Vanderbilt Nips Hogs, 2-1

It came down to one pitch, John Norwood's two-run homer as Vanderbilt evened the series with a 2-1 victory over Arkansas on Saturday night.

Arkansas played great defense behind Jalen Beeks, but couldn't deliver the key hit as Vanderbilt made John Norwood's homer stand in a 2-1 victory to even the SEC series Saturday night before 6,731 at Baum Stadium.

Vanderbilt flipped their pitching, with closer Carson Fulmer (nine saves) pitched the first six innings in his first start. The Hogs stranded seven runners against Fulmer, eight for the game.

Blake Baxendale -- with his fourth straight two-hit game -- delivered an RBI single in the eighth off reliever Hayden Stone, but Dave Van Horn said there were no other key hits by the Razorbacks.

"We had our chances," Van Horn said. "We stranded runners. We had the bases loaded and runners at second and third against Fulmer, but he has experience as a reliever in those situations and he got out of the jams.

"Beeks really didn't have his breaking ball and he left one up for the home run. Wow. That ends up being the game."

Van Horn called Fulmer's stuff "electric. His fast ball jumps at you. He has a good hard breaker and he started using his changeup, a very good pitch, late."

Vandy coach Tim Corbin said he decided Friday to start Fulmer, but had mentioned the possibility on Monday.

"We just felt like he was the right guy to do it," Corbin said. "We were thinking about it in the middle of the week. We just were hesitating a little bit, because we were unsure what to do. And also if your'e going to make that move, you affect the thinking of the team. So we just wanted to be able to do the right thing.

"But he's a very reliable young man and he's very, very competitive. So we knew what we were going to get from him. Not necessarily shutout baseball, but we knew we'd have a chance to win if the ball was in his hand.

"He's kind of a bend but don't break kind of guy. I mean, you may find your way on base with him, but he's tough to score against. He really proved that toward the tail end of last season when we played South Carolina in the SEC Tournament and then Illinois in the regional and then even Louisville in the Super Regional. He just doesn't give in. He's a tough one to score against because he's so competitive.

Van Horn expects another tight game Sunday when Chris Oliver will try to match Vandy's Tyler Ferguson. Both are fireballers.

"Ferguson is a hard thrower, 92 to 95," Van Horn said. "He knows what he's doing. It will be a really good ball game."

Arkansas junior Joe Serrano, who scored the lone run, said it's a typical SEC series, tied 1-1.

"You don't like going to Sunday one to one, but all SEC games are close," Serrano said. "You can say every game is decided by one pitch. Tonight it was one pitch up that they hit and us not swinging it with guys in position.

"Every single game in the SEC -- except for maybe one against Alabama -- has been close, we've been in all of them. It comes down to who can execute at the right time. We are already ready for tomorrow."

Beeks said it wasn't really just one pitch up. He said he didn't have his best stuff and was boosted by some great defense.

"Joe Serrano made a great play, Michael Bernal made several nice plays," Beeks said. "I didn't think it was a great start by me and they could have gotten a lot more runs except for the defense behind me on some hard hit balls."

There was one odd play. Vandy's Karl Ellison circled the bases on what he thought was a homer that Serrano caught at the top of the wall. Ellison's teammates informed him that he made an out when he reached the dugout.

Van Horn praised Baxendale's hitting in the designated hitter spot. He stroked a double against Fulmer in his first at bat, blasting a two-strike changeup down the line in left in his first at bat.

"That first at bat, he got a mistake and hit it," Van Horn said. "It was a breaker up. And, he was on a slider to drive in the run."

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