Hogs clinch share of SEC title despite loss to Vandy
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - No. 12 Vanderbilt edged out No. 2 Arkansas 7-6 on Saturday afternoon at Hawkins Field to take the series against the Razorbacks and end the regular season with back-to-back wins.
Despite the loss, Arkansas (39-15, 20-10 SEC) secured its fourth regular-season SEC championship at Hawkins Field. The Razorbacks split the title with No. 4 Florida (42-13, 20-10 SEC) after both teams finished the season with an SEC-leading 20 wins.
Arkansas clinched its second SEC title in the last three seasons and its fourth in school history (1999, 2004, 2021 and 2023). The Razorbacks also won their eighth SEC West title, four of which have come since 2018. Dave Van Horn has led the program to seven division championships and its last three SEC titles since becoming head coach in 2003.
Nonetheless, the day on the field belonged to Vanderbilt.
Troy LaNeve hit a three-run home run for the second game in a row to help spark the Commodores' offense. Vandy totaled 12 hits with the bottom four hitters of the order going a combined 8-for-15 at the plate.
Ryan Ginther earned the start and turned in four strong innings to match his career high. Ginther didn't allow an earned run and struck out five batters. David Horn threw 2.1 scoreless innings and Nick Maldonado closed the door for his eighth save on the season.
Arkansas struck first with the help of an error by Vanderbilt. The Razorbacks put a pair on base with a walk and a single in the top of the second. A groundball provided a double play opportunity but the throw to second was errant, allowing the runner from second to come around and score. Arkansas added a second run on a sac fly to lead 2-0.
Vanderbilt answered quickly in the home half of the second. Parker Noland got things going with a one-out single. RJ Austin followed with a double to put two on base for LaNeve. LaNeve, who hit the go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning Friday, did it again Saturday with a three-run shot to left to put Vanderbilt on top 3-2.
Schreck singled to lead off the bottom of the third and moved to second on a sac bunt. Austin then lined a two-out single to left that scored Schreck from second to increase Vandy's lead to 4-2.
Arkansas retook the lead with four runs on five hits in the top of the fifth to go up 6-4.
The Commodores rallied back in the bottom of the sixth. T.J. McKenzie singled with one out and Vastine doubled to put runners on second and third. A balk brought home McKenzie and Bradfield pulled the Dores even at 6-6 with an infield single that allowed Vastine to touch home.
Bradfield stole both second and third and another balk brought him home as Vandy took a 7-6 lead. Bradfield now ranks third in SEC history with 127 career stolen bases.
Nick Maldonado recorded his second save in as many days and his eighth of the season. Arkansas put the tying run on in the ninth but Maldonado got a groundball to Austin who started a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
Vanderbilt will be the No. 4 seed at next week's SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. The Commodores will play in the fourth game on Wednesday and will face the winner of the 5-seed vs. the 12-seed matchup.
Arkansas is the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament and will play its first game on Wednesday at The Hoover Met. The Hogs play the winner of Tuesday's single-elimination game between seventh-seeded Tennessee and 10th-seeded Texas A&M.