Unearned Runs Help Hogs Prevent Sweep
Coupled with LSU's win at Kentucky, the loss drops Alabama into second place in the SEC West with its 12-12 record. Ole Miss is also 12-12 after this weekend's action while the Tigers hold a half-game lead with a 12-11-1 league mark. Overall, the Crimson Tide is now 28-22 while Arkansas improves to 28-20 overall and 10-13 in SEC play.
"We played well all weekend," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "When you have a chance to sweep in this league, which is so rare, you really want to take advantage of that opportunity, but they are a good team too."
Arkansas scored the winning run on a throwing error by Alabama catcher Kyle Moore with two outs in the eighth inning. Casey Coon led off the inning with a double to left-center field off losing pitcher Will Stroup.
The Razorbacks inserted pinch runner Sean Jones and the Crimson Tide brought in sophomore right hander Austin Graham. Tim Smalling grounded out to third baseman Jake Smith for the first out of the inning. Graham then struck out Brett Eibner for the second out, but Jones stole third on the play and then scored when Moore's throw sailed into left field. Ryan Cisterna grounded out one pitch later to end the inning.
"The game basically came down to a base hit and a ball thrown over the third baseman's head," Wells said. "This was a tough one to lose."
Stroup (5-2) suffered the loss and allowed one run and one hit in 1 1/3 innings.
Arkansas' right-hander Mike Bolsinger (3-0) pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the win. Stephen Richards got the final two outs for his third save.
"Bolsinger pitched well," Wells added. "He kept us off the scoreboard and gave them a chance to win. He did a nice job."
Alabama jumped to a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first when freshman shortstop Ross Wilson slammed a one-out fastball over the Arkansas bullpen in left field. It was Wilson's 10th home run of the season and second in as many days.
Arkansas answered back with two runs on four hits in the bottom of the first inning to take a 2-1 lead. Chase Leavitt, Ben Tschepikow and Logan Forsythe opened the game with three straight singles, with Leavitt scoring on Forsythe's sharp single to right. Casey Coon followed with a one-out base hit through the left side of the infield to score Forsythe with the go-ahead run.
The Razorbacks added two unearned runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 4-1 lead. Ryan Cisterna led off the inning and reached on an error by third baseman Jake Smith. After a sacrifice bunt by Scott Lyons, Leavitt lined a two-strike double down the left field line to score Cisterna. Forsythe later added a two-out single up the middle to score Leavitt to give the Hogs a three-run lead.
After a shaky first two innings, Alabama starter Robert Phares settled down and blanked the Hogs over the next 3 2/3 innings as the Crimson Tide battled back to tie the game. Phares worked 5 2/3 innings and allowed four runs (two earned) and eight hits with two strikeouts and one walk.
"They jumped on us pretty good in the first two innings as you would expect from a team that had lost the first two games," Wells said. "They came out aggressive and scored early. I thought Phares settled down and pitched well."
Alabama cut the lead in half on sophomore Brandon May's two-out double in the top of the third inning. Junior Alex Kubal drew a lead off walk and later scored on May's two-out double off the wall in left as the Tide cut the lead to 4-2.
The Crimson Tide tied the game with a two-out rally in the fourth inning, keyed by Kubal's first career SEC home run, a two-run shot that scored Moore who had singled with one out. Freshman Josh Rutledge and Wilson followed with back-to-back two-out hits before May lined out to center to end the inning.
Alabama chased Arkansas starter Cliff Springston with a pair of two-out singles in the fifth inning, but reliever Mike Boslinger struck out Smith to end the inning as the Tide left two more base runners.
Alabama returns to action next weekend when the Crimson Tide closes out its home schedule against the Florida Gators in a three-game SEC series at Sewell-Thomas Stadium, beginning Friday, May 9 at 6:35 p.m. (CDT).
*Alabama had its five-game winning streak and four-game SEC winning streak snapped on Sunday.
*Freshman shortstop Josh Rutledge (Cullman) extended his hitting streak to 26 games with a two-out single to left field in the fourth inning. The 26-game hitting streak is the fifth longest in school history. During the streak, Rutledge is batting .434 (49 for 113) with six extra base hits, 26 runs scored and 15 RBI.
*Rutledge also set the Alabama single-season record with a 21-game SEC hitting streak, breaking the previous record of 20 games held by Aaron Clark (2001), Andy Phillips (1999) and Sam Bozanich (1998). During the 21-game SEC hitting streak, he is batting .467 (42 for 90) with five extra base hits, nine RBI and 20 runs scored. Rutledge has hit safely in 23 of 24 SEC games this season.
*Junior Alex Kubal (Shorewood, Minn.) hit his third home run of the season in the fourth inning. It was his first home run since March 11 at North Alabama and his first SEC home run.
*Alabama had eight home runs in the Arkansas the series, the most against an SEC opponent this year. The previous high was seven at Tennessee. For the season, Alabama has hit 64 home runs, compared to 57 home runs in 58 games last year.
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