Hogs Homer Gets To Hochever

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- No scoreboard was needed to figure out who was leading late in Friday's 4-1 Arkansas win against Tennessee in Nelson Stadium.

The 1,852 in attendance only had to look at Vols starter Luke Hochever's body language from the third inning on to see he wasn't excited about his job.

His frustrations led to the No. 10 Razorbacks' (30-6 overall) ninth straight win and moved them into a tie with Alabama, which lost 9-8 at Florida on Friday, for first place in the Southeastern Conference Western Division with an 8-5 record.

"(Hochever) was really sharp in the first inning or two and we felt like we had our hands full," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn.

After working fast and displaying a confident demeanor early, Hochever spent the final innings mostly with his head down between pitches, slowly walking around the mound and occasionally picking up the rosin bag and throwing it down.

It was apparent the preseason All-American who hadn't lost since his first appearance was in the middle of his worst outing this season. Hochever ended up allowing four runs on seven hits in eight innings. He struck out six and walked a season-high five batters for the No. 23 Volunteers (23-10, 7-5).

"Hochever wasn't as sharp, but I didn't think he was really bad," said Tennessee coach Rod Delmonico "He pitched pretty good, but (the Hogs) compete, put the ball in play and try to make something happen.

"They did what they had to do to win."

Hochever was calm and cool early, retiring seven of the first eight he faced until Craig Gentry broke the ice with a one-out bunt single in the third. Two batters later, John Henry Marquardt followed with a two-run homer off the scoreboard in right to spot Arkansas the early advantage.

"I saw (the third baseman) playing a little bit back," said Gentry, who had three of his game-high four hits off Hochever. "And with the thick grass, I knew all I had to do was get it down and I could probably beat it out. Luckily, I did and it kind of jump-started us.

"Then, (John Henry's) bomb really got it going and was what broke (Hochever's) back.

"After that, we felt like we had him."

Marquardt's second homer in three games, which Van Horn said "stunned" the Vols, came with a 1-1 count against Hochever.

"It was a changeup he kind of left up and I just put a good swing on it," said Marquardt, who also drove in a run in the seventh. "I'm not a power hitter. I usually just hit line drives but every once in a while, I get one up in the air like that."

Arkansas starter Nick Schmidt (5-1) was able to locate his off-speed pitches to scatter three hits in 5 2/3 scoreless innings. It was the first time a UA starter has recorded a decision in 14 games.

"It was good for Schmidt to feel that and experience that and for the players to watch him do that," Van Horn said. "We hadn't had it for a while, but it sure is nice to get a starter a win."

Schmidt was relieved by Charley Boyce, who gave up one hit -- a solo homer by Chase Headley in the ninth -- in 3 1/3 innings. Prior to that, Boyce hadn't allowed an earned run in 16 2/3 innings since moving to the bullpen earlier this month.

Had Headley not homered, it would have been the first time Arkansas had shut out an SEC opponent on the road since 1994.

"Both guys pitched well," Delmonico said. "They got out of some jams by making a couple of quality pitches. That was the difference."

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