Coming off two big wins against top-ranked Arizona State in the middle of the week, No. 12 Arkansas was looking to stay on a roll as Southeastern Conference action picked back up Friday against the Commodores. Instead, Vanderbilt was the one rolling in the series opener at Baum Stadium, crushing the Razorbacks with plenty of offense and a gem on the mound from Mike Minor in a 9-0 win in front of an announced 4,066 on Friday.
"I didn't feel like we were letting down at all," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "I think we just got it handed to us by a great pitcher that they thought was going to throw like this all year. Coach (Tim) Corbin just told me it's the best he's thrown all year, and he had it all working."
Arkansas (24-7, 10-3 in SEC) had almost no luck against Minor from start to finish. The junior lefthander and two-time Team USA selection was in top form Friday, allowing no runs and just four hits in eight innings, while matching a season high with 11 strikeouts.
"I felt pretty good, even in my bullpen before the game," Minor said. "I just love this atmosphere. I love the crowd, even when they get on me I kind of enjoy it when they're yelling at me and trying to say stuff. I just love to play here and compete and play against the No. 1 team in the country."
Even if the Razorbacks had figured out Minor, finding a way to beat Vanderbilt would have still been mighty difficult. Because on the other end, the Commodores had their way with Arkansas starter Dallas Keuchel. Lasting just 3 1/3 innings, Keuchel surrendered a career high seven runs and a career-high 10 hits. After giving up single runs in the second and third innings, Keuchel was tagged for five runs in the fourth as Vanderbilt (20-13, 6-7) blew the game open early.
""We had good success against (Keuchel) and he's been tough to break," Corbin said. "We were fortunate. We got some decent pitches to hit and we capitalized on putting some hits back to back. That doesn't happen very much against Dallas. He's a very good pitcher, some of our guys know him from the Cape Cod League. So we know him pretty well.
"We were just very fortunate tonight, but it was just one game."
With the loss, Arkansas is down 0-1 in an SEC series for the first time this season. The Razorbacks were also shut out for the first time since May 19, 2007 against Ole Miss and saw their conference lead trimmed to one game over LSU after the Tigers rallied to win at Alabama.
"It's disappointing to say, but it was one of those nights where they outplayed us," Van Horn said. "They outpitched us and outhit us and they beat us pretty good."
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