Arkansas 10, Florida 4

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As soon as Arkansas first baseman Tim Smalling squeezed the ball in his glove to record the final out, a loud cheer erupted from the Razorbacks' dugout.

Reserves jogged onto the field and congratulated teammates. They shook each other's hands. They smiled. They laughed.

It has been a long time since Arkansas enjoyed a Sunday victory, let alone a Southeastern Conference series win, so the celebration after beating Florida 10-4 in front of 3,113 in McKethan Stadium was warranted.

The Razorbacks (19-15, 5-9 in SEC) wrapped up their first conference series victory of the season and snapped a streak of seven straight SEC series losses, which dated back to the Auburn series in April 2007. Even more, they won on a Sunday for the first time since beating Siena on March 9.

"This will be the best Sunday I've had in two months, obviously," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "I know the plane ride home is going to be a lot sweeter now."

The Razorbacks can thank an opportunistic offense for the good feelings Sunday.

Arkansas struggled at the plate in its 6-1 loss on Saturday night, but shook off the frustrations to collect 12 hits and score runs in five innings against the Gators (24-12, 9-6).

The Hogs struck out 16 times in the first two games, but cut the number to four Sunday. Seven starters had at least one hit.

"I think today was probably, if not the best, one of the best offensive days we've had," said designated hitter Jeff Nutt, who went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. "We were just really having good at-bats.

"We kind of slowed down batting practice before the game. We took our time. We didn't rush. I think that helped."

Van Horn also shuffled his lineup, which paid dividends. The top five hitters Sunday — Chase Leavitt, Ben Tschepikow, Logan Forsythe, Nutt and Brett Eibner — combined to go 10-for-21 with seven RBIs and nine runs.

Eibner led the way early by driving in three runs in the first five innings off Florida starter Tommy Toledo (4-3). He knocked in two with a bases loaded blooper in the third inning, which helped the Hogs grab a 3-0 lead.

And, after the Gators cut the lead to 3-2 in the fourth inning, Eibner helped them score two more runs in the fifth with an RBI double.

"I thought that was the part of the game where our team really, really felt like they were going to win the game," Van Horn said.

Arkansas also took advantage of a poor defensive performance by the Gators. Florida committed a season-high six errors across its infield. The sloppiest inning was the sixth, when three errors led to two runs and helped the Hogs open their lead to 7-2.

The Gators added two more runs off Arkansas starter Justin Wells (3-0), who lasted 6 2/3 innings, in the bottom half of the inning to close the gap to 7-4. But Arkansas responded again with two runs in the seventh to boost its lead back to five. Nutt hit his second homer of the series in the eighth to seal the win.

"I think it was the nail in the coffin for them," Nutt said. "That definitely put them away."

The Florida series was pivotal to the Razorbacks, who had dropped their first four SEC series. Van Horn said he emphasized the importance of a Sunday win before the game and his team responded with a strong effort.

As a result, Arkansas remains in the hunt for an SEC Tournament berth despite its struggles this season. But as nice as Sunday's win was, the Razorbacks know there is more work to do.

"It feels awesome," Tschepikow said. "But what are we, 5-9 in the SEC? We haven't done anything yet. It feels good to win one (series), but we've got to keep going. Until we get to the postseason, I don't think anybody can be happy or satisfied. I know I won't be."

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