) – The 20th-ranked University of Arkansas baseball team (30-19, 15-11) used a 3-for-3 day from Andrew Benintendi to pick up a 5-2 victory over Tennessee (20-25, 8-18) and split the series Sunday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
Benintendi continued his Player of the Year campaign, going 3-for-3 with a double, two singles, a run batted in and a run scored to send his batting average to an SEC-best .405 on the year. He finished the series going 6-for-7 and has reached base in 29 of his last 40 plate appearances.
Arkansas jumped on Tennessee in the first inning when Serrano raced home on a wild pitch to score the first run of the game, before Eagan and Benintendi added RBI singles in the second inning to give the Razorbacks a 3-1 lead.
After the Volunteers cut the lead to 3-2 in the fifth inning, Arkansas came right back in the bottom of the frame and Brett McAfee roped a single to right center to plate Benintendi and create a two-run lead. Rick Nomura blasted his fourth homer of the year in the sixth inning to give the Razorbacks a 5-2 advantage that held true to the final out.
Keaton McKinney (5-1) picked up the win, lasting 4.2 innings and giving up two runs on three hits, while striking out two. He retired nine of the first 12 Tennessee hitters in the game, including nine straight at one point. Dominic Taccolini came on in relief and stranded the tying run at third base in the fifth inning before working 2.1 hitless frames with one strikeout to earn his first save of the year.
The Razorbacks have not dropped an SEC series over the last seven weekends, posting a record of 14-6 during the stretch with one conference weekend remaining in the regular season.
Before first pitch, Arkansas honored seniors Jackson Lowery, Jacob Stone, Krisjon Wilkerson, Lance Phillips and Joe Serrano as they played their final regular season games at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas returns to action Tuesday evening, traveling to Omaha, Nebraska to take on Creighton at TD Ameritrade Park. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
Arkansas Head Coach Dave Van Horn on Andrew Benintendi:
“His season has been great. Obviously for a month now, he has been on fire. Whether you are right or left handed, he is taking good swings. In his first at-bat, he fouls off four or five pitches then gets a base hit. When it's going good, it's going good. He check swings against a lefty on the first pitch, gets fooled a little bit and ends up laying down a perfect bunt and we score a run. His last at-bat was a good at-bat. The guy tried to work him way away then tried to bust him in; he got just enough of the barrel on it to hook it down that right field line for a double which ended up being a huge run for us at the time.”
Coach Van Horn on Joe Serrano:
“It's always good to get a win, especially when it's senior day. We've had senior day for a couple of days now and we finally got to do it today and play the game. Joe's first pitch he saw today, he singled to right field and ended up scoring the first run of the game. He has played a lot of games here over his four years. I'm proud of him and all the older kids who have gone through, working toward those degrees.”
- Has reached base in 22 straight games and has hit safely in 20 of those contests.
- Is eight for his last nine, including back-to-back three-hit performances.
- Only has one strikeout in his last 40 plate appearances.
- Is the only .400 or better hitter in the SEC with a .405 batting average on the year.
- Leads the SEC in on base percentage (.500), total bases (132) and home runs (16).
- Leads the nation with a .763 slugging percentage.