Tide doubles up Arkansas

TUSCALOOSA -- The No. 34 Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team used a school record five doubles in a six-run seventh inning to double up the No. 15 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks 6-3 Saturday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Alabama (30-13, 11-9 SEC) down to its last strike in the seventh inning, scored six runs on six hits all with two outs to pull out its 15th come-from-behind win of the 2003 season. The 15 comeback wins accounts for half of the win total this season.

Sophomore first baseman Zac Welch started the rally with a two-out, two-strike single up the middle against Scott Roehl. Junior third baseman Nathan Meiners followed with double to left-center field to score Welch from first base with the first run of the game.

Pinch-hitter Ryan Beagle doubled into the left field corner on the first pitch he saw from Roehl, scoring Meiners from second base as UA pulled to within one a 3-2. Charlie Lyons drew a walk to chase Roehl from the game.

Arkansas reliever Jarret Gardner entered the game and surrendered three straight doubles to Travis Garner, Allen Rice and Adam Pavkovich as the Crimson Tide took a 6-3 lead.

Garner ripped a double down the left field line, scoring Meiners from second base and sending pinch-runner John Marshall to third base. Rice then followed with a double to right field that fell in between second baseman Scott Bridges and right fielder Andrew Wishy. Marshall and Garner scored on the play to give Alabama a 5-3 lead.

Pavkovich capped the rally as he laced the school-record fifth double of the inning into left center field to score Rice with the sixth run of the inning.

The Crimson Tide has scored 13 of its 15 runs in the series against the Razorbacks with two outs.

Arkansas (30-11, 11-9 SEC) suffered its first SEC road series loss of the season after winning its first three series away from Fayetteville against South Carolina, Kentucky and Auburn.

Prior to the winning rally in the seventh inning, the Crimson Tide had managed only one hit -- a two-out single by Al Hecklinski in the fourth inning.

Arkansas starter Jay Sawatski blanked the Crimson Tide one hit over the first five innings in his first ever start for the Hogs. He added one strikeout and hit one batter before leaving the game with a 3-0 lead after throwing a season-high 69 pitches.

Roehl entered the game in the sixth and retired the first five Crimson Tide batters he faced before the two out rally in the seventh turned the tide. Roehl (6-2) was charged with four runs and three hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Alabama starter Taylor Tankersley (6-2) earned the win by pitching into the eighth inning, his first win since March 28 against No. 12 LSU. The Vicksburg, Miss., native allowed three runs and five hits in 7 1/3 innings, adding two walks and seven strikeouts for the win.

Prior to Saturday, Tankersley had gone 0-2 with 10.03 ERA in his previous three SEC starts. He left the game with one out in the seventh inning after allowing back-to-back one out hits to Scott Hode and Nick Pitts.

Senior right-hander Brian Reed replaced Tankersley and got two ground ball outs from pinch-hitter Nick McConnell and Andrew Wishy to end the eighth inning threat. Reed also pitched a scoreless ninth to record his 11th save of the 2003 season.

With the save, Reed broke a 17-year career school record on Saturday by notching his 20th career save for the Crimson Tide. The previous all-time saves record was shared by Troy Bruachle (1983-84) and Greg Hibbard (1985-86).

Arkansas centerfielder Nick Fox provided all the offense for the Razorbacks on Saturday afternoon, hitting two home runs and driving in all three runs.

Fox hit his SEC leading 17th home run with one out in the second inning to give the Razorbacks a 1-0 lead.

The Razorbacks extended the lead to 3-0 with a two-out, two-run home run by Fox in the fourth inning. Haas Pratt started the rally with a sharp one-out single to center and then stole second base on the next pitch.

After Clay Goodwin struck out for the second out of the inning, Alabama opted to pitch to Fox with first base open and two outs. After falling behind in the count (0-2), Fox then hit his second home run of the game down the left field line to give the Hogs a 3-0 lead.

The win marks the 11th straight home win for the Crimson Tide over the Razorbacks dating back to the 1995 season. Alabama has also won the last eight SEC series with Arkansas dating back to 1995.

Arkansas, losers of its last four games, suffered its first loss (22-1) of the 2003 season when leading after six innings.

The Crimson Tide and Razorbacks close out this three-game series with a 2 p.m. game Sunday afternoon at the Joe. Alabama will send either right-hander Seth Johnson (5-2, 3.04 ERA) or left-hander Jeffrey Norris (5-1, 5.87 ERA) to the mound against Arkansas right-hander Josh Merryman (1-0, 4.28 ERA).

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