FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas jumped out to a five-run lead in the first inning on Senior Day and the Razorbacks beat Tennessee 10-2 Sunday at Baum Stadium.
Designated hitter Joe Serrano led off with a double for the second game in a row and scored the first run on senior Matt Vinson’s RBI single. The center fielder from Alma scored when the other senior in the batting order, Jacob Mahan, hit an RBI single.
“We got our butts kicked Friday night and we did what we needed to do on Saturday and had a chance to win the series today,” Vinson said. “We got off to a good start and just kind of built from that. …
“It was Senior Day, but as a team we needed to win the series. We did that.”
Vinson, who said he had about 15 family members in attendance Sunday, also hit his second home run of the season in the sixth inning. He went 3-for-5 with three runs and two RBIs.
“That was kind of the cherry on top of the day,” Vinson said of his home run. “I got to graduate (Saturday) and then got to come in here on Senior Day and we played the way we did. That was just kind of the cherry on top of everything. It was a lot of fun. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Arkansas freshman Jordan Farris drove in three more runs in the first inning with a bases-clearing double. Farris came to the plate with the bases loaded again in the third inning and drew a bases-loaded walk for his fourth RBI of the game.
In the two wins in the series, Arkansas (34-17, 17-9 Southeastern Conference) scored in 13 of 16 innings, including all eight innings in the series-tying win Saturday. The Razorbacks scored 21 runs on 26 hits in two wins against the Vols.
“Unless you are a great offensive team, as a coach, you get a little concerned about scoring a bunch of runs one day and the next day it doesn’t happen,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “I really wasn’t concerned about it (Sunday). I just wanted to get out to a good start, which we did.
“I didn’t expect to score five runs in the first. I would have been happy with two, but five was a lot better. I just like the fact that we kept battling and put together a lot of good at bats. Hopefully we’ll continue to swing the bats and build confidence. Maybe the bats are warming up.”
Arkansas left fielder Brian Anderson was not able to repeat his 4-for-4 performance from Saturday night, but continued to scorch Tennessee (20-28, 7-18 SEC). He was 2-for-5 with a double, a triple, two RBIs and run scored.
Anderson is 13-for-25 with 10 runs, 9 RBIs, 3 home runs, 2 doubles and 2 triples in six games against the Volunteers.
“Most of his hits came with two strikes,” Van Horn said of Anderson’s series. “The triple in (Sunday’s) game was with less than two strikes, but the home run and the double were with two strikes. He did a tremendous job and he’s feeling it. Sometimes, that’s the way it goes. He caught fire this weekend and it was good to see.”
On the mound, senior starting pitcher Randall Fant (5-1) tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings, allowing just two hits and striking out five batters.
“He’s done a great job of slowly, but surely maturing mentally and physically,” Van Horn said of the senior left-hander. “Like a lot of kids, things may not go right right off the bat and that’s what happened with Randall his freshman year, but he overcame it and got stronger. He had a lot of support and he’s really popular among his teammates. Guys really like him. He’s a very likeable person. I think if you could ask anyone on our team, they’d tell you they really enjoy being around Randy.
“Really seeing him come a long way this year, not only physically, but mentally, it’s like a different person. It’s been fun to watch his development on the field and off of it. I’m really proud of him.”
In addition to Fant earning the win on Senior Day, senior relievers Tyler Wright and Trent Daniel each retired a batter. Daniel allowed the Volunteers’ first run in the eighth and junior Colby Suggs pitched the final inning, allowing a run for the first time since a relief appearance against San Diego State on March 9.
Suggs had tossed 12 straight scoreless innings in 13 consecutive appearances.
Tennessee starting pitcher Aaron Quillen (2-4) tossed the five-run first inning and that’s all it took for him to take the loss. Relievers Trevor Bettencourt, Drake Owenby and Eric Martin finished the game for the Volunteers.
“They showed the signs of a team that has been in Omaha,” Tennessee coach Dave Serrano said of Arkansas. “That’s commonplace for a program that has been so successful so many years in a row. I’ve been to programs that were like that. Like when I was at Cal State Fullerton, you expect to win.
“I think our guys were surprised we played so well on a Friday night and won. And they may have been afraid we woke those guys up and sure enough we did and we acted like that the last couple of games.”
The series-clinching victory marked the first time Arkansas has won seven conference series since 1999, when the Razorbacks won 8 of 10 conference series.
Arkansas will have a chance to win its eighth conference series when it wraps up the regular season with a three-game road trip at Auburn. The first game between the Razorbacks and the Tigers is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on Thursday.