using this pic for ARK-TENN

Junior first baseman Brady Slavens high-fives sophomore second baseman Robert Moore. The Razorbacks got the better of the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers over the weekend, with wins Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

The Razorbacks spilled out of the third base dugout Sunday afternoon, celebrating a 3-2 win over the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers. With the victory, the top-ranked Hogs have won all nine conference series they have played this year, a feat no other Southeastern Conference team has accomplished.

“What a great win for our team today,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said in Sunday’s press conference. “Some clutch hitting, advanced some people, bunted some people over and just an outstanding job by all of our pitchers today...Good series win for us on the road.”

The weekend began with a shock as the No. 4 Volunteers racked up five runs against junior lefty Patrick Wicklander in the first inning Friday night.

The Razorbacks were unfazed by the energy the full-capacity crowd brought, scoring in three of the next four frames to tie the game at five. Sophomore second baseman Robert Moore and junior first baseman Brady Slavens both mashed two-run homers, and freshman right fielder Cayden Wallace chased starter Chad Dallas from the game with an RBI single in the fifth inning.

Junior lefty Caden Monke kept the Hogs in the game with 3 ⅓ innings of scoreless relief. Monke gave way to Kopps, who picked up his eighth win of the season in three scoreless innings.

In the eighth, after Slavens had put Arkansas on top with a sacrifice fly, Kopps engaged in a 15-pitch at-bat with first baseman Luc Lipcius, finally winning the battle with a strikeout on a slider. He worked a perfect ninth to secure the 6-5 win.

Saturday’s game began in a similar fashion, with Tennessee conducting a hit parade in the first inning. Sophomore righty Peyton Pallette limited the damage to two runs, but he had no run support. Tennessee lefty Will Heflin took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, retiring the first 13 hitters of the game before issuing a walk in the fifth.

Smith led off the sixth with a single to center, bringing senior left fielder Braydon Webb up to bat for the third time. Webb pummeled a 2-1 pitch to left field, clearing the fence to cut the Volunteer lead to 3-2. Junior center fielder Christian Franklin tied it with a two-out solo homer, spoiling Heflin’s chances for a win.

The Hogs accumulated four hits and two insurance runs in the seventh, placing junior righty Caleb Bolden in line for the win. Bolden worked 3 ⅓ innings in relief, only getting burned once on a solo home run. Tennessee and Arkansas traded runs in the eighth, Franklin drove in another run with a ground rule double in the ninth and the Razorbacks had a 7-5 lead to protect.

Van Horn called on freshman righty Jaxon Wiggins to close the game after a strong starting appearance Tuesday against Arkansas State. The first batter he faced popped up, appearing to prove he was in control, but the ball fell just out of reach of a backtracking Moore.

Wiggins proceeded to walk Spence, bringing second baseman Max Ferguson to the plate as the winning run with no outs. Ferguson, who took Bolden deep in the seventh, launched a first-pitch fastball over the scoreboard in right field to walk it off, 8-7, for Tennessee.

“Wiggins had been a guy that had been closing games. We had a chance to win the series right there, so he was the obvious guy,” Van Horn said. “If we had brought in somebody else and it hadn’t gone good, we would have been second-guessing ourselves.”

In Sunday’s rubber match, senior lefty Lael Lockhart took the mound for Arkansas opposite Tennessee righty Blade Tidwell. Lockhart dazzled in his first start since May 1, working four shutout innings before yielding a run in the fifth. He struck out seven hitters, his most since March 21.

Unfortunately for Arkansas, Tidwell was every bit as good. Between the second and seventh innings, he retired 14 straight Razorbacks. Slavens snapped the streak with a double, eventually coming around to score after a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly.

The Hogs struck again in the eighth, cashing in on a leadoff walk to senior catcher Casey Opitz. Sophomore left fielder Zack Gregory came through with an RBI double, and Moore delivered his fifth RBI of the series with a single in the ninth to make it 3-1.

Kopps earned his second win in three days with a dominant display of pitching over 3 ⅔ innings. He retired the first eight hitters he faced, keeping the Razorbacks in the game and allowing them to take the lead. Even with the run allowed in the ninth, his ERA sits at 0.80.

“I don’t know what to say. He wanted the ball, he wouldn’t come out, didn’t want to come out...It was amazing,” Van Horn said.

Arkansas leads the SEC West at 19-8, two games ahead of the Mississippi State Bulldogs. With one win next week against the No. 9 Florida Gators, the Razorbacks will clinch the division. With a series win, they will win the conference.

“I haven’t talked to the team one time about winning a championship. They know. They know where we’re at,” Van Horn said. “We’re right where we want to be. We’re at the top of the standings going into the last week.”

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