FAYETTEVILLE — A little bit of hustle can go a long, long way. Ben Tschepikow sure proved that Saturday.
Sitting at first base with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning in front of a season high-crowd of 8,070 at Baum Stadium, Tschepikow did what so many fail to do. On what looked like a routine pop-up just past the infield, many ball players would have lollygagged their way around the basepaths and conceded that the inning was over.
Not Tschepikow, though, who never slowed down and never quit running to the fullest. And when Brett Eibner's shallow pop fly was misplayed and dropped in for a wind-aided single, it was Tschepikow's hustle that made the difference in a thrilling, 5-4 Arkansas win against Tennessee.
"You know, we're always taught in practice to go hard with two outs with the ball in the air," Tschepikow said. "And I wasn't stopping until somebody told me to stop. I didn't hear stop, so I just kept going and it's a great win for the team."
Eibner's pop up appeared like it was going to be an easy out, which would have sent this back-and-forth game into an 11th inning. But after planting under the ball just behind second base, Volunteers shortstop Danny Lima began to backpeddle just onto the outfield grass once the ball began its descent.
By the time Lima had misread the ball — allowing it to land safely in play — Tschepikow was already close to rounding third base. And by the time Tennessee figured out Tschepikow was attempting to score the game-winning run, it was too late.
"It's a high popup, the sun's bothering him, the wind is blowing. And Ben, he's on first base and he never broke stride," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "I thought what the heck, if he does drop it. And I couldn't quite tell. So I just kept waving him and I never saw the ball hit the ground. I just heard everybody scream and I don't know what happened. I don't know if (Lima) couldn't get a grip on the ball or didn't know where the runner was or what. But that was just great hustle by Ben and just a great comeback win by us.
"That was two teams that really wanted to win, really needed to win. And hey, we got a break."
Overshadowed by Tschepikow's effort was the performance of both starting pitchers. While Tennessee ace Bryan Morgado showed his stuff by striking out 11 batters in 8 1/3 innings, Arkansas' Justin Wells was just as effective as he fanned a career-best nine batters.
"(Wells) gave us everything he had," Van Horn said. "He's a true Razorback, man. He battled his butt off and I'm proud of him. And I'm proud of James Mahler for coming in and giving us an inning and giving us a chance to get it in the bottom of the 10th."
For Arkansas (22-16, 7-9) there wouldn't have even been any 10th inning, though, if not for some more heroics at the plate. And just like the night before, it was catcher Ryan Cisterna delivering for the Razorbacks.
With Tennessee (22-16, 9-8) carrying a 3-1 into the bottom of the seventh, Cisterna brought Baum to its collective feet with a towering two-run blast to dead centerfield to give the Razorbacks a 4-3 lead.
The Volunteers would then respond with a solo shot of their own by Lima in the ninth. But thanks to a little extra hustle, everything worked out just fine for the Diamond Hogs.
"Our mentality right now is to outhustle the opposing position and outwork the other team," Tschepikow said. "You know, you work on it in practice and you go hard. Sometimes it shows in the game, sometimes it doesn't.
"But it did today."
Arkansas 5, Tennessee 4 (Again)
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