Arkansas Senior Makes Good Decisions

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas senior third baseman Clay Goodwin used a combination of brawn and brains to get the job done Friday night.

His continuing ability to hit in the clutch and two critical fielding decisions in the ninth inning were huge.

As a result, No. 14 Arkansas held off Vanderbilt 6-5 on a pleasantly warm night in front of 6,871 fans in Baum Stadium.

"He made two nice plays over there at third," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "He's been in the heat of the battle a lot when the game's on the line. Nine times out of 10, he's going to get the job done."

"He's a good player."

Goodwin, who's got a 1.000 fielding percentage in Southeastern Conference games, was involved in two of the most dramatic moments in a nervous ninth.

Vanderbilt's Bill Kleinschroft slapped a slow roller to third and stood at the plate as Goodwin scooped it up and threw to first for the second out of the inning.

Vandy coach Tim Corbin argued briefly and Kleinschroft, still standing at the plate, looked stunned.

"They say the ball hit him but I didn't see it hit anything," Goodwin said. "I think he just didn't run it out."

Anton Richardson followed Kleinschroft by getting an RBI single.

Rucker Taylor follow by bunting a one-strike pitch down the third base line when Goodwin watched helplessly.

Still, he kind of figured the ball might roll foul.

It did.

Taylor eventually reached base after being hit by a pitch."I get a lot of work out there in that infield and I know it pretty well," Goodwin said. "Really, I had no chance so there was no use in going after it cause there was no way.

"I was just hoping it would go foul."

When he wasn't making good decisions at third, Goodwin was making good decisions at the plate.

Goodwin went 2 for 4 and drove in two runs to give him 28 RBIs for the season.

He had an RBI single in the first inning and duplicated that by driving in another run with a base hit in the third inning.

"Oh man, he came through big," said Razorbacks designated hitter Clint Arnold. "Goody is as solid as a rock over there at third base. He came through and you can always rely on him.

"He's money over there."

Clearly, the switch-hitting Goodwin has improved his stock in recent weeks.

In the SEC home-opening series against Mississippi State late last month, Goodwin started slipping out of his abbreviated offensive coma.

He came into that series hitting only .234. When the series ended, the suddenly steady senior elevated his average to .281 after going 5-for-9 with 3 RBIs at the plate.

On Wednesday night, Goodwin, who's second on the team in the multiple RBI games (8), had a season-high three hits in a 7-4 win against Northern Colorado.

"That's what it's all about this time of year," Goodwin. "We're going to have to get timely hitting and drive in runs. If we are going to score runs, we're going to have to do that.

"We're going to try and keep it up."

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