No. 4 Tennessee got a three-run home run from Max Ferguson in the bottom of the ninth to take an 8-7 win over top-ranked Arkansas.
The Hogs lead 7-5 entering the bottom of the ninth. Ryan Costeiu, who had struck out four of the five hitters he faced, was replaced with Jaxon Wiggins in the ninth. After two walks to start the inning, Ferguson hit the home run to end it.
For the second day in a row Tennessee jumped on Arkansas for a big first inning. On Saturday the Volunteers got two runs. Liam Spence hit a ground-rule double to start the inning. Max Ferguson bunted down the first base line and Arkansas’ Peyton Pallette had trouble getting it out of his glove. His toss to Brady Slavens at first was ruled an out, but then it was overturned with Ferguson safe following a review. Jake Rucker then singled to score Spence. With one out, Evan Russell hit a sacrifice fly to deep center that plated Ferguson for a 2-0 lead after an inning.
Luc Lipcius walked to start the bottom of the fourth. He eventually scored on a single by Connor Pavolony for a 3-0 lead. That single led to Dave Van Horn replacing Pallette with Caleb Bolden.
The Razorbacks were held hitless the first five innings. But in the top of the sixth, Cullen Smith singled off Tennessee’s Will Heflin. Braydon Webb, who struck out his first two times at bat, then followed with a blast over the fence in left field field to the Hogs within 3-2. Christian Franklin then tied it at 3 with a home run over the fence in left center.
In the top of the seventh, Casey Opitz got an infield single with one out. He then stole second. Jalen Battles then doubled to right field to plate Opitz for a 4-3 lead. Smith and Webb then had back-to-back bunt singles with Battles scoring on the one by the leadoff hitter. Webb’s third RBI gave the Razorbacks a 5-3 lead.
Tennessee got within one in the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run from Max Ferguson off Bolden. It was just the second hit off Bolden. The Vols added another solo home run in the bottom of the eighth when Jordan Beck hit a shot off Ryan Costeiu, who otherwise struck out the side.
In the top of the eighth, Franklin was hit by pitch to start inning. With two outs and Franklin on second, a wild pitch allowed him to get to third. Opitz then hit one that was ruled an error on the Tennessee third baseman, but it allowed Franklin to score for a 6-4 lead.
Pallette worked 3.1 innings, allowed three runs (two earned), six hits, one walk, two strikeouts, faced 18 hitters, threw 58 pitches and 37 was strikes. Bolden was excellent in relief. He worked 3.1 innings, allowed three hits, allowed a run (earned) struck out one, faced 12 hitters, threw 47 pitches and 32 were strikes. Costeiu came in to replace Bolden. Costeiu worked 1.1 innings, allowed a hit, one run (earned), four strikeouts, faced five hitters, threw 20 pitches and 15 went for strikes.
Will Heflin worked six innings for the Vols. He allowed three hits, a trio of runs (all earned), walked one, hit a batter and struck out six. Kirby Connell replaced him to start the seventh. Camden Sewell replaced Connell after he pitched 0.1 inning and ran into trouble. Redmond Walsh came into the game in the top of the eighth after Sewell hit Franklin to start the inning.
Arkansas (38-10, 18-8) and Tennessee (39-12, 18-8) will play the final game of the series at noon on Sunday.