Vanderbilt loses late lead and drops series finale to Arkansas 14-12

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Vanderbilt loses late lead and drops series finale to Arkansas 14-12

Photo by Brent Szklaruk

Photo by Brent Szklaruk

Photo by Brent Szklaruk

Photo by Brent Szklaruk

Alyssa Muir

On a windy Sunday afternoon, the Vanderbilt Commodores were unable to complete the series sweep over the Arkansas Razorbacks as they fell 14-12. After two impressive victories over the Razorbacks and a dominant performance over Middle Tennessee State this week, the team was disappointed to miss out on a sweep.

“Our goal is always to win the week so that’s a positive,” said catcher Philip Clarke. “But we’d like to win today.”

The game was far from a pitcher’s duel, with both pitching staffs struggling to find any consistency and both offenses piling on hit after hit.

The Razorbacks struck first as a leadoff double eventually turned into a run off of a blooper into left field. A second consecutive single brought in another Arkansas run, but a heads-up play by Clarke to pick off the runner at first got Patrick Raby out of the first inning jam.

The Commodores quickly got a run back with Clarke singling up the middle to bring in Austin Martin, who led off the inning with a single. Vanderbilt had a chance to do more damage in the bottom of the first but Ty Duvall flied out with the bases loaded and two outs.

Raby struggled with his control again in the second inning. The Razorbacks took advantage of three hits and a wild pitch to push the score to 3-1 but Raby got a big strikeout to end the inning and strand a runner on third.

The bats really came alive for the Commodores in the bottom of the second. The team sent all nine batters to the plate and scored five runs. Julian Infante led off the inning with a home run to left field, his fifth of the season. Three more hits and two walks led to four more Commodore runs and brought the score to 6-3.

Arkansas brought in reliever Patrick Wicklander in the third inning to try to stop the Vanderbilt offense but Infante led off the inning with his second home run of the game, a towering shot to left field.

The Razorbacks responded with a home run of their own and Coach Tim Corbin decided to replace Raby on the mound with Hugh Fisher after he walked a batter. Fisher struggled as well, giving up two hits and surrendering two more runs. The Commodores lead was down to 7-6 at the end of the fourth inning.

Fisher’s struggles continued in the fifth inning. Arkansas led off the inning with a double and Fisher walked another batter, setting up a hard-hit single for Trevor Ezell that drove in two runs and put the Razorbacks ahead 8-7.

Refusing to go away, Vanderbilt took the lead back off of a bases loaded walk and a Harrison Ray sacrifice fly.

Vanderbilt got a brief period of somewhat steady pitching with reliever Jake Eder, who got himself into jams in the sixth and seventh inning but did not allow runs in either, keeping the score at 9-8 in favor of Vanderbilt.

Clarke added to the Commodore lead in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run homer, his fifth and sixth runs batted in of the game.

Unfortunately for the Commodores, however, their pitching woes returned as the Razorbacks added one run off of Eder in the eighth and then two more in the ninth off Tyler Brown to tie the game. It got even worse for Vanderbilt as Jacob Nesbit doubled in another run to push the Razorbacks ahead 12-11. Arkansas added two more insurance runs off a Casey Obitz single and Kiambu Fentress error in left field.

Then came the bottom of the ninth, and Martin was not about to let the Commodores go away quietly. He hit a leadoff home run to finish his day four-for-four form the plate. JJ Bleday grounded out but Ethan Paul and Clarke both drew walks to put the tying runs on base and force an Arkansas pitching change.

The Vanderbilt rally died there, however, as both Ray and pinch-hitter Cooper Davis struck out.

Pitching issues were the story of the game for Vanderbilt as they gave up twenty-two hits and all four pitchers struggled to find any consistency. The Commodores have now lost four of their five Sunday games in SEC series.

“I don’t think there is anything to attribute to it [the losses on Sundays],” said Clarke. “I just think that we’ve had some tough games and we haven’t come out like we would like to, but I think it will be fine.”

With this loss, Vanderbilt moves to 27-9 on the season. The team plays again on Tuesday, April 16 at 6:30 when they host Indiana State.

“We’ve got to be greedy,” said Corbin. “Every game means something. You’re only as good as today, that’s it.”

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