Minutes before taking the field, Arkansas freshman Ben Tschepikow jumps into the middle of the team's pregame huddle and does a little dance which is more spastic shaking than a jig. It's meant to loosen the team up.
"I just do that to try to get (the starters) going," Tschepikow said. "Have a little fun and put a smile on their face to get them laughing and hyped up for the game."
Well, Tschepikow finally made a tangible contribution by looping a 10th-inning RBI single into left field to lift the No. 14 Razorbacks to a 5-4 win against Vanderbilt in front of 7,712 in Baum Stadium.
The count was 1-2 on Tschepikow, a defensive substitution in the 10th who was 2 for 13 before the at-bat. Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn thought about pinch hitting for Tschepikow, but the Fayetteville native had been swinging a hot bat as of late in batting practices.
"He did what we teach them to do with two strikes," Van Horn said. "He battled, put the bat on the ball and maybe something good will happen and it did. I'm proud of him for taking the right approach and giving us a chance to win the game."
Hogs slugger Jake Dugger, whose two-out double down the left-field line kept the inning alive, threw both hands into the air with authority as he crossed home plate and fell into a swarm of rejoicing Razorbacks (26-6).
"I was sky high," Dugger said. "This puts us right back in it. We're 6-5 (in Southeastern Conference play) and we're going to come out and try to sweep them (today).
"The main thing is we didn't quit. I'm proud of our whole team because we wanted it more than they did ... That's what it comes down to."
Another unfamiliar hero emerged on the mound late for the Razorbacks in sophomore Josh Smith, a hard-throwing right-hander who's struggled with command of his breaking pitch in previous outings.
Smith allowed no runs on three hits to hold the Commodores (20-9, 5-6) in check for the final four innings and pick up his first collegiate victory.
"I was a little more confident," Smith said. "I was able to get a breaking pitch over (for a strike) after ironing some things out in my mechanics because that's been a problem."
Arkansas trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth when John Henry Marquardt ripped a two-run single to left field to tie the score at 4-all and send it into the extra inning.
Chris Hollensworth, who entered as a pinch runner for Clay Goodwin at second base prior to Marquardt's hit, would have been nailed at the plate had Vanderbilt left fielder Stephen Shao's throw not sailed wide to the third base side.
"If (the throw) was going to be right on the money he was going to be out, but we had to send him right there," Van Horn said. "We talked about it in the bottom of the ninth that this is a game that we're going to come back and steal, we just need to find a way to tie it and we did."
By stealing the win, Van Horn was referring to the fact that his team was outhit 13-8 and committed three errors to Vanderbilt's one.
"I guess in a way it makes up for us losing that game two weeks ago (in a 5-3 loss) against Mississippi State when we just needed one more out (to win in the ninth)," Van Horn said. "I've been on the other end of this and I know how they feel ... It's hard, but if you play enough games during the season, you're bound to have one or two where you come back and win a game.
"We found a way. They outhit us and they outplayed us, but we put together two innings back-to-back to beat them."
Tschepikow Dances Hogs To Win
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Cats Picked To Win SEC CrownThe voters at SEC Media Days are convinced: Kentucky has reloaded.
AllWildcatsWednesday at 10:13 AM
Arkansas On Game Days | Tailgate TravelsAs much fun as it is being at an Arkansas football game, the pregame can be just as enjoyable, especially if you have an RV. Head out to Fayetteville to see what makes the…
Scout CFBFriday at 9:20 AM
"They Are Playing Really Good Football"Arkansas Coaches Bret Bielema and Dan Enos talk about facing Auburn this weekend and the challenges that presents for the Razorbacks.
Inside The AU TigersWednesday at 9:26 AM
Scout's Top 25 Recruiting ClassesScout has a new top school in the recruiting rankings. Take a look at capsules for the top 25 classes in the country, including a new number one.
Scout FootballMonday at 10:20 AM