Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Diamond Hogs dropped by homer in 10th
Arkansas Friday, May 13, 2022, during the inning of play against Vanderbilt at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville. Visit nwaonline.com/220514Daily/ for the photo gallery.
FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas trailed by five runs in the early innings for the second consecutive conference opener on Friday against No. 21 Vanderbilt.
Again the No. 4 Razorbacks caught up, but unlike last week at No. 18 Auburn they could not blow past the Commodores and paid for it.
Enrique Bradfield Jr. slashed a three-run home run inside the right-field foul pole off Brady Tygart in the top of the 10th inning and the Commodores hung on to take a 9-6 win before a crowd of 11,772 at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Tygart (2-3), working in his third inning, had not allowed a home run all season, and only two extra-base hits. But he hung a 1-2 breaking ball and Bradfield smacked it for his seventh homer of the year.
The Razorbacks (36-13, 16-9 SEC) rallied from their 5-0 deficit through three innings to forge a tie, taking Connor Noland off the hook and pulling a potential win from Vandy freshman Devin Futrell.
Vanderbilt (33-15, 13-12) closer Thomas Schultz (4-1) worked the final three innings, allowing two-out walks in the eighth and ninth but working around them to allow no runs.
Arkansas’ lead in the SEC West dwindled to one game over Texas A&M, which rallied from a 7-4 deficit to beat Mississippi State 8-7. LSU is a game and a half back after its home game against Ole Miss was suspended due to rain with the Rebels ahead 4-2 in the third inning.
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said he praised the players for their competitive fire in fighting back from five runs down again.
“It’s a tough loss because we were down and we had a chance to win it,” he said. “I just told them they played hard. Told them to get some rest and tomorrow’s another game, a big game for us.”
Both teams hit three home runs, but Bradfield’s was the biggest. It came after Tygart walked Javier Vaz to open the inning and Parker Noland doubled off the left-field wall.
Tygart had a chance to get out of the inning unscathed. He induced a fly ball to shallow right field, then nine-hole batter Carter Young’s suicide squeeze bunt fell right in front of the plate, allowing catcher Michael Turner to quickly scoop it and tag the charging Vaz for the second out.
Tygart got ahead 0-2 before Bradfield rallied for the game-winning hit.
Futrell, making his first SEC appearance, out dueled the veteran Connor Noland. He worked out of a third inning jam with runners on second and third and one out after Cayden Wallace’s double.
Brady Slavens broke through against him in the fourth with a titanic home run that landed on top on the Hunt Center beyond the right-field fence. Slavens’ shot had a 102 mph exit velocity and was the fourth allowed by Futrell.
Connor Noland ran into trouble in the second inning by struggling to locate an out pitch. After Vaz drew a one-out walk, the designated hitter Parker Noland battled back from 0-2 and launched an opposite-field home run to left on a 2-2 count to make it 2-0. Parker Noland’s fifth home run of the season was the third allowed by Connor Noland, including in back-to-back starts.
The Commodores weren’t through. Tate Kolwyck walked and Young hit a dribbler through the right side for a single. Bradfield Jr.’s squeeze bunt plated Kolwycz, then Davis Diaz’s bloop single to center made it 4-0.
Vanderbilt stretched its margin to 5-0 in the third after Dominic Keegan drew a leadoff walk. He moved to third on Vaz’s one-out single and scored on Noland’s sacrifice fly.
The Razorbacks began their long comeback in the fourth on Slavens’ home run, a 422-foot shot that tied Braydon Webb for the team lead with 12.
Jalen Battles led off the bottom of the fifth with an opposite-field double off Futrell, who looked light he might escape after retiring the next two batters. However, Robert Moore worked a 2-2 count before launching his sixth home run over the left-field fence.
Slavens followed with an opposite-field shot to left, his team-high 13th home run, to draw the Hogs within 5-4.
Arkansas worked reliever Nick Maldonado for a tying run in the sixth but could have had much more.
Braydon Webb reached on a one-out error and scampered to third when Maldanado threw wildly on a pickoff throw. Jace Bohrofen’s single to left field made it 5-5. Battles ripped a double into the left-field corner, sending Bohrofen to third, and Cayden Wallace drew a walk to load the bases.
Vanderbilt Coach Tim Corbin called on lefty Nelson Berkwich, who engaged in a 10-pitch battle with Turner before inducing a sharp ground ball to the first baseman Keegan, who started a 3-6-3 double play to get out of the inning.
“That was the at-bat of the game when you look back,” Van Horn said. “He fought off some pitches. He missed one that hung up there, and I think he knew he should’ve got it. … You only get so many opportunities a game, especially when you’re down five runs and the next thing you know you’re tied up and have a chance to take the lead. It just didn’t happen.”
The Commodores jumped back on top in the seventh. Catcher Jack Bulger launched a shot to deep left center off Evan Taylor that hit the top of the wall for his fourth home run of the season and a 6-5 Vandy lead.
Moore led off the bottom of the inning with a routine fly ball toward the line in deep right, but Spencer Jones over-ran it and it evaded him for a double.
The Razorbacks launched into situational hitting mode, with Slavens and Chris Lanzilli delivering ground balls that moved Moore up and in to make it 6-6.
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