Tide completes sweep of Razorbacks

TUSCALOOSA -- For the second consecutive day, the Alabama Crimson Tide used a big inning to defeat the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The No. 34 Crimson Tide scored scored nine runs on nine hits in the bottom of the fourth inning to post a 14-2 win over the Razorbacks and complete the three-game sweep Sunday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The Crimson Tide has now won 12 consecutive home games against the Razorbacks, dating back to the final game of the 1995 series. Alabama has also won eight straight SEC series with Arkansas, including four consecutive series sweeps here in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama (31-13, 12-9 SEC) sent 14 men to the plate in the fourth inning, with four different players collecting two RBI each. The Crimson Tide has won nine of its last 12 games dating back to April 8.

"We had a big inning for the second straight day and big innings win games," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said following his team's fourth straight win. "We were able to score in more than one inning today. We played well this weekend and swept a really good Arkansas team."

Beau Hearod opened the inning with an infield single to third base and moved to third on Zac Welch's base hit up the middle. Al Hecklinski's double to right field snapped the 2-2 tie, scoring Hearod from third and sending Welch to third.

Hecklinski's double chased starter Josh Merryman (1-1), who was charged with the loss after allowing five runs and seven hits in three-plus innings.

After Nathan Meiners grounded out, Ryan Beagle followed with a two-run single to center field, scoring Welch and Hecklinski. Beagle, making his first start of the season in left field, had one hit, two RBI I and scored two runs in the win.

Junior catcher Bobby Burns followed Beagle's two-run single, with a two-run opposite field home run to right field, extending the lead to 7-2. Burns finished the game with a career high three hits, including a pair of home runs, and three runs scored. His two home runs gives him four this season and three in SEC play.

Following Burns second home run of the game, Travis Garner reached on an infield single and Allen Rice followed with a base hit to left field. Adam Pavkovich then lined a double into the right field corner, scoring both Garner and Rice to give the Crimson Tide a 9-2 lead.

Pavkovich's double chased reliever Clint Brannon, who allowed five earned runs in one-third of an inning.

Brannon was replaced by Boyd Goodner, the third pitcher of the inning. Goodner walked Hearod and later issued a two-out walk to Hecklinski to load the bases. Meiners then smashed a two-run double to right field, scoring Pavkovich and Hearod to complete the nine-run frame as UA took an 11-2 lead.

The nine run inning was more than enough for junior right-hander Seth Johnson, who after allowing a two-out double in the first inning, shutout the Razorbacks over his final 7 1/3 innings on the mound.

Johnson (6-2) worked eight strong innings and allowed two runs and six hits for the win. He struck out a career high 11 batters and added two walks. Johnson's previous high was nine strikeouts in a 3-2 win at Auburn on April 5.

For the weekend, Alabama pitchers recorded 32 strikeouts against Arkansas. Sophomore left-hander Brent Carter had 14 strikeouts in the opener and sophomore Taylor Tankersley added seven in Saturday's win.

Alabama extended its lead to 13-2 in the fifth inning when Burns singled and scored on a base hit by Rice. Garner scored the second run when Pavkovich hit into a double play, one of three turned by the Hogs.

The Crimson Tide closed the scoring with another unearned run in the eighth inning. Pinch-hitter Brandon Avalos led off with a single and later scored on a throwing error by third pitcher Wes Vrska, the sixth Arkansas pitcher in the game.

Arkansas (30-12, 11-10 SEC) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Clay Goodwin stroked a two-out double to left-center field to score Andrew Wishy and Haas Pratt.

Alabama tied the game in the bottom of the third inning on Burns' two-run home to left field, his first of two home runs in the game.

The Crimson Tide pounded out 18 hits in the series finale, including three hits by Rice, Welch and Burns. Welch had three singles in the win for this third three-hit game this week. Hecklinski added two hits for the Crimson Tide.

Arkansas managed only eight hits in the loss, their fifth straight of the 2003 season. Kirk McConnell and Goodwin had two hits each, accounting for half the hits in the game.

The Crimson Tide will host the Samford Bulldogs in a non-conference game Wednesday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m. here at the Joe. Next weekend, Alabama travels to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers in a three-game SEC series.

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