Arkansas Pitcher Returns To The Spotlight

FAYETTEVILLE — Fortunately for Arkansas, there was no need to issue an AMBER Alert when pitcher Jess Todd recently went missing from the spotlight.

And there was no need to plaster Todd's mug on the side of a milk carton or send out a search party for the 6-foot, 213-pound junior college transfer. Todd showed up just in time to help No. 9 Arkansas take its series from No. 1 Vanderbilt with an 8-3 win in front of 7,985 citizens on a comfortable, convertible-with-the-top-down sun-shinny Sunday afternoon in Baum Stadium. In the process, Arkansas improved to 19-7 overall and 4-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Vandy is 23-3 and 3-3. Todd, in relief of starter Dallas Kuechel, worked a season-long six innings, allowing only 4 hits and 1 run and striking out 5. He threw an economical 81 pitches. "What you saw today is what we saw early ... and then last fall," Razorbacks coach Dave Horn said. "He really never had that bad inning that he's been kind of jinxed with where he's given up an 0-2 hit and another 0-2 hit and they get a big hit and score some runs. "He was lights out." Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin agreed. "He was really good, tough, nasty," Corbin said. "We couldn't get any good swings on him and no extra base hits." Todd, too, benefited from Brian Walker's two-out fifth-inning grand slam which gave the Razorbacks an 8-2 lead. "That was big," Todd said. "Walker hit that big grand slam in the fifth inning and a pitcher's role is, if you have a big inning, is go out there and shut them down. "They got that one run in the sixth inning and after that, we pretty much buried them." Todd said he wasn't surprised he got used so early Sunday. He said he expected it. "Oh yeah," he said. "Coach (Dave) Jorn (Arkansas pitching coach) told me, ‘Be ready, have your spikes on,' and sure enough, that's what happened." "The past three weeks now, I've been throwing bullpens for about 70-80 pitches, so I was ready for this," That's kind of the way Van Horn saw it, too. "Well, he did a tremendous job," Van Horn said. "Really, he got it going after his first inning, third or fourth inning, whenever he came in. I mean, he did OK. "Then, after that, he really turned it up a notch. "His velocity picked up, he had every thing working. He was throwing plus-plus changeups against left-handers, his fastballl was running hard, his slider was pretty good." Sunday's win avenged a 6-3 loss against the Commodores the day before and gave the Razorbacks their first SEC series win at home this season. "It all worked out," Van Horn said. "I feel good about beating a real good team. That's the best team we've played this year in our opinion. They have a tough lineup to pitch to. They don't make many mistakes. They have some all-star type guys. "I'm really proud of our guys. We're bounced back all year after we've gotten beaten liked we did yesterday (Saturday). I don't think we've lost two games in a row all year. "That's the sign of a good club when you don't lose two games in a row."

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