Tide takes game and series

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The combination of right-hander Shane Sanders and left-hander Taylor Tankersley limited the Arkansas Razorbacks to one run and six hits, pitching the No. 11 ranked University of Alabama baseball team to 4-1 win Sunday afternoon at Baum Stadium, clinching the Crimson Tide's fourth straight Southeastern Conference series dating back to last year.

In its two Sunday SEC games this season, the Sanders-Tankersley combination has allowed only two runs in 18 innings on the mound. The Crimson Tide is 6-0 in Sanders six starts this year.

Alabama (21-3, 5-1 SEC) has now won seven straight series with Arkansas. The Razorbacks last won a series from Alabama in 1995 at Tuscaloosa. They have not won a home series since a three-game sweep over the Tide in 1994. Tankersley (2-1) allowed only one run on four hits over the final 4 1/3 innings for his second win of the 2002 season. The freshman from Vicksburg, Miss., factored in both UA wins this weekend against the Hogs, notching the save in Friday's series opener. He added one walk and struck out five batters.

He entered Sunday's game with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth inning and struck out pinch-hitter Andrew Wishy on a 1-2 curveball, leaving the bases loaded and preserving UA's 1-0 lead.

Tankersley had one win and two saves in his last three appearances out of the pen, all against SEC teams.

"This was a huge win today," Wells said. "I was anxious to see how we would respond after (Saturday) and coming back against a really good No. 1 pitcher. I was happy with the way we came back. We did not hit the ball, but we got good pitching.

"Today was a big win for us. After (Saturday), it would have been for us to lose with (Issacson) on the mound."

Arkansas (12-10, 2-4 SEC) threatened in the fourth and fifth innings against Shane Sanders, but failed to plate a run.

Kirk McConnell doubled to lead off the fourth inning for the first Razorback base runner in the game. Ryan Fox then reached on a two-out error by Sosa at third, but Sanders worked out of trouble as he retired Nick Pitts on a ground ball to second base.

In the fifth, Cody Clark doubled with two outs and Scott Hode reached on Pavkovich's error at short. McConnell walked to load the bases with two outs.

Arkansas then sent Wishy, a left-hander, to the plate to pinch-hit for Cliff Crouse. Alabama coach Jim Wells countered with his left-hand ace Tankersley out of the pen. Tankersley earned the save on Friday night as he got a game-ending ground ball off the bat of Nick Pitts as the Hogs left the bases loaded.

On Sunday, he buckled Wishy's knees with a 1-2 curveball for the strikeout, stranding the bases loaded. He has not a allowed a leadoff batter to reach base against him out of the pen this season and has stranded all 11 inherited runners, including eight in his last three outings.

Sanders threw 4 2/3 innings of shutout baseball and limited the Hogs to just two hits. He added four strikeouts and walked one batter.

"Tankerlsey is a real good pitcher," Wells said. "We are real confident with him on the mound. He is like (Lance) Cormier and is really, really good. "He made some awfully good pitches today. We got another good pitching performance today."

The Razorbacks stranded nine base runners in the game, all after the third inning.

Arkansas tied the game in the sixth on a leadoff solo home run by centerfielder Michael Conner. It was Conner's second home run of the series and seventh of the year.

Alabama regained the lead in the seventh inning on Pavkovich's two-out, two-run home run down the left field line. The home run was Pavkovich's second of the season and first career SEC home run.

Brent Boyd walked to open the inning and moved to second on pinch-hitter Chad White's sacrifice bunt. Boyd moved to third base on Pennington's ground and scored when Pavkovich crushed Issacson's 100th pitch into the left field bullpen to stake the Crimson Tide to a 3-1 lead.

"Pavkovich came through with a Bucky Dent-type home run," Wells added. "That was a huge hit for us and won the game. I was very proud of him today."

Issacson (1-3) was lifted after the seventh inning. The senior allowed three runs on three hits, with four walks and three strikeouts. Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the third inning without benefit of a hit. Spencer Pennington was hit by a pitch to open the inning and moved to second on Adam Pavkovich's sacrifice bunt. Pennington advanced to third on a passed ball Arkansas catcher Cody Clark. After a walk to Scott McClanahan, Carlos Sosa brought Pennington home with a sacrifice fly to center.

Sosa's sacrifice fly ended a 13 2/3 innings scoreless drought by Alabama, dating back to the seventh inning of Friday's season opener. The Crimson Tide was shutout on Saturday for the first time in 100 games, dating back to the 2000 regular-season.

Alabama picked up a key insurance run in the eighth inning on Jeremy Brown's RBI double into the left field corner, scoring Peter Stonard from second base. Stonard drew a one out walk and stole second base to get into scoring position setting up Brown's run-scoring double to give the Crimson Tide a 4-1 lead.

Brown led Alabama with two hits, while Pavkovich had two RBI. Junior DH Beau Hearod's career best 10-game hitting streak was snapped with an 0-for-4 day.

The Razorbacks managed only six hits, with Clark collecting two hits to lead the Hogs.

Following the game the Crimson Tide will travel to Oklahoma City, Okla., where they will face the Oklahoma Sooners at the Bricktown Ballpark Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The Bricktown Ballpark is the home to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League's Oklahoma City Redhawks.

The Crimson Tide is expected to workout in Oklahoma City on Monday and the team is scheduled to visit the Oklahoma City Federal Building Memorial, set up to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the tragic bombing of the Federal Building in 1995.ALABAMA vs Arkansas (Mar 24, 2002)

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