Hogs Get Help From Tennessee Pitcher

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — For the most part, Arkansas' hitters didn't have to do much more than stand at home plate and not swing to fluster Tennessee pitcher Ty'Relle Harris.

The senior made things tough on himself.

Harris threw nine consecutive balls to open Friday night's game against the No. 12 Razorbacks. He walked the first three batters he faced to load the bases.

And his control was so bad early on that some of the 2,075 fans inside Lindsey Nelson Stadium cheered when the right-hander threw his first strike on his 10th pitch.

The Razorbacks capitalized on Harris' woes, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning, getting a Zack Cox solo home run in the second and using a solid outing by Dallas Keuchel to cruise to a 9-3 win in the series opener.

"We took advantage of some early walks. We did. We just kept extending our lead," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "It was like they would score, we would punch one in and answer and that was big for us."

Arkansas (28-11, 12-6 SEC) loaded the bases in each of the first three innings, and thanks to some timely hitting, jumped out to a 5-0 lead. That was all the Razorbacks needed to do on a night when Tennessee's starting pitcher had difficulty throwing strikes and coach Todd Raleigh was serving a one-game suspension.

"Ty'Relle pitched really well against LSU last Sunday, and for him to go out and really not have a feel for the zone, I mean it hurts," said Tennessee assistant coach Bradley LeCroy, who filled in for Raleigh.

"And you can't do that against a team like (Arkansas), give them three free passes and then you're facing the middle of the order. You're going to get burnt."

Harris walked each of Arkansas' first two batters — Chase Leavitt and Ben Tschepikow — on four consecutive pitches. He then loaded the bases after walking first baseman Andy Wilkins on a full count.

And the senior's night only got worse two batters later when Arkansas designated hitter Jacob House smacked a double down the first-base line, scoring three runs.

"We were just looking to score first on the road and just get on top early, put the pressure on their pitching," said House, who went 2-for-4 and tied his career high with four RBIs.

Cox led off the top of the second with a solo home run over the center-field wall, extending Arkansas' lead to 4-0 and adding to Harris' early struggles.

The pitcher was pulled two batters later after giving up a single and hitting Arkansas catcher Ryan Cisterna with a pitch. Harris lasted only one inning, surrendering four runs on three to make it easy for the Razorbacks to win their third consecutive game.

While Tennessee had problems on the mound, Keuchel showed he could be in control when given an early lead to work with. He didn't give up a run until the fourth inning and improved to 6-1 after striking out five and allowing just two runs on six hits.

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