FAYETTEVILLE (ArkansasRazorbacks.com) – Sophomore outfielder Joe Serrano hit a walk-off solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to lift the 19th-ranked Razorbacks to a 4-3 victory over San Diego State on Friday night at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks improve to 9-5 with the win, while the Aztecs drop to 7-7 with the loss.
With the game tied at three and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Arkansas broke a 3-3 tie with the homer by Serrano, the first of his Razorback career. Serrano sent a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left-center field to send Baum Stadium into a frenzy and lift Arkansas to the walk-off victory.
Serrano and Tyler Spoon were the offensive stars of the game with each player finishing the contest with two hits and a RBI. Spoon had the game-tying single in the bottom of the seventh, while Serrano drove in the game-winning run with his walk-off round-tripper. Spoon extended his hitting streak to 14 games with his two hits in the contest. Jacob Mahan, Brett McAfee, Willie Schwanke and Jake Wise each added a hit in the game.
Matt Munoz homered and drove in two runs to lead the Aztecs at the plate. Brad Haynal had a hit and also added a RBI.
Arkansas reliever Jalen Beeks (2-0) earned the win on the mound. Beeks entered with in the seventh with Arkansas trailing 3-2 and the bases loaded for San Diego State. He proceeded to get back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the jam and keep Arkansas only a run behind. Beeks finished the game by striking out three and giving up just one hit in 2.2 scoreless innings.
Trent Daniel also pitched well out of the Razorback bullpen. Daniel struck out four and gave up just one hit in two innings.
Justin Hepner (0-1) took the loss for the Aztecs, allowing a run on two hits and striking out two in 2.1 innings.
Neither starting pitcher factored into the decision. Arkansas starter Ryne Stanek gave up three runs on five hits and struck out five in 4.1 innings. San Diego State starter Philip Walby allowed three runs on six hits and struck out three in 6.1 innings.
The Aztecs struck first with two runs in the top of the second. With one out, Jake Romanski walked and with two outs, Munoz hit the first pitch he saw from Stanek over the right field wall to put San Diego State in front 2-0.
Arkansas answered back with two runs in the bottom of the third. Mahan drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a single to right by Serrano. With one out, Mahan and Serrano each advanced a base on a wild pitch. After a foul out to first by Brian Anderson, Willie Schwanke drew a walk. Ball four to Schwanke was in the dirt and got past the catcher, allowing Mahan to score and advancing Serrano to third. Schwanke rounded first and headed to second after the walk. The Aztec catcher threw down to second. On the throw down to second, Serrano broke for home and was able to slide in ahead of the tag at the plate to score the game-tying run.
San Diego State regained the lead with a run in the top of the fifth. Tim Zier led off the inning with a single to center. With one out, Haynal lined a double down the left field line to score Zier from first base and put the Aztecs back in front 3-2.
The Aztecs had a chance to extend the lead in the seventh, but came up empty. SDSU loaded the bases with one out, but Beeks came in and struck out pinch hitters Danny Sheehan and Steven Pallares to end the inning and keep the Razorback deficit at one.
Arkansas tied the game with a run in the bottom of the seventh. Mahan led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Serrano. A passed ball advanced Mahan to third and Spoon grounded a single past the drawn in San Diego State infield and into centerfield to tie the game at three. The score would remain tie until Serrano's heroics in the bottom of the ninth.
The series concludes on Saturday with a doubleheader scheduled. Game one of the twin bill will start at 11:35 a.m, with game two beginning approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. Arkansas will start freshman righty Trey Killian (1-1, 1.29) in game one, while San Diego State will start senior righty Ryan Doran (2-1, 3.32). Senior left hander Randall Fant (0-0, 2.25) will start in game two for the Razorbacks, while the Aztecs have not announced a starter.
Saturday's ticket is good for both games of the doubleheader. Tickets for Saturday's game are available by visiting the online ticket center at ArkansasRazorbacks.com, calling 1-800-982-HOGS (4647) or on gameday at Baum Stadium, while supplies last.