Alabama Rallies To Beat Hogs

Senior Kent Matthes regained the NCAA home run lead with a two-run blast in the seventh inning, his 24th home run of the season, to lift No. 22 Alabama to an 8-6 series-clinching win over No. 11 Arkansas on "Senior Day" at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Matthes' snapped a 6-6 tie with a two-run blast to left field to put Alabama in front 8-6. It was his second game-winning RBI in as many days and ninth of the season. In addition, 10 of his 24 home runs this season have given UA the lead.

The senior also tied the Alabama career record with his 22nd career outfield assist in the fourth inning. Scott McClanahan (1999-2002) also had 22 career assists.

The tandem of sophomore right-handers Jimmy Nelson and Nathan Kilcrease turned in one of the better relief outings of the season, holding Arkansas to one run on three hits over the final 5 1/3 innings to secure the win.

Kilcrease (3-2) pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for his second SEC win in the last seven days. Nelson worked three innings with no walks and six strikeouts. He struck out the first five batters he faced. His only blemish was leadoff solo home run by James McCann that tied the game at 6-6 in the seventh inning.

"That was the story of the game, because I felt like we would come back, we always do," Alabama Coach Jim Wells said. "Nelson pitched well last year against (Arkansas) and has done well of late. So that was a big boost, not only for this game, but the rest of the year.

"Our bullpen for one of the first times in a meaningful game, more than one person did a good job. We came back from an early deficit. It was a good game.."

Alabama (34-15, 16-9 SEC) immediately answered with two runs in the bottom of the seventh off Sam Murphy. Sophomore second baseman Ross Wilson lined a one-out single to center and scored on Matthes' towering home run to left field. Matthes has homered in eight of UA's nine SEC series' this season and all five SEC home series.

Murphy (2-1) took the loss after he allowed three runs and two hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Alabama grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning on three straight singles by Kent Matthes, Brandon May and Jake Smith.

Arkansas (31-16, 14-11 SEC) tied the game in the top of the third inning Kuhn hit a solo home run to left field.

The fourth inning provided some fireworks as the two teams combined for six runs and six hits with a bench-clearing altercation that ended without incident.

The Razorbacks loaded the bases with no outs against Del Howell. Andrew Darr stroked a leadoff single before Bo Bigham walked and Tim Carver was hit by a pitch. Jarrod McKinney followed with two-run double to right-center field to score two runs, but Carver was thrown out the plate on a relay throw from Kent Matthes to Ross Wilson to Vin DiFazio. Carver ran over DiFazio, who held the ball for the out, before the benches emptied and order was quickly was restored with a warning issued to both teams.

Following the collision at the plate, Kuhn hit his second home run of the game and third of the series, to put the Hogs in front 5-1.

Howell, who left after yielding the two-run home run, was charged with five runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Alabama answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning to pull to within 5-3. The inning started with three straight hits by May, Smith and DiFazio. May slapped a leadoff single and then scored on Smith's triple down the left field line that hit the fence and ricocheted past Darr in left field. DiFazio followed with an RBI single to cut the lead to two before Arkansas starter T.J. Forrest retired the next three hitters.

The Crimson Tide grabbed the lead with three runs in the fifth to take a 6-5 lead. Josh Rutledge stroked a leadoff triple and scored on Wilson's single to left to pull the Tide to within 5-4.

Murphy replaced Forrest and yielded a two-run home run to May, his 11th of the season, to put the Tide in front 6-5. Forrest allowed five runs on eight hits in four-plus innings and did not figure into the decision.

Kilcrease pitched around a two-out walk in the eighth inning and pitched around a single and walk in the ninth. Jarrod McKinney led off the ninth with a bunt single, but was quickly erased when pinch-hitter Jacob House rapped into a 1-6-3 double play. Collin Kuhn drew a two-out walk before Scott Lyons lined out to Wilson to end the game.

The two teams will wrap up the series on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. (CDT).

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