Then, as soon as Brad Secrist put his hands up showing he had no idea where the ball was going, the relief quickly turned to disbelief.
Despite leading for much of the game, ninth-ranked Arkansas saw a routine fly ball turn into a nightmare finish. And thanks in big part to Secrist's misplay on a potential inning-ending fly ball, No. 1 Vanderbilt escaped with a 6-3 win in front of a season-high crowd of 9,203.
"I still don't know what happened out in right field," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "You coach the game long enough, you see everything. But I've never seen that.
"(Brad) just flat lost it. When it came off the bat, we knew it wasn't going out of the park and we were kind of excited. Then we saw him throw his arms up and we thought he was going to find it. But he was coming in and then we knew he wasn't going to find it because it was going over his head."
With the game tied, 2-2, in the eighth inning, Vanderbilt's Pedro Alvarez sent a towering fly ball to right field. But instead of making the play, Secrist clearly never got a good read on the hit.
The result was a 3-run inside-the-park home run for Alvarez to put the game out of reach.
"I was just confused," Alvarez said. "I thought I got a good piece on the ball, but (Secrist) kept coming in. So I just kept running.
"Basically that's the way the game goes. Sometimes you're able to get the lucky break and sometimes you don't. Today we were fortunate to get a lucky break."
Vanderbilt (23-2, 3-2 in the SEC) needed that lucky break with the way Arkansas starting pitcher Duke Welker was throwing. Through the first seven innings, the junior right-hander had given up no earned runs on three hits. But in the eighth, two misplays -- first a Logan Forsythe throwing error and then Secrist's outfield confusion -- turned the tables on a potential series-clinching win for the Diamond Hogs (18-7, 3-2).
"I haven't talked to (Brad) yet. I'll probably talk to him in the locker room and tell him not to worry about it," Welker said. "I mean, he didn't try to miss the fly ball and that's a play he makes nine times out of 10.
"But that's just baseball."
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