Fair and square: 3 HRs, 2 off foul pole, boost Hogs

By: Bob Holt
Published: Monday, May 15, 2017
Jake Arledge (15) and Eric Cole (8) congratulate Grant Koch after Koch hit a home run in Arkansas' 7-1 win over Vanderbilt on Sunday May 14, 2017 at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Jake Arledge (15) and Eric Cole (8) congratulate Grant Koch after Koch hit a home run in Arkansas' 7-1 win over Vanderbilt on Sunday May 14, 2017 at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The 16th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks played their final regular-season home game Sunday, but it might not be their last appearance at Baum Stadium in 2017.

The Razorbacks (37-14, 16-10) beat Vanderbilt 7-1 and have put themselves in contention to be among 16 NCAA regional hosts if they add to their victory total at Texas A&M this weekend and in the SEC Tournament.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville took care of business against Vanderbilt, coming from behind to win 4-3 on Friday, and bouncing back from a 6-2 loss Saturday night to win the series before an announced crowd of 5,328.

"I hope it's not our last game here," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "It's a great place to play.

"Our fans showed up again this year. It would be awfully nice if we could host a regional here."

Arkansas beat Missouri State in a super regional in 2015 at Baum Stadium, but they Razorbacks haven't hosted a regional since 2010.

"I don't want the players to get all worried about it," Van Horn said. "We're just going to keep trying to win every inning we play and win games.

"We can control it by winning, but if we don't win enough games, I'm sure they'll give it to someone else."

Arkansas is 26-6 at Baum Stadium this season.

"We don't think we're going to get beat at home," catcher Grant Koch said. "That's just how it is.

"We know the odds of us winning are a lot better here. We've got to win right now so we can play here."

Koch hit a two-run home run in the first inning off Vanderbilt starter Chandler Day (7-2) to put the Razorbacks ahead 2-0.

"I think it was the biggest swing of the day," Van Horn said. "It gave us a good feeling."

The Razorbacks felt even better in the sixth inning when center fielder Dominic Fletcher and first baseman Chad Spanberger each hit home runs off the right-field foul pole against Maddux Conger to push Arkansas' lead to 7-1.

"That was insane," Koch said. "That's cool to see honestly."

Van Horn said he'd never has seen two foul-pole home runs in the same inning, and couldn't remember seeing it happen twice in a game.

"You hit two balls off the foul pole in one inning, that's a sign things are going your way," Van Horn said. " Sometimes you make things go your way by showing up with the right attitude and coming out and getting after it and not getting down by what happened last night."

Vanderbilt (30-21, 13-13) won 6-2 Saturday night after Arkansas won 4-3 Friday night.

"We pretty much got it struck to us last night," Van Horn said. "Today we flipped it a little bit."

Arkansas pitchers Dominic Taccolini (4-0) and Jake Reindl combined to hold down Vanderbilt.

Taccolini, a senior who hadn't pitched since April 14 against Georgia because of a sore right forearm, went 4 2/3 innings. He allowed a home run by Julian Infante in the second inning among three hits.

"I was just hoping he would give us four innings and have us be in the game," Van Horn said. "I'm proud of him for hanging in there."

Reindl pitched 4 1/3 innings for his third save. He allowed 3 hits and 1 walk with 6 strikeouts.

Koch said Taccolini and Reindl "both were at their best" Sunday.

"Especially how Dom came out after not throwing in a while," Koch said. "He did an unreal job."

The Razorbacks improved to 14-0 this season when Taccolini pitches, including a 13-10 victory at Louisiana Tech when he allowed 7 runs in two-thirds of an inning.

"I think I'm the lucky charm," Taccolini said with a laugh.

Taccolini is the third different pitcher the Razorbacks have used in the third game of an SEC series this season -- along with Josh Alberius and Kacey Murphy -- and Van Horn said he might get another chance at Texas A&M.

"We're trying to find that third starter," Van Horn said. "Maybe he can be the guy. He has experience.

"He's old and been around. It's time for him to step it up and he really did today."

Arkansas won its first SEC series since sweeping Georgia a month ago.

"It kind of gets that out of the way where we don't have to worry about it and hear people talk about it," Van Horn said. "Now we can just move on and get ready for Texas A&M."

Sports on 05/15/2017

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