NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A disastrous first inning set the tone for the University of Arkansas in a 12-2 loss to Vanderbilt at Hawkins Field on Saturday afternoon.
Commodores left fielder Stephen Scott bashed a first-inning grand slam, part of the seven runs Vanderbilt scored before the Razorbacks registered an out.
No. 7 Vanderbilt (27-8, 9-5 Southeastern Conference) added two more in the second, then three more in the third on right fielder J.J. Bleday’s 15th home run of the season.
The 12 runs were the most No. 10 Arkansas (25-10, 8-6) has allowed in league play since falling to Florida 17-2 on March 24, 2018.
The first inning included a lot of self-inflicted woes for the Razorbacks.
“Really, we gave them five outs [in the first inning],” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “You can’t give a team five outs in any inning. And then our starting pitcher was behind in the count, gave up a couple, and then we bring in a reliever, we get behind in the count, and the ball’s leaving the yard.
“They put us away pretty quick.”
Even Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin was surprised by the start.
“I don’t know if you quite expect that on a Saturday, Friday, whenever. We got guys to reach base, then got the big hit by Scotty,” Corbin said. “We had some things go our way, too, some favorable spaces on the field that allowed us to reach base.”
Freshman starting pitcher Kumar Rocker dominated the Razorbacks. He struck out 7 in 7 innings while scattering four hits, three of which came off the bat of Arkansas designated hitter Matt Goodheart.
“He just continued to throw strikes, kept the pace fast, didn’t allow any free bases,” Corbin said.
Cooper Davis led off the game for Vanderbilt with a grounder deep in the hole to shortstop Casey Martin, who had no shot to get an out at first. Martin threw it anyway, and Davis wound up on second after the ball went into the dugout.
Freshman starting pitcher Connor Noland walked third baseman Austin Martin on four pitches. Bleday then skied a popup into shallow left, where Martin and left fielder Christian Franklin had a mild collision. The ball landed just inside the foul line, and Davis raced home for the first run.
“The shortstop ran a long way to make the catch,” Van Horn said. “The left fielder ran a long way. The bottom line is, [Franklin’s] got to talk. It’s his ball if he wants it. The shortstop actually had the ball for a split second, and th