"Sundays are tough, especially when you're playing a highly, highly motivated team doing anything they can to get a win before they got out of here," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "I thought (Florida starter Nick) Maronde pitched an excellent game and really tried to start busting us inside. He changed it up from what he's been doing.
"We just told our team to hang in there. I thought our pitching staff did a great job. We didn't give them any extra bats."
Maronde allowed just four hits in five innings, striking out five. But back-to-back Arkansas hits in bottom of the sixth put him in line for a no-decision when Scott Lyons scored to tie the game at 2-2.
The Hogs took the lead on an odd play in the bottom of the eighth inning that led to Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan getting ejected.
With the score tied 2-2, Razorback pinch hitter Jarrod McKinney struck out, but advanced to first base on a wild pitch. Arkansas second baseman Ben Tschepikow scored from third.
The play came into question, however, because the ball ricocheted off Florida catcher Buddy Munroe, down the base line and into the baserunner's leg. McKinney was called safe and Tschepikow's run counted. McKinney later scored on a stolen base and throwing error by the catcher to give the Hogs a 4-2 lead.
"If he swings and misses and the ball is in the dirt, and he starts to run to first, the ball can make contact with the runner just as long as it's not intentional," Van Horn said. "You've seen it where a guy might throw his bat at the ball or try to kick it. Jarrod had no idea where that ball was. … He swung at a pitch out front and it hit the chest protector of the catcher and bounced up about chest high.
"We were able to score two runs without getting a hit in that inning. The reason we were able to do that was because the game was tied and we knew we were going to get the last at-bat regardless."
Tschepikow said he wasn't aware of what was going on at first base; he was just trying to score.
"I saw the ball get away and the catcher didn't really hustle to it like he normally should have," Tschepikow said. "I just wanted to get home.
"I had to ask Coach Van Horn afterward what happened. I didn't know what they were complaining about or anything."
Arkansas (12-3, 3-0 SEC) started the game strong with a lead-off triple from freshman Collin Kuhn. He scored one pitch later on an RBI single by Scott Lyons to give the Razorbacks a 1-0 lead.
The Gators (9-7, 0-3) tied the score on an Avery Barnes' solo home run in the top of the third and took their first lead of the series in the fourth inning on a wild pitch by Razorback starter Drew Smyly.
Smyly earned a no-decision by going six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, while striking out four.
Freshman Zack Cox gave Arkansas a spark out of the bullpen, striking out two in 2.1 hit-less innings.
"As a bullpen we just want to give the team a chance to win the game," Cox said. "With our offense we can score runs at any time."
Stephen Richards struck out the only two batters he faced in the ninth to record his second save of the season.
Van Horn said the bullpen, which struggled in the beginning of the season, is becoming stronger as the season progresses.
"This weekend the bullpen was incredible," Van Horn said. "Florida is a pretty good hitting team. We just tried to give our pitchers the best match-ups and they came through for us."
The sweep was Arkansas' first in a three-game series to open conference play since 1993 and the 3-0 SEC start is Arkansas' best since 1998.
"Any time you can get two wins in a weekend series is huge, but any time you can sweep a team it's even bigger," Tschepikow said. "Playing on Sunday is the biggest thing – whether you're tied 1-1 or down 0-2 – good teams win on Sunday. Hopefully we can continue that through the year."
Ben Tschepikow extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a 2-for-3 effort.
Arkansas has now won six straight games against Florida in Baum Stadium. The Razorbacks swept the Gators in their last trip to Fayetteville in 2007.
Van Horn will welcome his former club, Nebraska, to Baum Stadium Tuesday and Wednesday. The seventh-year Razorback skipper coached the Cornhuskers to back-to-back College World Series appearances in 2001 and 2002.
Sophomore right-handers Sam Murphy and Brett Eibner are expected to start on the mound for the Razorbacks in the midweek series.
The sweep of Florida is Arkansas' first three-game sweep to begin conference play since 1993. The Razorbacks took two games from South Carolina in 1998 in a series that was shortened because of weather.