later on a double from Vincent Jackson. Christin Stewart went 2-for-2 and Scott Price was 2-for-4 to lead the Vols offensively.
“Early in the game, I really couldn’t throw my fastball for a strike. Everything was up,” Stanek said. “As soon as I got a little bit tired, started calming down, and I was able to locate my fastball a little better, it got a lot better because I was able to throw my slider, curveball and my changeup for a strike today.”
Anderson was 4-for-4 with three RBI, including the home run.
“I thought we played extremely well,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “Offensively we had a chance to break it open, and Stanek pitched well.”
Rick Harvey is a freelance contributor.