Eric Fisher blasted another home run to give pitcher Trey Killian some rare help as Arkansas blasted No. 11 Vanderbilt, 6-2, in the opener of the SEC series Friday night before 6,157 at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas (24-15, 8-8) staked Killian to a 4-0 lead in the first. The first run scored on a bases loaded ground out by Blake Baxendale, with Brian Anderson breaking up a double play with a hard slide at second.
Then, Fisher made it four straight SEC games with a homer with a three-run shot into the bullpen in right. The wind, usually blowing in from right at Baum, helped this one, blowing from the foul pole in left to the foul pole in right.
Killian had lost two times despite throwing complete games and had three complete games on the season. Rarely had he pitched with the lead before Friday night.
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn has made note of Killian's tough luck several times this season and reminded his club in the pre-game talk.
"I told our team to find a way to score some runs for Trey tonight," Van Horn said. "He's given us some great starts and saved our bullpen for the weekend.
"I talked about him in the post-game and everyone gave him a pat on the back. He didn't have great command of his fast ball, his best stuff. But he still did what Trey Killian always does, compete."
Van Horn said he couldn't remember one of his players cracking a home run in four straight SEC games.
"I hadn't thought about that until you guys mentioned it," Van Horn said. "I like it. I hope he can keep it going. I know he's a confident hitter right now. He's smiling a lot more."
Killian got out of the second with a strikeout, throw 'em out double play when Jake Wise gunned down Vince Conde.
The defending SEC champ Commodores (28-11, 7-9) got two unearned runs in the third. Joe Serrano let a single go under his glove to move two runners into scoring position. Then, with two outs, shortstop Michael Bernal threw low to first. Fisher tried for a scoop, but the ball bounced towards the second baseman to allow both runs to score.
In the UA third, Benintendi singled, stole second and scored on Baxendale's flare to right to push the Hogs up, 5-2.
The Hogs extended it to 6-2 in the fifth. Serrano singled, stole second and moved to third on Baxendale's infield single to the hole at shortstop. Fisher lined it deep to center for a sacrifice fly.
Killian (2-6) used two double plays to hold off Vanderbilt. He left with two outs in the seventh after loading the bases on three singles. Reliever Zach Jackson struckout Jason Delay on three pitches to end that threat.
Jackson sailed through the eighth, then gave way to closer Michael Gunn for a one-two-three ninth.
Van Horn said Killian was tiring after 98 pitches. Killian jumped off the mound and took 10 hard steps towards second base when he saw his coach take the first step out of the dugout.
"I saw that," Van Horn said. "That's Trey. He didn't want to come out. No starter wants to come out of the game.
"Those were his runners out there and he wanted to get that last out. But he was tired. They had squared up three or four balls. He knew deep down that he was tired."
Killian said, "Coach Van Horn knows what he is doing. We are lucky to have a freshman like Zach Jackson come in against No. 11 Vandy and get the job done."
Van Horn called the breaker that got Delay "big time, with hard downward break. That last pitch (in the seventh) was really good."
Jackson said there were some nerves involved, but he knew all he needed "was a ground ball with a four-run lead. I just wanted to fill up the zone."
Killian said it was "awesome" to have a lead, but that he hadn't worried about the tough losses.
"I knew tonight (with the lead) I could pitch to contact," he said.
Was it wearing on his mind to lose despite pitching well?
"No," he said. "I'm fine with it. Naturally, you want to win games, but the job is to keep your team in games. I was doing that."
Fisher said the homer came on a first pitch changeup.
"It was out over the plate and I got it down the line," he said. "In this park, that's where you want it. You hit it to center and you really have to pop it to get it over the fielder."
Fisher Powers Hogs, 6-2
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