Morgan Pitches Tide Past Hogs
"Morgan had a quality start and it's the same formula that it's been," Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard said. "He took us deep into the game and Smart's been able to come in and close them out."
Morgan (4-1) won his second conference game of the season to improve his record to 2-0 in SEC play, after going eight innings, allowing only two runs on six hits, while walking two and striking out a season-high seven batters. Morgan has now struck out five or more batters in each of this three SEC starts (six vs. Ole Miss, five vs. Kentucky).
Brett Booth had a solid day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two RBI and one walk and Brant Hendricks added a pair of hits and an RBI. Austen Smith also continued to excel at the plate, going 1-for-4, knocking a double and scoring two runs. Smith is now 3-for-8 with a double, a triple, four RBI and two runs for the weekend.
Alabama closer Jonathan Smart came in for the ninth to earn his seventh save of the season, his fifth in SEC play, and second of the weekend. Arkansas starter D.J. Baxendale (5-1) took the loss for the Hogs.
The win is the Tide's seventh straight in SEC play.
The Razorbacks struck first in the top of the second, scoring one on a solo home run from James McCann to lead off the inning.
Alabama answered in the bottom of the inning. Smith continued to stay hot against Arkansas, leading off the inning with a double. He would cross the plate three batters later when Hendricks slammed a double to left to even the score at 1-1.
The Tide took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from Booth that plated Josh Rosecrans, who singled to reach base three batters earlier, and put the Tide ahead, 2-1.
Alabama added another run to its lead in the bottom of the sixth. With runners on first and second and two outs, Booth singled up the middle, over the head of the Hogs' pitcher, setting the score at 3-1.
Arkansas chipped away at the Tide lead in the top of the seventh adding one of run of its own. The Hogs added a tally on an infield groundout, bringing home the first batter of the inning and narrowing the gap to 3-2.
"Baseball is a game of momentum and streaks and those things and right now obviously we're on a good ride," Gaspard added. "You try not to think about it so much. You just keep showing up. It's one thing that makes you a lot more aggressive in situations because mentally we're a lot more positive in your thoughts, and I think the players are the same way."
Alabama added more runs to its lead in the bottom of the seventh. A double-steal attempt by the Tide resulted in a rare, run-scoring play. The throw to cut down the runner at second was cut off by the second baseman, but the throw back to the plate to nail Dugas ricocheted off the back of Arkansas starter Baxendale, allowing Dugas to cross. In the process, Smith, who was initially attempting to steal second, continued around the bases and was making his way to third when the errant throw rolled into the Alabama dugout, awarding Smith another base and giving the Tide two runs to add to its total, and a 5-2 advantage
The Hogs did not go quietly in the ninth. A leadoff single, a walk and a force out put runners on first and third with two outs. In the next at-bat, a hard grounder deep in the hole at shortstop was good for an infield single and scored the runner from third to score. It was 5-3. With runners on first and third and two outs, Smart got the final Razorback hitter to line out to Dugas in center and end the game.
Alabama and Arkansas conclude the series Sunday. Going for the sweep, the Tide will toss sophomore right-hander Tucker Hawley (5-1, 2-0 SEC). Sophomore right-hander Randall Fant (1-2, 0-1 SEC) will pitch for Arkansas in the series finale. First pitch is scheduled for 1:06 p.m. CDT start at Sewell-Thomas Stadium and will be aired live by CSS with Matt Stewart doing the play-by-play and former Tide player Scott McClanahan providing the color.
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