For the third weekend in a row, Jess Todd's number was called with Arkansas needing a win to avoid an Southeastern Conference baseball series loss. And for the third weekend in a row, the bulldog in Todd barked loudly from his spot on the pitching mound.
After back-to-back complete-game wins at Georgia and Auburn the last two weeks, Todd showed no letdown Saturday against LSU. In fact, the junior right-hander was even better, throwing 8 2/3 innings of shutout baseball while recording a career-tying best 10 strikeouts in a 5-0 Arkansas win.
Once considered the Razorbacks' best option as a closer, Todd has suddenly become Arkansas' top stopper out of the rotation in a few short weeks.
"That's just what a pitcher does," Todd said. "My two-seam (fastball) was helping out a lot and also that wind helps. Anytime you've got a 25-mile per hour wind blowing in, that helps a pitcher out a lot.
"(This win) was huge. Yesterday we lost a tough one in front of so many people and today we set another (attendance) record. Just anytime you've got this many fans, who wouldn't want to be out there."
With another school record-setting crowd on hand in Baum Stadium -- as 10,581 fans filled the seats Saturday -- Todd continued his recent dominance of SEC opponents. Now over his past three starts, the Navarro College transfer is 3-0 with a staggering 1.01 earned run average.
"He did a great job. I got to see him out there for one inning and he got a couple of strikeouts," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, who was ejected in the first inning Saturday. "But I watched it on TV and everything he threw was moving and sinking and diving. He got ahead of a lot of hitters and I thought our infield really backed him up.
"I think what it is it just so happens he's the next guy up. He's scheduled to pitch after a bad Saturday loss last week and this week we just so happened to pitch him after another loss. He just comes through. He's a good pitcher and he's warming up. He likes the weather, he's a starter now and not coming out of bullpen and he's doing a heck of a job."
With Todd throwing bullets and leaving LSU (27-21-1, 10-12-1) batters at a loss, the No. 7 Razorbacks didn't need all that much offense Saturday. What offense Arkansas (36-13, 16-7) did get came mostly from Brian Walker -- who finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs -- and Ben Tschepikow, who had three hits and an RBI.
Still, Arkansas' lineup took a back seat to Todd on Saturday. And for good reason.
"It's always fun catching Todd," Walker said. "He throws such great stuff and he's such a bulldog. He just keeps them off balance, he battles and he just gives us a great effort every time he's out there.
"His ball was really sinking. We got back to his sinker and I think that's the biggest thing that's made his success. He's just got so much movement on his pitches. We offset it with a slider and four-seamer just to keep them honest. But he just make pitches when he has to. When the game is on the line and it's a tough spot, he always seems to make the pitch."
LSU at No. 7 Arkansas
WHEN: 12:35 p.m.
WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville
RECORDS: LSU 27-21-1, 10-12-1; Arkansas 36-13, 16-7
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