Carter pitches Tide past Arkansas

TUSCALOOSA -- Sophomore left-hander Brent Carter struck out a career high 14 batters and Zac Welch and Al Hecklinski had three hits each to lead the No. 34 Alabama Crimson Tide to a 10-2 win over the No. 15 Arkansas Razorbacks.

The contest marked the first game of the Southeastern Conference series Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The win was the 10th straight for the Crimson Tide over the Razorbacks here in Tuscaloosa and leaves Bama just one win shy of its eighth consecutive series win over the Hogs.

The win was also marked Coach Jim Wells' 400th win with the Crimson Tide since taking over the program in 1995. Wells has compiled a 400-165 (.709) record with the Crimson Tide and is now just eight wins shy of his 600th career win in 14 seasons at Northwestern State and Alabama.

Carter (7-4) won his third consecutive start for Alabama, allowing only two runs and six hits en route to his fourth complete game of the season. In addition to his career-high strikeout total, Carter walked only one batter and pitched out of two small jams in the first and eighth innings.

Carter's 14 strikeouts are the most by an Alabama pitcher this season surpassing Taylor Tankersley's total of 11 strikeouts against Rhode Island on Feb. 28. He struck out four straight Arkansas batters and five of six UA hitters in the third and fourth innings.

The Americus, Ga., native struck out nine different Arkansas hitters in the game. He struck out Kirk McConnell three times and struck out Pitts, Fox and Hode twice each.

In addition, Carter's 14 strikeouts are also the most by an SEC pitcher this season. Steven Boundurant (South Carolina), Jeff Sues (Vandy) and Jeremy Sowers (Vandy) had the previous high total of 12 strikeouts this season.

Welch (3-for-5, 2 RBI) posted his second straight three-hit game and drove in a pair of runs for the Crimson Tide. Hecklinski (3-for-4, HR, 4 RBI) also added three hits and four RBI, including a his 10th home run of the 2003 season, making him the fifth SEC player this season with double-figure home runs.

Welch and Hecklinski combined for six hits and six RBI in the game. Five of their RBI came with two outs, including three by Hecklinski who leads the team with 22, two-out RBI this year.

Arkansas (30-10, 11-8 SEC) put two runners on base in the first inning when Scott Bridges reached on a one-out, bunt single and Haas Pratt laced a double into the left-center field gap.

Carter settled down and struck out Nick Pitts on a called third strike and then got Ryan Fox to fly out to left-center field with the aid of a running catch by center fielder Travis Garner.

After the double to Pratt, Carter retired the next 14 Arkansas batters in order before allowing a lead off single to Scott Hode to open the sixth inning. Pratt added a two-out single before Pitts flied out to end the inning.

Alabama scored two runs in each of the first two innings to take a 4-0 lead and chase Arkansas starter Charley Boyce, who turned in his shortest outing of the season.

Allen Rice tripled and scored on third baseman Kyle Goodwin's throwing error for the first run of the game and Zac Welch singled home Adam Pavkovich to give the Crimson Tide a 2-0 lead.

Alabama doubled its lead with two more runs in the second inning to take a 4-0 lead. Rice and Brandon Avalos collected two-out RBI singles to chase Boyce. Avalos replaced senior right fielder Beau Hearod, who left the game in the bottom of the second inning with a stomach virus.

The Crimson Tide extended its lead to 8-0 with four more runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by Al Hecklinski's three-run home run. The two-out home run was his 10th of the season, making him the fifth player in the SEC this season with double-figure home runs.

Rice doubled and scored on Pavkovich's base hit to make it a 9-0 game in the fifth inning. Rice (3-for-4, 3 R) finished the game with three hits and fell a home run short of the fifth cycle in school history.

Welch doubled and scored on Hecklinski's single to right field to give UA a 10- 0 lead after six innings.

The Razorbacks avoided the shutout in the seventh inning when Ryan Fox led off with his 16th home run of the year. Fox's 16th home run tied Alabama's Beau Hearod for the SEC lead.

Arkansas added another run in the eighth inning when Pratt doubled home Brett Hagedorn, who led off the inning with the only walk of the game against Carter.

After the double to Pratt, Carter then retired the next three batters, including strikeouts of Fox and Jason Pyle to leave runners at second and third base.

Carter struck out the side in the ninth inning and closed out the game with five consecutive strikeouts for his career-high total.

Nathan Meiners (2-for-5) also added two hits for Alabama, which had 15 hits in the game.

The Crimson Tide has collected 22 runs and 28 hits in win over UAB and Arkansas this week.

Pratt led Arkansas with three hits, which was half of the Razorbacks hit total against the Tide.

The series resumes with a 4 p.m. game Saturday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Alabama will send right-hander Seth Johnson (5-2, 3.04 ERA) to the mound against Arkansas left-hander Clint Brannon (3-1, 2.79 ERA).

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