Arkansas vs Vanderbilt: How the Hogs Can Still Clinch the SEC Title

Brady Slavens, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs Vanderbilt, SEC title
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

UPDATE: Even with a loss in the Arkansas vs Vanderbilt rubber match, the Razorbacks still won the SEC West and shared the overall regular-season conference title with Florida. They finished 20-10, which was tied with the Gators and a half-game ahead of LSU.


Considering the heartbreaking way the Razorbacks lost Friday night, it can be easy to forget they can still win an SEC title in the Arkansas vs Vanderbilt finale on Saturday.

The easiest way for that to happen would be simply to beat the Commodores in the rubber match, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT and will be streamed on SEC Network-Plus.

That would make Arkansas 21-9 in SEC play — a mark that neither LSU nor Florida would be able to catch, even if they won their games earlier in the day.

If the Razorbacks lose, things would get a little tricker and they’d need some help.

In that scenario, an LSU win over Georgia would give the Tigers the division and overall titles, giving Arkansas the 3 seed in next week’s SEC Tournament. It would need the Bulldogs to salvage Game 3 against LSU to clinch the West.

An LSU loss on Saturday would also guarantee the Razorbacks at least a share of the overall title because the best Florida can do is tie them in the standings.

An Arkansas loss to Vanderbilt and a Florida win over Kentucky would make both teams 20-10. That’d be half of a game ahead of LSU if it loses to Georgia (19-10), so they’d be declared co-champions. In that scenario, the Gators would likely get the 1 seed through tiebreakers, as their best common opponent is Vanderbilt and they swept the Commodores.

To keep it simple, here is what could happen today:

  • If Arkansas beats Vanderbilt, it wins the regular-season title and clinches the 1 seed at the SEC Tournament.
  • If Arkansas loses to Vanderbilt and…
    • …LSU beats Georgia, the Razorbacks finish second in the SEC West and earn the 3 seed at the SEC Tournament.
    • …LSU loses to Georgia and Florida beats Kentucky, the Razorbacks are co-champions of the regular season with the Gators and earn the 2 seed at the SEC Tournament.
    • …LSU loses to Georgia and Florida loses to Kentucky, the Razorbacks are the sole SEC champions and earn the 1 seed at the SEC Tournament.

As we did Friday, Best of Arkansas Sports will provide live, inning-by-inning updates from the Arkansas vs Vanderbilt finale below, as well as score updates from the other two relevant games…

GameTime (TV)Score
Arkansas at Vanderbilt2 p.m. CT (SECN+)
LSU at GeorgiaNoon CT (SECN+)9-5 UGA, F
Florida at Kentucky1 p.m. CT (SECN+)5-2 FLA, F

LIVE UPDATES — Arkansas vs Vanderbilt

Pregame Tidbits

After leaving yesterday’s game with an apparent ankle injury, shortstop John Bolton is not in the starting lineup Saturday. Dave Van Horn said on the pregame radio show that he has a sprained ankle. Harold Coll is starting in his place.

Vanderbilt is starting sophomore left-hander Ryan Ginther. It will be his first start of the season. In 19 relief appearances, Ginther has a 3.45 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .196 against him.

T-1st: Arkansas 0, Vanderbilt 0

Ginther made quick work of the Razorbacks in the opening frame. Josenberger flied out to left and then Diggs and Wegner struck out. The three outs came on 13 total pitches.

B-1st: Arkansas 0, Vanderbilt 0

Vanderbilt made some hard contact on Hollan, but came up empty. After a line out to right by Bradfield, Diaz singled to left. Schreck then gave it a deep ride, but Josenberger managed to track it down. Diaz was already around second on the play, so Arkansas doubled him up for an inning-ending 8-4-3 double play. Hollan threw just 10 pitches.

T-2nd: Arkansas 2, Vanderbilt 0

Ginther opened the inning with his third straight strikeout, as Bohrofen went down swinging. However, Cali followed with a walk and Slavens singled. That looked like it might be it for them because Holt hit a tailor made double play ball, but Vastine threw the ball away. The E6 allowed a run to score around to score and put runners on the corners. Coll flied out to right and it was just deep enough for Slavens to race home and slide in ahead of the throw, making it a sac fly. Rowland went down swinging to end the inning. That got Ginther’s pitch count up to 34.

B-2nd: Vanderbilt 3, Arkansas 2

Bulger flied out to left to start the home half of the inning, but then things went poorly for Hollan. He gave up a single to Noland and a double to Austin. With runners on second and third, LaNeve launched a three-run homer to left to put the Commodores on top. McKenzie doubled into the left field corner to make it four straight hits.

Hollan bounced back to strike out Vastine and appeared to get out of it when Bradfield hit a soft grounder back to him on a check swing, but Hollan booted it. The E1 put runners on the corners. He did get out of it when he struck out Diaz, but it was a 30-pitch inning that brings him to 40 for the game.

T-3rd: Vanderbilt 3, Arkansas 2

A leadoff walk by Josenberger and hit by pitch by Diggs put a couple of runners on base with no outs, but Wegner struck out and then Bohrofen was robbed by a diving catch by the center fielder. Cali also hit a line drive, but right fielder made a nice running grab to end the inning. Ginther is up to 53 pitches.

B-3rd: Vanderbilt 4, Arkansas 2

Schreck singled through the right side for a leadoff hit and then Bulger moved him to second on a sacrifice bunt. Hollan struck out Noland, but with two outs, Austin delivered an RBI single that just got over Cali. LaNeve slapped it the other way for a single and Austin went first to third on the play. That’s it for Hollan.

The new pitcher for Arkansas is right-hander Will McEntire, who threw 53 pitches on Thursday. He got the Hogs out of the jam by striking out McKenzie.

T-4th: Vanderbilt 4, Arkansas 2

After Slavens grounded out to second, Holt followed with a single up the middle. Coll nearly followed with a hit of his own, but the third baseman made a nice play to snag the line drive. Rowland nearly had a hit up the middle, but the shortstop got to it and flipped to the second baseman to get the force and end the inning. Ginther is up to 69 pitches.

B-4th: Vanderbilt 4, Arkansas 2

Vastine led off the fourth with a single, but he was thrown out trying to steal second. Bradfield then flied out to center and Diaz struck out swinging. McEntire has thrown 16 pitches to get four outs.

T-5th: Arkansas 6, Vanderbilt 4

Right-hander Thomas Schultz is now pitching for Vanderbilt. He promptly gave up a leadoff single to Josenberger, who then stole second. That set up an RBI single by Diggs to pull Arkansas within 4-3. Wegner nearly put the Razorbacks on top, but his deep drive hit the top of the wall for a double that puts runners on second and third.

After a strikeout by Bohrofen, Cali hit a grounder up the middle that looked like it might get through and score two, but the second baseman made a great play to field it and throw him out. A run score on the play, though, to tie it up. That run eventually scored on Slavens’ two-out RBI single through the right side. That’s it for Schultz.

The new pitcher for Vanderbilt is right-hander David Horn. Slavens stole second, setting up an RBI single by Holt. Holt also stole second, using a great slide to avoid the tag, but was stranded there when Coll struck out.

B-5th: Arkansas 6, Vanderbilt 4

McEntire is still on the mound for Arkansas. He issued a leadoff walk to Schreck. Bulger then flied out to center. Noland hit a chopper back to McEntire and he briefly bobbled it, but recovered in time to throw him out. That moved Schreck to second. With two outs, Austin grounded out to short. McEntire has thrown 32 pitches in 2 1/3 innings.

T-6th: Arkansas 6, Vanderbilt 4

Rowland opens the sixth with a ground out to second. Josenberger popped out on the infield and it was caught by the third baseman. Diggs grounded out to third to end the inning. It’s the Hogs’ first 1-2-3 inning since the first.

B-6th: Vanderbilt 7, Arkansas 6

Freshman left-hander Parker Coil is now pitching for the Razorbacks. He struck out LaNeve, but then gave up a single to McKenzie and double to Vastine. With runners on second and third, Coil was called for a balk to bring in a run. Now hitting with a runner on third, Bradfield hit a chopper to short and drive in the run. Coll’s throw was high, but he might have beat it out anyways, so it’s ruled an RBI single. That’s it for Coil.

Now pitching for Arkansas is freshman right-hander Gage Wood. Bradfield stole second on his first pitch and then Diaz walked, prompting a quick mound visit by Matt Hobbs. Bradfield swiped third and then scored on a balk by Wood, giving Vanderbilt the lead. Schreck then flied out to center and Bulger grounded out to second to end the inning.

T-7th: Vanderbilt 7, Arkansas 6

Wegner drew a leadoff walk. Bohrofen made solid contact, but it was an easy fly out to center. Cali then flied out to shallow left, with the shortstop making the catch. With two outs, Slavens hit a sharp grounder down the line that the first baseman couldn’t handle. Everyone was safe and it was ruled an infield single. However, they were stranded when Holt went down swinging.

B-7th: Vanderbilt 7, Arkansas 6

Noland tried bunting his way on, but Cali did a nice job charging it and throwing him out. Adcock then struck out Austin and LaNeve.

T-8th: Vanderbilt 7, Arkansas 6

Right-hander Grayson Moore is now pitching for Vanderbilt. He plunked Coll to start his outing. Ben McLaughlin pinch hit for Rowland and drew a walk, putting runners on first and second with the top of the order coming up. Grimes pinch ran for McLaughlin. Josenberger couldn’t get a bunt down and ended up looking at strike three. Diggs flied out to left and that’s it for Moore.

The new pitcher for Vanderbilt is right-hander Greysen Carter. He quickly got Wegner to hit a chopper to second to end the inning.

B-8th: Vanderbilt 7, Arkansas 6

Adcock issued a leadoff walk to McKenzie, but then caught a break when Vastine hit a line drive right to Slavens, who was able to then step on first for an unassisted double play. Bradfield then grounded out to first to end the inning.

T-9th: Vanderbilt 7, Arkansas 6

Vanderbilt closer Nick Maldonado is now pitching for the Commodores. Bohrofen fouled off several pitches and worked the count full before striking out on the 10th pitch. Cali also worked the count full, but he singled up the middle. Slavens then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end it.

FINAL: Vanderbilt 7, Arkansas 6

BOX SCORE – Arkansas vs Vanderbilt

Starting Lineups – Arkansas vs Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt BaseballArkansas Baseball
1. Enrique Bradfield Jr. – CF1. Tavian Josenberger – CF
2. Davis Diaz – 3B2. Kendall Diggs – DH
3. RJ Schreck – RF3. Jared Wegner – LF
4. Jack Bulger – C4. Jace Bohrofen – RF
5. Parker Noland – 1B5. Caleb Cali – 3B
6. RJ Austin – 2B6. Brady Slavens – 1B
7. Troy LaNeve – DH7. Peyton Holt – 2B
8. T.J. McKenzie – LF8. Harold Coll – SS
9. Jonathan Vastine – SS9. Parker Rowland – C
Pitching: So. LHP Ryan GintherPitching: Jr. LHP Hunter Hollan

How to Watch Arkansas vs Vanderbilt

Thursday, May 18 – Arkansas 8, Vanderbilt 2

Friday, May 19 – Vanderbilt 10, Arkansas 8

Saturday, May 20 – 2 p.m. CT (SECN+)

Accountability Check — 2023 Arkansas Baseball Predictions

Best of Arkansas Sports managing editor Andrew Hutchinson published his week-by-week predictions for the 2023 season just before the Razorbacks opened the year at the College Baseball Showdown. Those predictions can be read in full here, but we’ll also be doing weekly “accountability checks” in this space.

Prediction: 3-0 on the weekend / 39-13 overall, 18-9 in SEC play

Baum-Walker Stadium should be buzzing ahead of Arkansas’ final regular-season home series. The Gamecocks are a top-25 team in some preseason polls, but they’ll run into a buzzsaw this weekend, as the Razorbacks put themselves in the middle of the SEC West race with a sweep.

Actual: 2-1 on the weekend / 38-13 overall, 19-8 in SEC play

It wasn’t a sweep like we predicted, but Arkansas still won two of three against South Carolina last weekend. The Razorbacks are tracking one game ahead of our predictions in SEC play, but are pretty much spot-on with our overall record prediction – the difference being a midweek game against Arkansas State getting rained out.

Composite College Baseball Top 25

Unlike football and basketball, which have just the AP and Coaches Polls all year (with football adding the CFP rankings late in the season), college baseball has five major polls. (Collegiate Baseball used to be included, but it was dropped due to severe inconsistencies in its rankings.)

To get a better feel for how teams stack up, BoAS has combined those rankings into a single top 25 by using a points system in which a No. 1 ranking = 25 points, No. 2 = 24 points and all the way to No. 25 = 1 point. We will update this each week throughout the season…

1. Wake ForestACC125
2. ArkansasSEC+1119.5
3. FloridaSEC+3114.5
4. StanfordPac-12109
5. LSUSEC-3107
6. West VirginiaBig 12+692
7. Coastal CarolinaSun Belt+190
8. VanderbiltSEC-381
9. ClemsonACC+878
10. Miami (Fla.)ACC76
11. South CarolinaSEC-571
12. UConnBig East+169
13. CampbellBig South-266
14. East CarolinaAAC60
15. DukeACC-658
16. Dallas BaptistC-USA-156
17. VirginiaACC47
18. TennesseeSEC+246
19. Oregon StatePac-1243
20. KentuckySEC-428
21. Oklahoma StateBig 12+121
22. Boston CollegeACC-120
23. MarylandBig Ten15
24. AuburnSEC+311
25. Southern MissSun Belt+49
Receiving votes: Indiana State (7), Washington (5), Alabama (1)

MOVED IN: Auburn (24), Southern Miss (25)
MOVED OUT: UTSA (24), Texas Tech (25)

Conference Breakdown

  • SEC: 8
  • ACC: 6
  • Big 12: 2
  • Pac-12: 2
  • Sun Belt: 2
  • AAC: 1
  • Big East: 1
  • Big South: 1
  • Big Ten: 1
  • C-USA: 1


More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…

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