Arkansas Pitcher Deserved Better Fate

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas right-hander Duke Welker probably could have sued his teammates for non-support and his case would stand up in any court.

Welker wouldn't have to plea bargain to get justice, either.

Unfortunately for the 6-foot-7, 221-pound junior college transfer, none of that mattered on a sunny, comfortable Saturday afternoon in Baum Stadium.

After No. 1 Vanderbilt walked off the field with a 6-3 win against No. 9 Arkansas, the jury was still out on what actually happened.

Because of an untimely error, two wild pitches and a freak inside-the-park home run, which was misplayed by Razorbacks right fielder Brad Secrist in the eighth inning, Welker's best performance almost went unnoticed.

"Unbelievable, I mean, the guy pitched his butt off all day," Arkansas catcher Jeff Nutt said. "He competed. His stuff was electric. He had those guys' number all day.

"I just wish the game didn't have to end that way."

Welker went eight innings, gave up only one earned run while striking out five and throwing 111 pitches.

Meanwhile, his teammate got only six hits.

"I was disappointed we lost," Welker said. "We had a chance to win, a chance to tie. We didn't get the defense we needed and I kind of put us in a bad situation, too.

"Tough play for Secrist. I can't be negative about it. That happens in baseball. All we can do is move forward.

"It's a team game.

"On the bright side, it's always a good confidence builder to come out and play well against a team like Vanderbilt. Just a little more focusing and I'll feel better about the upcoming conference games."

That doesn't bode well for opposing Southeastern Conference opponents.

"That's the best I've seen him pitch, ever," Nutt said. "Unbelievable performance. I could tell right away in the bullpen he had some zip on his fastball, spotting it up real good, curveball was working, slider was working.

"I knew right then it would be a great day."

Another Large Crowd

Arkansas had another large crowd for Saturday's game, making long lines of traffic part of the landscape around Baum Stadium.

There were 9,203 fans -- that's the second most for a regular-season game in Baum Stadium -- who witnessed Saturday's game.

The first game of the series drew 9,078 on Friday night.

"This is why I came here," Nutt said. "Big-time environment, playing in the SEC. The crowd was loud, roaring, I know that pushed Duke to keep going today.

"It got me going behind the plate."

Razorbacks third baseman Logan Forsythe also noticed.

"The crowd was awesome," Forsythe said. "We had a lot of students coming back from spring break, some of them.

"You've got this whole stadium packed, which is crazy. I mean, the other team knows they're there, too. The fans were there for nine innings. It's fun to see them stay for nine innings.

"They're true fans."

Pop Ups

Forsythe, who went 1-for-3 Saturday, with his career-high fourth home run, extended his hitting streak to nine games. He, too, has hit safely in 19 of his last 20 games ... Arkansas left seven runners on base Saturday ... Vanderbilt left fielder Matt Meingasner stole his first base of the season Saturday.

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