Complete For The First Time

ATHENS, Ga. — Sick of relinquishing too many hits, Arkansas right-hander Jess Todd recently added a new pitch to his arsenal.

Two weeks ago, Todd experimented with a two-seam fastball. His whole life, his thumb and two forefingers had covered all four of the baseball's seams, so the idea was foreign.

"I thought it was going to be hard, but I picked it up right away," Todd said. "I just thought I'd try something new."

The Georgia Bulldogs must wish he hadn't.

Todd tossed the first complete game of his Razorbacks career Sunday at Foley Field, allowing just three runs on six hits in Arkansas' 9-3 series-clinching victory.

The 6-foot, 213 pounder struck out seven, baffling Georgia's hitters with sliders, changeups and four-seam fastballs, in addition to a plethora of two-seam fastballs.

"He kept the ball down, had a good slider and the two-seamer was really working for him," Georgia coach David Perno said.

Todd's performance fueled the Razorbacks' sixth Sunday victory in six tries after splitting the first two games of a series this season.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said his team needed no reminders of how important this Sunday game was for the ninth-ranked Razorbacks (32-11 overall, 13-5 in the Southeastern Conference).

"We've been talking about that since we walked in here five years ago," Van Horn said. "To me, this was a dangerous series. There's a lot more talent there (at Georgia) than their record (indicates)."

The Bulldogs (14-26, 6-12) lineup didn't look that talented, though, even in the late innings as Todd refused to tire.

Previously, Todd's longest outing was a six-inning relief stint in Arkansas' 8-3 victory against No. 1 Vanderbilt on March 25. His longest previous start came last Sunday when he went five innings, and struck out 10, in the Hogs' 10-7 win over Florida. "I haven't gone a complete game since this summer in the Texas Collegiate League," Todd said. "So it was real exciting."

He was thrilled early on Sunday, as well. Arkansas, which went on to collect 12 hits, gave Todd a quick five-run cushion by scoring twice in the first inning, once in the second and twice again in the fourth.

"Anytime a pitcher can get some runs early, you're more relaxed on the mound," Todd said.

Todd, looking relaxed throughout, didn't allow a hit in the first three innings. Only two of his three runs allowed were earned, and he induced 11 groundouts, including four double plays.

The final double play ended the game after Todd had given up three straight singles in the ninth. Van Horn said he didn't have reservations about leaving Todd in because he had only thrown 108 pitches before that final batter, 75 which went for strikes.

And when Danny Hamblin squeezed the final out, Todd calmly pumped his fist to mark his first career complete game. Afterward, he immediately cited his new pitch as the main reason for his success.

"It's getting hitters out on their front foot," Todd said. "I was giving up a lot of hits, and I was thinking that my fastball was a little too straight. This helped.

"I'm glad I started throwing it."


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