Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn changed his Friday night formula. It was to Tennessee's liking.
After going with Zach Jackson as first out of the bullpen with a seventh inning lead, Van Horn went first with James Teague. The Volunteers rallied with three in the seventh to take a 5-4 victory in the opener of the SEC baseball series Friday night before 5,540 at Baum Stadium.
Van Horn had a simple explanation. He wasn't going to Jackson in a tie game. Teague had been warming in the fifth and sixth, then the Hogs got the lead and the Vols were at bat with not enough time to get Jackson ready.
"Teague was up when it was tied and hot," Van Horn said. "We got the lead on the home run and there wasn't enough time for Jackson. James was going to give us an inning.
"Obviously, Teague didn't have it. He faced five batters, but we didn't make a play behind him. The shortstop dropped a ball at second."
Van Horn credited the Vols.
"We didn't play good," Van Horn said. "They played better. They hit better. They fielded better. They are fighting for their lives and they battled. We had a two-run lead and let it go. Trey gave us quality innings without his best stuff."
The Hogs had won 10 of their last 12 SEC games. The Vols were coming off three straight losses to Texas A&M.
Arkansas had staked starter Trey Killian to a 4-2 lead on Tyler Spoon's two-run homer in the sixth inning. That was when Van Horn went to the bullpen for Teague, instead of his usual move for Jackson. Andrew Benintendi, who had three hits, gave the Hogs a 2-1 lead on his SEC leading 16th homer in the third.
Teague (3-3) gave up three hits and one run before Van Horn went to Jackson, the team leader in saves with five. Jackson gave up a bloop single to right to tie the game, then allowed the winning run with a wild pitch.
The Hogs (29-19 14-11) will have to win their next two to keep their streak of winning SEC series alive. They had won their last six, including a three-game sweep at Alabama last weekend.
Tennessee (20-24, 8-17) hit the ball hard all night. The Vols outhit the Hogs, 10-8, and had several shots run down for outs.
Starter Andy Cox (2-3) got the win. Closer Andy Cox, the fourth UT pitcher, got the final three outs for his eighth save.
Arkansas broke on top in the first when Joe Serrano, Benintendi and Spoon cracked three straight singles. UT answered with Nick Senzel's solo homer in the third. Benintendi stroked his 16th homer, a solo shot to right center, for a 2-1 UA lead in the third. The Hogs made it 4-2 in the sixth when Benintendi doubled and Spoon followed with a homer.
Spoon, who walked in graduation ceremonies earlier in the day, drove in three runs with two hits. He said it was a tough loss on an otherwise wonderful day.
"It was a great day for me, graduating, something I'd worked all my life to accomplish," he said. "It is still a memorable day.
"It's just definitely tough because we lost Friday night at our place. We just didn't show up. We'll be more prepared tomorrow. We can learn from tonight. We felt like we could have played better, a lot better."
Tennessee 5, Arkansas 4
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