by Dudley Dawson
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas got arguably the nation’s best leadoff hitter out to start the game Friday night, but it was not a harbinger of things to come with Vanderbilt.
Sophomore Enrique Bradfield, Jr., went 3-of-5, including a three-run, tie breaking homer in the 10th inning as the No. 24 Commodores downed the No. 4 Razorbacks 9-6.
Bradfield, who has stolen 34 bases in 34 attempts this season, launched the game-winner on a 1-2 pitch from Arkansas relief pitcher and loser Brady Tygart (2-3) with first base open.
It was the first homer that Tygart, who has seven saves, had given up this season.
“It is just all a matter of competing,” Bradfield said. “We have been in some tough spots this year and we’ve just kept coming at it.
“I swing at a first pitch curve ball, which I saw really well. The fast ball was next and I was just honestly looking for a fast ball again on 1-2. When you are looking for a fast ball, you can react to a curve ball and that’s what I did.”
It was a stunning final inning for the home team, who got two home runs from Brady Slavens and one from Robert Moore while climbing out of a 5-0 hole the Razorbacks found themselves in the top of the third.
“It was just kind of a crazy game,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “We are down five and made a pretty good run there and hit some home runs that got us back into the game.”
Arkansas was one strike away from taking it tied to the bottom of the 10th even though Vanderbilt had runners on second and third with nobody out.
“We got into a jam into the 10th and it looked like we were going to get out of it when they bunt the ball and we get a out at the plate.
“..On a 1-2 count, he fouls a pitch off. I don’t think it was that bad of a pitch. It was kind of down and obviously he was kind of setting on a off speed bench, but he kind of got it squared up. It wasn’t like a hanger. He just went down and got it.
“Give Bradfield credit. He just hit a good pitch.”
Bradfield, whose team outhit Arkansas 10-8, knew first base was open, but thought he would still be pitched to by Tygart.
“I wasn’t really thinking about that,” Bradfield said. “That is their guy out of the pen and I knew they were probably going to ride with him.”
The game also featured a raccoon in the stands.
Freshman lefty pitcher Dylan Futrell went the first five innings for Vanderbilt giving up four runs on five hits.
Van Horn lamented not getting more runs after Arkansas rallied to tie it 5-5 in the sixth.
The Razorbacks had a bases-loaded, one-out situation later in the inning, but Michael Turner’s hard-hit grounder was turned into a 3-6-3 double play that ended the threat.
“We had a chance and were one big swing away from having a two or three-run lead. Give credit to their pitchers and we never got that swing.
“Really what kind of did us in back toward the beginning and even toward the end was the free passes. We walked them a few times, hit them a couple of times and those runs scored for the most part.”
That rally got Razorback starter Connor Noland off off the hook.
Noland went five innings while giving up five runs on six runs with three walks, two hit batters and five strikeouts.
He threw 97 pitchers with 60 of them strikes.
“He didn’t have good stuff today,” Van Horn said. “He didn’t have command.”
The win over Arkansas (36-13, 16-9) pushed Vanderbilt (33-15, 13-12) over .500 in SEC action.
The two teams are set to play Saturday night at 6:30 and Sunday at 1 p.m.