Pigs Roasted

By the time Alex Avila's sixth-inning home run blast to right field came to rest in the Coleman Coliseum parking lot Friday game was well in hand for the Crimson Tide. Most of the damage had already been done.

"My first at bat I was just really aggressive," Avila said. "He came at me with fastballs and left one out over the plate and I took advantage of it."

Alabama hitters took advantage of the misfiring Arkansas ace Nick Schmidt for five runs in the early innings, propelling the Tide to a series opening 10-0 win over the Southeastern Conference Western Division leader. Alabama racked up 13 hits. Ten of them were singles, but Avila provided the power with a triple and home run and four runs batted in.

"You need him to be able to at least have good at bats," Alabama Head Coach Jim Wells said. "Some teams have three or four guys that are like the three-hole hitter, but we need him to be a tough out. Tonight he came up with some big hits."

Avila had started the day with an RBI triple in the first inning, then came around to score when Elvin Vargas hit a two-out single to give Bama a 2-0 lead. It could have been more in the first, but that chance was squandered when Matt Bentley was thrown out trying to score from second on the play, his slide barely reaching the right-handed batter's box.

Bama added three runs in the fourth, three in the fifth and two in the sixth – not without help from the Hogs.

"Schmidt didn't have his best stuff tonight," Wells said, "and they walked some guys and helped us out. That happens in baseball. I remember (Alabama pitcher Wade) LeBlanc starting up there last year and walking a bunch of guys."

And the Razorbacks played defense like little leaguers, committing five errors and generally losing track of the ball.

Schmidt entered Friday night's game 9-1, and holding opposing hitters to a league-best .197 average. Alabama tagged him for five runs off seven hits. Schmidt walked four men, too.

Alabama starter Tommy Hunter (6-4) was overpowering, allowing just one hit through the first five and two third innings. Hunter said he'd been working on changing his arm angle in order to get more velocity.

"It was about fifth inning when I got one by Hamblin, that felt pretty good," he said. "It was fortunate enough I came out here tonight and did what I worked on in the bullpen. We get the 8th run in the fifth inning, and from then it's just filling it up and throwing strikes."

He worked eight innings and threw 126 pitches, giving up five hits and walking two batters.

Wells said, "It's huge to score first. It doesn't always mean you win the game, but it's a high percentage deal."

Designated hitter Elvin Vargas picked up three hits in the designated hitter spot, and Greg Paiml was 3 for 4 with two runs batted in from the nine-hole.

Game two of the series is scheduled for 4:05 on Saturday afternoon.


BamaMag Top Stories