Bama Gives Hogs Free Pass in Game One

It's hard to imagine losing a game when you give up only four hits.

It is not hard to imagine losing the game when you issue a school-record 16 walks.

That's exactly what happened Friday night in Fayetteville as a trio of University of Alabama pitchers combined to walk a school-record 16 batters in a 4-3, 11-inning loss to No. 14 Arkansas in front of 8,089 fans on a chilly night at Baum Stadium.

Wade LeBlanc (7), David Robertson (4) and Jake McCarter (5) walked 16 Razorback hitters to shatter the school record of 13 walks set against Auburn on March 30, 1987 and April 26, 1987.

McCarter walked two batters in the decisive 11th inning to allow the Razorbacks to win the series opener and gain ground on the No. 6 Crimson Tide.

James Ewing started the winning rally when he reached on an infield single that glanced off McCarter's glove. After a wild pitch, Danny Hamblin was intentionally walked to set up a potential inning-ending double play and then McCarter unintentionally walked Steven Robison to load the bases.

McCarter then fell behind Jake Dugger, who had walked in each of his first five trips to the plate, and then came back to strike out the Razorbacks left fielder for the second out. Dugger slammed his bat at the feet of home plate umpire Rick Darby, who immediately ejected Dugger from the game.

Backup third baseman Logan Forsythe then slapped a 2-2 pitch up the middle to score Ewing with the winning run as the Hogs grabbed a 4-3 win.

McCarter (6-1) suffered his first loss of the season. He worked 1 2/3 innings and allowed one run and two hits, with five walks and one strikeout.

Arkansas (32-15, 12-10 SEC) doubled its hit total with two hits in the 11th inning and finished the game with four hits.

"The story of the game was the 16 walks," Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. "We could not overcome the 16 walks, even though we gave up only four hits. This is very frustrating. It's tough enough to win in this league, but to give one away makes it tougher."

Arkansas stranded 16 base runners in the win, including leaving the bases loaded in the 10th inning against McCarter. The Hogs loaded the bases in the 10th with one out, but did not score. They came within a strike of repeating that feat in the 11th.

Alabama (34-14, 15-7 SEC) managed seven hits in the loss, but only one in the final four innings against the Arkansas bullpen.

Devin Collis (7-2) earned the win as he retired all six batters he faced.

LeBlanc walked a career-high seven batters in six-plus innings and Robertson added five walks in three innings.

Arkansas starter Nick Schmidt walked a season-high five batters in his seven innings of work.

Arkansas took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Jake Dugger drew a lead off walk and scored on Brian Walker's double to left-center field. It was Walker's ninth two-base hit of the season.

Alabama tied the game with a run on two hits in third inning. The Crimson Tide put the first two runners on base against Schmidt when Belcher reached on an infield hit and Paiml walked. After Salem lined out to shortstop Matt Willard for the first out, Downs lined a hit-and-run single up the middle to score Belcher and tie the game at 1-1.

The Crimson Tide added another run without the benefit of a hit in the fourth inning to take a 2-1 lead, but failed to add to its lead after the leaving the bases loaded with less than two outs.

Alabama stranded 13 base runners in the loss.

Bush drew a lead off walk and Rhoden reached on an error by second baseman James Ewing. Pennington reached first base on fielder's choice when Schmidt fielded his sac bunt failed to retire Bush at third to load the bases. Belcher then hit a slow grounder Willard at short who forced Rhoden at third for the first out of the inning. Belcher was awarded the RBI as Bush scored the go-ahead run as Bama took a 2-1 lead.

Paiml walked on four pitches to load the bases, but Schmidt wriggled of the hook when Salem line out to second and Downs flied out to the warning track in left to end the threat.

Alabama extended its lead to 3-1 in the seventh inning when Bush ripped a two-out double over the head of left fielder Jake Dugger and scored on Rhoden's two-out single to center.

Arkansas plated two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game at 3-3. The Razorbacks took advantage of a pair of walks, a failed double play and an error to tie the game.

Walker led off the inning with a solo home run, his fourth of the season, to pull the Hogs to within 3-2. Willard then drew a walk on an 11-pitch plate appearance to chase LeBlanc.

The UA junior allowed three earned runs and two hits in six-plus innings with a career-high seven walks and an SEC season-high nine strikeouts.

Junior right-hander David Robertson replaced LeBlanc and got a sharp ground ball from Gentry, but the Tide was only able to get one out as Paiml appeared to be tardy covering second base and UA could only cut down the lead runner.

Failing to turn the double play loomed large as Gentry stole second base, took third on a Valverde throwing error and the scored the tying run on a wild pitch. Robertson then issued a two-out walk to Ewing, but avoided further damage when he struck out Hamblin to end the inning.

The series continues with a 4:05 p.m. game on Saturday in Fayetteville. Junior right-hander Bernard Robert (6-3, 4.00 ERA) will pitch for the Tide against junior right-hander Darryl Maday (0-0, 2.21 ERA), who will be making his first career SEC start.

GAME NOTES:

*Alabama is 2-4 in extra ininngs and all four losses have come in the 11th inning.

*Salem singled in the top of the first inning and is now 22-for-42 (.524) in the first inning this season, including a

remarkable 9-for-9 (1.000) with a walk in the last nine games. The leadoff single also tied the UA record for most consecutive times on base at 12 straight. Mick Kerns also reached base 12 consecutive times in 1991.

*LeBlanc made his first career Friday night SEC start here at Baum Stadium on April 2, 2004 in a 6-3 Crimson Tide win. He worked 4 2/3 innings and allowed three runs (one earned) and six hits, with three walks and seven strikeouts. LeBlanc has three career no decisions, including Friday's game, against the Hogs.

*With nine strikeouts in the game, LeBlanc now has 299 career strikeouts for the Crimson Tide. He is one shy of becoming the second UA pitcher with 300 career strikeouts. LeBlanc is also eight strikeouts shy of Brent Carter's (2002-05) all-time record of 307 strikeouts.

*Avila tied the Alabama single-game record with five strikeouts. He was 0-for-5 in the series opener and had four strikeouts looking. He shares the record with Brent Reese, who also struck out five times against Auburn on April 22, 1989. Avila was 0-for-6 in the loss.

*Arkansas' Jake Dugger walked five times in the game to tie his career high.


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