Schmidt Shuts Down Vols

FAYETTEVILLE — The key moment in Arkansas' 6-1 win against Tennessee on Friday wasn't Wayne Wrozek's RBI single or a fourth-inning double play or even Blake Parker's grand slam.

"Why don't our hitters do like that?" Schmidt asked his catcher. Walker reassured Schimdt that the hits would come, he just needed to refocus which he did by striking out the next two batters. Schmidt then beaned nine-hole hitter Jarred Frazier to load the bases, but got a ground out to first to escape the jam unscathed.

In the following inning, Arkansas' offense put an exclamation point on Schmidt's question by pushing five runs across, including Parker's grand slam home run.

"It's the biggest hit we've had this year," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "It's been so long since we've had a big hit to maybe seal the game. It wasn't over, but the way Nick was throwing, we felt pretty good in the dugout with a five-run lead. "We needed that."

So did Schimdt, who Van Horn praised for keeping momentum going by retiring the next 11 batters in order. No. 13 Arkansas (22-5, 3-4 in Southeastern Conference play), hooks up with No. 21 Tennessee (17-9, 1-5) again at 4:05 p.m. today.

Schmidt fanned 11 for his fourth double-digit strikeout game in a row. He credited Walker's talk with helping him through the only rough spot in his first complete game of the season. "Walker's a big boost back there," Schmidt said. "He keeps you confident the whole time. That hit off my foot kind of ticked me off and I needed to be settled down a little."

Schmidt (5-2) displayed more cockiness than usual. Proof came after he snagged a line drive to end the third as he simply flipped the ball over his shoulder and strutted to the dugout as if the comebacker didn't bother him a bit.

"He had arrogance and a swagger about him that we really needed," Walker said. "Really, our whole team came out confident and that's how we have to be to win in this league." The Razorbacks had hit lefties well all season, but had yet to see a left-hander with as sharp of a breaking ball as Tennessee starter James Adkins. The sophomore who's on the Clemens Award Watch List for the nation's top pitcher did not allow a hit until Walker's two-out single up the middle in the fifth inning. "He's got a good breaking ball," Van Horn said. "And it's a little bit of a late-breaker which makes it tough for our right-handers to reach out there and hit it. He did a good job of locating it." Adkins (4-3) retired the first seven before hitting Walker with a pitch in the third inning. He then retired seven of the next eight before Walker's fifth-inning single.

"You would like to get a win, but Schmidt is really good," said Tennessee coach Rod Delmonico. "You've got to give both pitchers credit, they pitched really well."

In the sixth, back-to-back one-out singles by Chris Hollensworth and Danny Hamblin set the table for Hrozek's RBI double to right center that gave the Hogs a 1-0 lead. A full-count walk by Jake Dugger then loaded the bases for Parker, who unloaded on a 1-2 breaking ball that inched over the wall in left center for his second homer this season and second career grand slam.

"I thought the grand slam was a great pitch," Delmonico said. "I can't second-guess the pitch, down and in with two strikes and (Parker) went down and got it."

Logan Forsythe smacked his second homer in as many games to give Arkansas some insurance and a 6-0 lead in the eighth inning. The solo shot seemed to take away any life that was left in the Vols' dugout, but Kelley Edmudson connected with a solo homer with two outs in the ninth to avoid the school's first shutout in two years.

The Hogs played error-free defense behind Schimdt and helped him out of the fourth with a double play after Tony Delmonico led off with a single. Another important play came with the bases loaded in the fifth when Hamblin, playing first, knocked down a hit shot right at him for the final out.

Schmidt, sound defense and timely hitting all added up to the Razorbacks' first Friday win in SEC play.

"It was a complete game when you look at it," Van Horn said. "We didn't make any mistakes in the field and we made one base running mistake and in a close game, that would have been big. "But we finally put it all together and it was good to win on a Friday."

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