Alabama 8, Arkansas 6

Alabama slammed three homers to defeat Arkansas, 8-6, in the opener of the SEC series Friday night at Baum Stadium.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The long ball had not been a friend through 48 games this season, but Alabama slammed three homers off of Dominic Taccolini in the first four innings to extend Arkansas' misery, 8-6, Friday night in SEC baseball.

It was the annual post-game fireworks at Baum. Alabama had early fireworks, jumping to an 8-2 lead after four innings.

Freshman Cobie Vance started the big fly parade in the first inning with a massive solo shot high up on the batter's eye in straight away center. Will Haynie added a solo shot in a three-run third. Chandler Taylor finished off Taccolini with a three-run homer in the fourth.

Arkansas (26-23, 7-18) is in danger of not making the SEC tournament for the fourth time in program history. They are tied for last place with Tennessee. The last time the Hogs didn't play in the league post-season tournament was in 2008, but they made the NCAA tournament that season. They didn't make post-season in 2000 and 2001. Alabama (28-21, 13-12) is fighting for an NCAA tournament bid.

Alabama had hit only 18 home runs -- fewest in the SEC -- coming into the game, but Taccolini allowed the most runs since the SEC opener against South Carolina when he also gave up eight earned runs.

"He'd had three better outings in a row," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "But it was lack of command of the fast balls and a couple of sliders left up that left the yard."

Van Horn said Alabama's four-run fourth came too fast to get anyone loose in the bullpen.

"It was kinda difficult to get someone hot that quick," he said. "It started with a two-out walk. Give Alabama's hitters credit, they got mistakes and they hit them."

Isaiah Campbell got the final out in the fourth, then mowed down the Tide until giving way to lefty Jordan Rodriguez for the final out in the ninth. Campbell retired 15 of the 16 batters faced, throwing 55 pitches. He might replace Taccolini in the rotation next weekend at Mississippi State.

"He might," Van Horn said. "I think he was disappointed with what he did at LSU and had something to prove. He did a nice job."

Campbell admitted as much.

"It felt really good tonight," he said. "LSU was kind of a setback. Tonight, we were down and I wanted to throw strikes. It was the first time all season to go past four innings and allow no runs."

The Hogs led in hits, 11-8, with Clark Eagan and Grant Koch leading with two apiece. Chad Spanberger had a two-run single. Cpdu Scroggins, Rick Nomura, Carson Shaddy and Eagan all had run scoring singles.

The Hogs climbed back into the game with two in the seventh and eighth.

Alabama starter Geoffrey Bramblett (5-3) pitched six strong innings, allowing five hits, two runs. The Hogs knocked around Sam Finnerty and Matt Foster before closer Thomas Burrows got his 11th save by recording the final five outs.

"There were a lot of bright spots," Van Horn said. "Campbell pitching to the ninth gave us a chance to chip away and we got into their bullpen and made them use their closer. Maybe that comes into play later in the weekend.

"It's just hard to recover down six against a pitcher like Bramblett. He throws nothing but strikes and uses both sides of the plate."

Koch, getting a start at catcher, said Campbell hit his spots, too.

"He executed the pitches called by Coach (Dave) Jorn. He was big."

The second game of the series is at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Carson Shaddy

Cody Scroggins


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