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Spanberger's blast seals Hogs' victory

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Photographs by Associated Press

Arkansas' Chad Spanberger makes the stop on a ball hit by Alabama's Tanner DeVinny during an NCAA college baseball game Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Vasha Hunt/AL.com via AP)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Chad Spanberger's 12th home run of the season gave the Razorbacks another SEC victory Thursday night.

Spanberger broke out of a hitless night with a towering two-run shot off the scoreboard behind the 375-foot mark in left field in the 10th inning to lift Arkansas over Texas A&M 6-4 at Blue Bell Park.

Spanberger's home run was the SEC-leading 68th for the Hogs, who also got a two-run shot from shortstop Jax Biggers in the eighth inning that gave them a 4-3 lead.

"The last at-bat I was just trying to elevate something," Spanberger said. "I tried to get it up in the wind and let that help me out. It was an away pitch, a fastball, and I got a good swing at it.

"It hit the barrel. I thought it jammed me a little. Their home run I didn't think was going out, but it went halfway up that net. I thought, 'Dang, I'll just try to hit one in the air to left and do the same thing.'"

Jake Reindl (3-1), who was unable to nail down the a save in the ninth inning, retired the Aggies in order in the bottom of the 10th to get the victory.

Mitchell Kilkenny (3-3), A&M's fourth pitcher, suffered the loss.

Arkansas (38-14, 17-10 SEC) enhanced its chances of hosting an NCAA regional by winning its fourth in five games.

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn didn't even mind that he had to work overtime to get it.

A&M (35-19, 15-13) got a sacrifice fly from Jorge Gutierrez in the ninth off Reindl to force extra innings.

"We walked the lead-off man in the ninth and that will usually get you," Van Horn said. "We just told our guys once they scored we still got a chance. We're here. We're out of school. Let's just play all night. Whatever we've got to do.

"Spanberger had a great at-bat and hit the seventh one over the top of the scoreboard, which was amazing."

Van Horn also felt that Arkansas starting pitcher Trevor Stephan's outing was impressive, although he was denied his third consecutive victory.

Stephan struck out 10 and allowed 5 hits in 7 2/3 innings.

"The story of the night, to me, was Trevor Stephan," Van Horn said. "He was fantastic. He made one bad pitch after an error, gave up three unearned runs on a home run and all the sudden we were down. We kept getting out hits, but we could never get that big hit to give us a big inning."

The Hogs fell behind 3-2 on Braden Shewmake's three-run home run in the third.

A&M pitchers Brigham Hill and Kaylor Chafin often worked out of trouble to protect the Aggies' lead as Arkansas left runners in scoring position in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings.

That frustration finally ended in the eighth.

Dominic Fletcher led off with a single into left field. Biggers then launched the first pitch he got from Chafin just inside the right-field foul pole to give the Razorbacks a 4-3 lead.

It was much more dramatic than Spanberger's blast, which left little doubt it was going to be a home run.

The Razorbacks left 12 runners on base, but got the most important one across when it mattered most on Spanberger's home run.

"I don't know how many we left on, but it had to be a lot," Van Horn said. "It was frustrating, but that's just kind of how the game worked. You just keep grinding it out and hopefully somebody would put a good swing on a pitch and that's what we did in the 10th."

Sports on 05/19/2017

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