5-run first dooms Vols

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (UT Release) – A five-run first inning by No. 14 Arkansas spoiled any hopes Tennessee had of claiming a series victory on Sunday as the Razorbacks cruised to a 10-2 victory at Baum Stadium.

“It’s just the lack of consistency that we’ve had throughout the year that has continued to haunt us and it did again [today], “UT head coach Dave Serrano said. “I don’t know if this happened, but it was like we threw a party because we were so successful on Friday night for the first time in a long time on a Friday and then the game got hard Saturday and Sunday.

“It got away from us early when they scored some runs, but never to the point where you could say it is over with even though they have a great pitching staff. We’ve pinned ourselves in a corner now, we only have ourselves to blame. I’ve said that for a long time and I’m included in that. We still have a chance [to make the SEC Tournament] and that is all I can ask for.”

Five Arkansas pitchers, including three seniors on Senior Day, combined to hold the Volunteers to just two runs on six hits in the series finale. Senior southpaw Randall Fant improved to 5-1 on the season with 6.1 shutout innings in which he allowed just two hits and three walks while striking out five.

David Houser and Zach Luther had UT’s only RBIs in the game with pinch-hit, run-scoring singles in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. A.J. Simcox also reached twice in the contest with a single and a walk and scored one of the team’s two runs.

Tennessee used four pitchers – three freshmen and a sophomore – in the contest with Aaron Quillen suffering the loss after yielding five runs on five hits in the game’s first inning. Sophomore right-hander Eric Martin gave the Big Orange two solid innings of relief, allowing just one run on three hits.

Arkansas wasted little time jumping out to a commanding lead, needing just four pitches to get on the scoreboard as Joe Serrano opened the bottom of the first with a double and Matt Vinson singled him home shortly after. Quillen would buckle down to strike out the next two batters but a walk, two singles and a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double quickly made it a 5-0 deficit for the Vols.

The Razorbacks added another run to its lead in the bottom of the third as a leadoff single came around to score after three walks by the Vols. UT escaped further damage though as a bouncer back to the mound started an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play.

Arkansas continued to apply the pressure with two more runs in the fourth and a single tally in the sixth to push its lead to 9-0. Tennessee finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the eighth as A.J. Simcox, Scott Price and David Houser strung together three consecutive two-out singles with Houser’s base hit bringing Simcox in from second.

The Razorbacks got that run back with a triple and a sacrifice fly in the home half of the inning before calling on closer Colby Suggs to close out the contest. He would strike out two in the frame but also gave up a two-out, pinch hit RBI single to Luther to put the final tally on the scoreboard at 10-2.

Tennessee will return to Rocky Top to close out the 2013 regular season with a four-game homestand this week, starting with a 6 p.m. showdown against Morehead State on Tuesday. The Vols will then welcome SEC newcomer Texas A&M to Lindsey Nelson Stadium, May 16-18.

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