Alabama Home Runs Lead Win Over Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Alabama stroked a season-high five home runs en route to an 11-6 series-clinching win over Arkansas in front of 8,349 fans at Baum Stadium Saturday afternoon.

The victory extends Alabama's winning streak to five games and clinched the first Southeastern Conference road series win of the 2008 season.

With the win, Alabama improves to 28-21 overall and 12-11 in SEC play, marking the first time this season the Tide has been over .500 in league play. The Crimson Tide remains in a first-place tie with Ole Miss in the SEC Western Division standings. The Rebels beat Georgia 9-4 on Saturday in Athens. Arkansas drops to 27-20 overall and 9-13 in conference play.

Alabama erased a one-run deficit in the eighth inning by scoring six runs on seven hits to take an 8-3 lead.

Freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge started the eighth inning with a single to right and then stole second base. Junior Alex Avila followed with base hit to right to score Rutledge from second base with the tying run. Sophomore Brandon May followed with a two-run home run into the Arkansas bullpen in left field to give Alabama a 5-3 lead. It was May's second home run of the game and eighth of the season, with seven of those coming on the road.

Junior Kent Matthes followed with a solo home run to left-center to give the Tide a 6-3 lead. It was Matthes' ninth home run of the season and the second time in the game Alabama hit back-to-back home runs. On the season, the Tide has hit consecutive home runs six times.

Junior Kyle Moore lined a two-out single to center and scored on junior Tyler Odle's triple into the right field corner to give the Tide a 7-3 lead.

Odle's triple chased Arkansas starter Justin Wells, who was touched for eight runs and 12 hits in 7 2/3 innings. He added 10 strikeouts and didn't walk a batter.

Sophomore Jake Smith greeted reliever Sam Murphy with an RBI single to score Odle and put the Tide in front 8-3.

Alabama tacked on three more runs in the ninth inning to take an 11-3 lead. Freshman Ross Wilson led off the inning with a solo home run to left field, his ninth of the season. Avila followed with a walk and scored on May's RBI double to left field and Moore added an RBI double to make it 11-3.

Arkansas made it interesting the bottom of the ninth as Ben Tscehpikow slammed a three-run home run into the right field bullpen to make the score 11-6 but Josh Copeland ended the Razorback rally by inducing ground outs to Jeff Nutt and Casey Coon.

Senior Will Stroup (5-1) benefitted from the late-inning outburst to pick up is fifth win of the season. He worked 2 1/3 innings and allowed two hits and struck out one batter.

After a scoreless three innings, Alabama and Arkansas combined for five runs and eight hits in the fourth inning as the Razorbacks took a 3-2 lead.

Alabama broke into the scoring column with back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning by Avila and May to take a 2-0 lead. Avila's 12th home run of the season was line-drive into the right field bullpen, while May's seventh home run was a shot to left-center field.

Senior Matt Bentley and Moore followed with back-to-back one out singles, but the Hogs avoided further trouble as Wells struck out Odle and Smith, leaving two runners in scoring position.

Arkansas answered with three runs on four hits in the bottom of the inning, scoring the tying and go-ahead runs with two outs. Tschepikow led off the inning with a triple to center field and scored on Logan Forsythe's ground out to make it 2-1. Coon's two-out single to left kept the inning alive and Tim Smalling and Brett Eibner followed with back-to-back, run-scoring doubles as the Hogs forged ahead 3-2.

The Razorbacks maintained its one-run lead until the Tide offense exploded in the final two innings.

Alabama and Arkansas wrap up this three-game series on Sunday, May 4 at 1:05 p.m. at Baum Stadium. Junior right-hander Robert Phares (2-3, 6.22 ERA) will pitch for Alabama, while Arkansas will counter with junior left hander Cliff Springston (5-2, 3.74 ERA).


*Alabama has won five straight games and is seven games over .500 for the first time all season. The Crimson Tide is one-game over .500 in SEC play for the first time this year. Alabama has won four straight conference games, equaling its longest winning streak of the year. The Tide won four straight SEC games against Vanderbilt (March 22-23) and Ole Miss (March 28-29).

*Alabama hit a season-high five home runs on Saturday, including two by sophomore left fielder Brandon May (Marietta, Ga.) and one each from juniors DH Alex Avila (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) and Kent Matthes (Orlando, Fla.) and freshman Ross Wilson (Hoover, Ala.).

*The five home runs are the most by Alabama since swatting five home runs against Cincinnati on Feb. 21, 2004. The five homers are the most in an SEC game since the Tide hit five against Ole Miss on April 22, 2000.

*Avila and May hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning and May and Matthes hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning. In all, Alabama has hit consecutive home runs six times this year.

*The Crimson Tide has 62 home runs this season, surpassing last year's total of 58 home runs in 57 games.

*Alabama scored eight of its 11 runs in the fourth and eighth inning on Saturday. The Tide put two runs on the board in the fourth inning and added six runs in the eighth. In the two game series, Alabama has scored 17 of its 22 runs in the fourth and eighth innings. UA scored six runs in the fourth inning in the series opener and added three eighth-inning runs on Friday.

*Alabama has scored 49 runs in its last four games, which includes wins over Auburn (17-7), Samford (10-6) and Arkansas (11-7 and 11-6). The Tide has scored 39 runs in its last three SEC games.

*Avila is 54 for 150 (.360) in his last 39 games for the Tide. He has hit safely in 25 of his last 28 games, where he is batting ..373 (41 for 110) with 27 runs scored, eight doubles, one triple, six home runs and 28 RBI. Since April 2, Avila has hit safely in 18 of his last 19 games. In those 19 games, he is batting .427 (32 for 75) with 18 runs scored, seven doubles, one triple, four home runs and 22 RBI. He is riding an eight-game hitting streak, where he is batting .517 (15 for 29) with 11 runs scored, two doubles, two home runs and 11 RBI. Avila has hit safely in 20 of 23 SEC games this season.

*May has now hit safely in 18 of his last 19 games, dating back to April 6. In those 19 games, May is batting .412 (33 for 80) with 22 runs scored, eight doubles, six home runs and 19 RBI. May is currently riding a nine-game hitting streak, where he is batting .368 (14 for 38) with 12 runs scored, three doubles, three home runs and seven RBI.

*Freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge extended his hitting streak to 25 games with an infield single in the first inning. Rutledge finished the game with two hits and continues to lead the SEC with 81 hits this season. During the hitting streak, Rutledge is batting .440 (48 for 109) with six extra base hits, 26 runs scored and 15 RBI. Rutledge tied the Alabama single-season record by extending his SEC hitting streak to 20 games. He shares the record with Aaron Clark (2001), Andy Phillips (1999) and Sam Bozanich (1998). During the 20-game SEC hitting streak, Rutledge is hitting .478 (41 for 86) with five extra base hits, nine RBI and 20 runs scored.

*Matthes has three home runs in the series with Arkansas. He has four hits and six RBI in the series. He has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games, dating back to April 12. In those 13 games, he is hitting .409 (20 for 49) with 13 runs scored, three doubles, four home runs and 14 RBI. He has also hit safely in 10 of his last 11 SEC games, where he is hitting .356 (16 for 45) with eight runs scored, three doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI.

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