Arkansas baseball wins share of SEC regular season title, falls at Vanderbilt
The Razorbacks are 2023 SEC champions.
Despite a 7-6 loss in the series finale against No. 12 Vanderbilt (37-17, 20-11 SEC), No. 2 Arkansas (39-15, 20-10 SEC) secured its fourth regular-season SEC championship on Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Field. The Razorbacks split the title with No. 4 Florida (42-13, 20-10 SEC) after both teams finished the season with an SEC-leading 20 wins.
Arkansas clinched its second SEC title in the last three seasons and its fourth in school history (1999, 2004, 2021 and 2023). The Razorbacks also won their eighth SEC West title, four of which have come since 2018. Dave Van Horn has led the program to seven division championships and its last three SEC titles since becoming head coach in 2003.
For the third day in a row, Arkansas scored first against Vanderbilt, breaking through for a pair of runs in the top of the second. The two-run advantage would not last long, however, as the Commodores benefitted from a go-ahead three-run home run in the bottom half of the frame off Razorback starter Hunter Hollan, who went 2 2/3 innings on Saturday.
Vanderbilt extended its lead to 4-2 in the third, but Arkansas would put up a four-spot in the top of the fifth to regain its second two-run advantage of the ballgame. The Hogs put together a rally with RBI singles from Kendall Diggs, Brady Slavens and Peyton Holt as well as an RBI groundout from Caleb Cali, opening a 6-4 lead after five innings in Nashville.
In relief of Hollan, veteran right-hander Will McEntire provided stability with his 2 1/3 scoreless innings of work. The Bryant, Ark., native allowed just one hit and issued one free pass while striking out a pair of Commodore batters.
With McEntire out of the ballgame in the bottom of the sixth, Vanderbilt’s offense came back to life and scored three consecutive one-out runs. By the inning’s end, the Commodores had retaken a 7-6 lead.
The Razorbacks stranded a runner on base in the top of the seventh and left two more on in the top half of the eighth, failing to capitalize on several late-game scoring opportunities en route to their 7-6 loss in the series finale.
Offensively, Slavens led the charge with three hits and raised his season slash line to .303/.368/.546 in the process. Holt, meanwhile, went 2-for-4 with an RBI, collecting his fifth consecutive multi-hit game.
Arkansas is the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament and will play its first game on Wednesday, May 24, at The Hoover Met. The Hogs play the winner of Tuesday’s single-elimination game between seventh-seeded Tennessee and 10th-seeded Texas A&M.
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