Vanderbilt Punches Out Arkansas

Lining the top step of the dugout with their caps pulled down, Arkansas players appeared to be into Friday's game against Vanderbilt at Charles Hawkins Field.

But clearly, the No. 12 Razorbacks were out of it early. Instead of punching in, they punched out. They showed up only to get blown up.

Four errors -- all on routine throws -- in the first two innings led to a 7-1 loss against the No. 16 Commodores in front of a crowd of 1,323.

Arkansas (23-8, 4-6 in Southeastern Conference play) will try to get back on track today at 2 p.m. with staff ace Nick Schmidt pitching against left-hander Cody Crowell for Vanderbilt (21-9, 8-2).

"We just got off to a bad start," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "We can still win the series. We need to tie it up (today) and hopefully, we'll do that."

For the game, the Hogs matched a season high with six errors. They also struck out a season-high 17 times against Vanderbilt ace left-hander David Price, who has garnered three of the last four SEC Pitcher of the Week honors and should be in line for another.

It added up to Arkansas' largest margin of defeat this season, but Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin figures he'll see a different team take the field today.

"I know they're good. They don't fool me for one second," Corbin said. "I know what (Van Horn's) got in that dugout. He's the best coach in the SEC and I know what that guy can do with kids.

"They're going to be extra, extra tough (today)."

Working fast, Price (5-2) mowed down batter after batter by throwing mostly fastballs. Arkansas' only run came when Jake Dugger clubbed a solo homer in the second inning. He limited the Razorbacks to three hits, their second lowest output of the season.

"He did a heckuva a job keeping the ball away from us," Van Horn said. "About the time we would start looking for the fastball away, he'd bust us inside. He located it well and really pitched.

"He's a lot better than he was last year and he just keeps getting better and better, which is kinda scary because he's only a sophomore and we'll have to face him again."

What's even more scary is the fact that Price didn't have one of his best pitches, a slider, working Friday. Otherwise, he may have challenged Vanderbilt's 35-year-old strikeout record of 23 in a single game.

"They've got really good hitters," Price said. "I didn't have my slider going very good (Friday), so I just had to rely on my fastball. Usually, my slider is my second pitch to go to, my strikeout pitch. But it wasn't much of a pitch (Friday).

"But fortunately, I had confidence in my fastball."

That fastball in the mid-90s is what makes Price so difficult to hit. He actually throws two fastballs, a two-seamer and a four-seamer. The two-seamer runs away from right-handers while the four-seamer tends to stay straighter while actually cutting into righties at times.

"We don't hit him in fall ball or spring ball and we know what's coming," Corbin said. "The reason he's so successful is not only is the velocity good, but the movement on the fastball once it gets into the plate area is extra special.

"Guys in the big leagues, I'm not going to compare him to big leaguers, but guys in the big leagues have that."

Arkansas starting pitcher Charley Boyce (2-2) was roughed up for the second straight outing and likely will be used out of the bullpen next weekend. He lasted just one-plus innings, allowing seven runs (five earned) on eight hits.

With the help of Arkansas' early errors, Vanderbilt scored all seven of its runs in the first two innings. Hogs relievers Shaun Seibert, Brett Bollman and Michael Wild combined to shut out the Commodores for the next seven innings while allowing only three hits.

"Our bullpen held them down," Van Horn said. "I think we might have found a guy or two that might be able to help us. I thought Wild did a super job, getting a bunch of ground-ball outs and some strikeouts. That's what we want to see."

What he doesn't want to see is errors on routine plays by pitchers. The most costly came shortly after Seibert replaced Boyce in the second inning. The sophomore fielded a soft grounder and launched it into right field to allow Vanderbilt's final two runs to score.

"Pitchers made three errors (Friday) which killed us," Van Horn said. "The ball that was hit to Seibert, he panicked. He acted like he didn't know what to do with it. It was unbelievable.

"So, instead of being down 5-1, we're down 7-1. And whe Top Stories