Hogs Sweep Tide In SEC Baseball
It was the third consecutive game in the series in which Alabama had the lead, only to lose to Arkansas. The first two Razorbacks wins in the series came by one run each.
The Razorbacks (18-5, 4-2 SEC) erased a two-run deficit with four runs in the sixth inning to take 6-4 lead. Arkansas hit three home runs in the inning, including solo home runs by Collin Kuhn and Zack Cox and a two-run shot by Wilkins.
Trailing 4-2 entering the bottom of the sixth, Kuhn jump started the Hogs with a tape-measure home run that hit the batter's eye in center field off UA right-hander Adam Scott to close the gap to 4-3. Cox followed with a two-out home run to left-center off Scott to tie the game.
Monk Kreder, who had stranded eight runners in his first three at-bats, greeted senior left-hander David Head with a base hit and then scored on Wilkins' opposite field home run to left-center as Arkansas took its first lead at 6-4.
Arkansas added four more runs in the seventh, highlighted by Brett Eibner's three-run home run, to take a 10-4 lead.
T.J Forrest (4-0) earned the win with 1 1/3 innings of relief. It was his third win on the mound this week and second in the series against Alabama.
The Razorbacks scored eight runs and collected eight hits off four Alabama relief pitchers in the series finale. Scott (0-1) was the losing pitcher for Alabama after he allowed three runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning out of the pen.
"They really today kind of exposed the bullpen," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We had to double up on some guys and they took advantage of that. Offensively it was a nice match-up for them with the wind blowing out and they have such a powerful lineup, especially in the middle. All three of their guys delivered big home runs."
Alabama (16-6, 2-4 SEC) loaded the bases with one out in the eighth and plated a run on junior catcher Brock Bennett's ground out that closed the gap to 10-5.
After losing the first two games by a combined two runs, Alabama got off to a fast start in the series finale with four runs in the first inning, highlighted by junior second baseman Ross Wilson's three-run home run.
Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge, who in the leadoff spot for the first time this season, drove the first pitch of the game into right-center field for a base hit. The leadoff single extended his team-best hitting streak to 16 games. Rutledge advanced to second when Arkansas shortstop Matt Reynolds dropped a throw at second base on sophomore Taylor Dugas' sacrifice bunt attempt. Wilson then slammed the next pitch over the wall in left for the 3-0 lead, just three pitches into the game. Senior first baseman Clay Jones followed with a walk and later scored on junior left fielder Chris Smelley's sacrifice fly to center to give Alabama a 4-0 lead.
"After building an early 4-0 lead, their pitching settled in nicely and put up a bunch of zeroes and allowed them to get it in it, take the lead and put the game away late."
Arkansas quickly got back in the game with two runs in the bottom of the first inning on two-out hits by Wilkins and Tim Carver to cut the lead to 4-2.
After a first inning in which both teams combined for six runs and six hits, both starting pitchers settled down and gave their team's five innings on Sunday. Alabama starter Taylor Wolfe held Arkansas to two runs on five hits in five innings with five walks and one strikeout. Arkansas starter Russell Fant also went five innings and allowed four runs and four hits with two walks and one strikeout.
Arkansas out-hit Alabama, 14-7, in the series finale and the Tide managed only four hits after the four-run first inning.
Alabama will host Jacksonville State on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. (CDT) at Sewell-Thomas Stadium and will play UAB on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. (CDT) at Regions Park in Hoover. The Crimson Tide will host Auburn next weekend in Tuscaloosa.
*Alabama juggled its lineup on Sunday in hopes to generate a little more offense. Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge and sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas flipped spots in the order, as did sophomore DH Jon Kelton and senior third baseman Jake Smith. In addition, junior Chris Smelley made his SEC debut with a start in left field and senior Cal Tinsley made his first career SEC start in right field in the series finale. Tinsley was 1-for-3 in five SEC games in 2009.
*Alabama has outscored its opponents 24-3 in the first inning this season. The Crimson Tide scored four runs in the top of the first inning on Sunday and has now scored 24 first-inning runs this season. The Tide allowed two runs in the bottom of the first inning and has yielded three first-inning runs this season. Vanderbilt scored the only other first-inning run against Alabama last Sunday (March 21) in Tuscaloosa.
*Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge went 3-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 17 games, an Alabama season best. During the streak, Rutledge is hitting .403 (29-for-72) with 18 runs scored, nine extra base hits and 18 RBI.
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