Dirty Work Pays Off For Arkansas Infielder

HOOVER, Ala. -- Arkansas second baseman Ben Tschepikow doesn't mind getting his uniform dirty.

He wears it like a badge of honor.

Maybe that's why so many Razorbacks fans saluted him for his defensive efforts Saturday.

Tschepikow's dirty work in the field soiled South Carolina's chances of winning time-and-time again in Regions Park.

Twice he belly-flopped to the turf to make two "I-can't-believe-what-I-just-saw" plays which ended in putouts.

Another time -- it was the eighth inning -- he knocked down a potential hit at the most critical time in the game.

Basically, he put on a fielding clinic during his team's 3-2 win against South Carolina in a Southeastern Conference Tournament thriller.

He got two thumbs up from both teams.

"Tschep saved the game, basically," Arkansas catcher Brian Walker said. "The plays that he made were great. He's a great ballplayer. The sky is the limit. He'll play as long as he wants to.

"He was a big part of the win today."

South Carolina coach Ray Tanner couldn't argue.

"We worked to get runners in scoring position," Tanner said. "(Phil) Disher walked there (in the eighth) and Tschepikow tries to keep us out of the game today by himself.

"He made some nice plays with the glove at second base and came up with some balls that could have made a difference."

Tschepikow dismissed his defense as being magical, but admitted he might have had his best body of work on display Saturday.

"Those two plays I made today are probably up there with the top two or three plays I've ever made," Tschepikow said. "I remember making a play or two when I was 9 or 10 when I was playing shortstop, but those were probably the best two I've made.

"I just wanted to do something to help us win."

Tschepikow did something to help Arkansas win at the plate, too. He dropped down a sacrifice bunt in the third inning, and hit a ground-rule double to start the sixth.

Still, the majority of conversation surrounding 5-foot-11, 195-pound junior from Fayetteville, was his infield play.

"No, I don't mind getting my uniform dirty," Tschepikow said. "That's just playing hard-nosed baseball. If you don't get some dirt on it, you haven't done your job as an infielder.

"We emphasize playing hard and getting dirty."

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