Typically when one is said to have “fought the good fight,” there is a “but...”coming. And so it was for Alabama’s baseball team Sunday as the Crimson Tide twice rallied to tie No. 21 Arkansas, only to have the Razorbacks strike for three ninth-inning runs to take the game and the series.
Alabama fell by 8-5 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, losing two of three games to the Hogs.
Arkansas opened the top of the ninth with back-to-back singles and advanced both runners 90 feet with a sac bunt. Davis Vainer entered in relief and struck out the first batter he faced before intentionally walking the Razrobacks’ No. 5 hitter to load the bases. The next batter, Carson Shaddy, sent a two-RBI single to right to give Arkansas the lead. A third run would score on a wild pitch.
“Tough game, tough game. I hate that we come out on the bad end of that thing,” said Alabama Coach Greg Goff. “I thought we just made a few too many mistakes and gave up a few runs that we probably shouldn’t have. There are things that we have to clean up as a coaching staff, and we have to get our guys ready to make those plays that decide a game.”
With the loss, Alabama fell to 13-15 overall, 2-7 in Southeastern Conference games.
The Tide will travel to Troy on Tuesday before returning home to host the Trojans on Wednesday. Both games will start at 6 p.m. CDT.
Arkansas jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but Alabama answered with a three-spot in the bottom of the third to tie things up. The Razorbacks scored a pair in the sixth to regain the advantage, but the Tide battled back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh. The two teams went scoreless in the eighth before Arkansas’s three-run ninth.
The Tide got two runners on base in the ninth, but couldn’t get runs.
The Bama offense was led by its 1 through 3 hitters, who batted a combined 8 for 15 (.533) with four RBI and four of the Tide’s five runs. No. 2 batter Chandler Avant finished 4-for-5 with a double and a pair of runs scored, setting a new career-high mark for hits in a game. The Tide’s No. 3 hitter, Kyle Kaufman, recorded all four of the team’s RBI with a home run and a run scored as part of his 2-for-5 day. Sophomore leadoff man Cobie Vance collected two hits for his team-leading 11th multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with a run scored.
Alabama starter Nick Eicholtz faced 18 batters in 3 1/3 innings before giving way to Garrett Suchey (1-3). Suchey threw a season-long 5 innings and provided the Tide time to battle back, but suffered the loss.
Trailing 3-0 in the third inning, Alabama tied the game with Kaufman’s three-run homer. The rally started with two-out singles from Vance and Avant followed by Kaufman’s second home run of the season.
Arkansas took a 5-3 lead in the sixth. An inning later, Alabama had runners on second and third with two outs and Kaufman at the plate. The Tide’s designated hitter singled to bring home both runners and tie the game, a tie that lasted only until the Razorbacks’s ninth inning.