Neither rain nor lightning nor Arkansas pitching could slow down Alabama's hitters on Friday night.
Wade Wass and Austen Smith both launched 3-run homers an inning apart as the Crimson Tide pounded out 15 hits, endured nearly an hour weather delay and then pummeled the Razorbacks 17-6 before 4,403 fans at Baum Stadium.
It was the most runs scored against Arkansas since Texas whipped it 19-8 back on June 5, 2005 and the Razorbacks' team ERA jumped from 1.82 to 2.53 after giving up 15 earned runs.
"It was pretty ugly," Razorback head coach Dave Van Horn said. "I guess every now and then this happens. It was just kind of disappointing that it happened tonight."
The game, which started at 6:35, had a 53-minute rain delay for rain and lightning and was not finished until 11:11 p.m.
Alabama (15-6, 3-1) got three runs off Razorback starter Jalen Beeks (3.1 IP, 4 hits, 3 BBs, 4 Ks) in the fourth and then hammered the Arkansas bullpen for 12 runs.
The Razorback bullpen had been a strength coming into the game with a 5-0 record and a 1.80 ERA, but Alabama attacked Zach Jackson, Dominic Taccolini and Landon Simpson as they took the mound after Beeks.
The Arkansas pitchers hit five batters and walked six in a game where Alabama's 4-5-6 hitters – Kyle Overstreet Wass and Smith – combined for six hits and 10 RBIs.
"I don't worry about it (the bullpen) and hopefully they get better because of it," Van Horn said. "Hopefully they won't go the other way. Time to grow up. Just go do it. It's just baseball. That's all it is. Handle it."
Arkansas (11-8, 1-3) actually took a 4-3 lead when Tyler Spoon launched a two-out grand slam in the fourth off Geoffrey Bramlett, who relieved starter Spencer Turbull in the fourth after the weather delay.
Up until that point, the Razorbacks had left a whopping seven baserunners stranded in the first three frames.
"We were just a big hit away from scoring a few runs," Van Horn said. "We finally got that big hit, but obviously it didn't hold up."
Spoon jumped on a first-pitch fastball and jolted the Razorbacks to life and the 4-3 lead.
"I felt like we had a lot of momentum on our side at that point," Spoon said. "But unfortuately things happened."
What happened was Alabama responding with five runs in the top of the fifth - including Wass' first homer of the season - to take the lead for good.
A potential inning-ending double play ball was booted by Razorback fill-in shortstop Michael Bernal that allowed two runs to score and the Crimson Tide to go up 5-4.
A batter later, Wass jumped all over a pitch and took it over the wall for an 8-4 advantage and that five spot made a winner out of reliever Jay Shaw, who hurled four innings.
"There were a couple of big plays in the ballgame," Van Horn said. "The double play gets us in the dugout with a 4-3 lead heading into the sixth, but it didn't happen.
"We score four, they score five," Van Horn added. "That's not good. We had a chance for it to be we score four and they don't score any and it didn't happen."
Arkansas then cut it to 8-6 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth when Eric Fisher doubled in a run and another scored on Andrew Benintendi's fielder's choice.
But Alabama then put it away with seven runs in the sixth – including Smith driving his 3-run homer - as the visitors took a 15-6 edge.
Van Horn was incensed about a pickoff play that preceeded the last cluster of runs in the sixth and let the umpire know about it.
"I thought we did a good job executing that pick off and we felt like we got him," Van Horn said. "That would have been two outs, runners and first and third, down 8-6 with an 0-2 count on the hitter. We never got to see what happened then and he (Taccolini) hangs a pitch and our right fielder (Andrew Benintendi) dove for the ball or something...but it was pretty ugly."
The Crimson Tide then added a pair in the top of the ninth to cap their scoring.
Bobby Wernes, who had three of Arkansas' 11 hits, doubled in a run and Josh Alberius – who finish up on the with 2/3 of a inning on the mound – added an run-scoring groudout in the ninth as the Razorbacks plated a trio of runs.
Benintendi had two hits and two RBIs for Arkansas, who Van Horn said could bring Beeks back for an inning or two on Sunday.
Arkansas and Alabama will meet in the second of the three-game series Saturday at 2:05 p.m. with Trey Killian taking the mound for the Razorbacks.
"The positives are that we just have to take the momentum that we had at the end of the game and take it into tomorrow," Spoon said. "We just kept battling, kept fighting, kept chipping away. It was important that we come to the ballpark tomorrow and keep doing that."
Alabama 17, Arkansas 9
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