Alabama 7, Arkansas 4

Arkansas comes one strike away from ending its skid, but Alabama rallies with four runs in the ninth to hand the Razorbacks a 7-4 loss on Sunday at Baum Stadium. It is the program's ninth straight loss and the most in a row for the team since 1965.

With Alabama down to its last strike, Georgie Salem came through just like he did the whole day for the Crimson Tide.

Salem homered, doubled and singled, the latter a two-out, two-strike dagger in the ninth off Razorback reliever James Teague that gave the Crimson Tide a 5-4 lead en route to a 7-4 win on Sunday before 3,233 fans at Baum Stadium.

Will Haynie added a two-run single in the ninth as well as Alabama (30-21, 15-12) swept the weekend series from Arkansas (26-25, 7-20), which has now lost nine straight games - the most since 1965.

“Just another tough loss,” Razorback head coach Dave Van Horn said. “One pitch away from ending the game. Just a tough bunch of pitchers that they have over there. They don’t give you much.

“We got that lead and we felt like we had a shot, obviously, and they end up getting four hits in one inning and that’s kind of been the story of what’s going on. 

“A pitch not located. It’s kind of hard to put into words be honest with you. But give credit to our guys for fighting.”

Arkansas and Tennessee are both 7-20 in league standings - tied for the worst record in the league - and behind Auburn and Missouri's 8-19 marks. Only 12 of the 14 SEC teams make the league tournament.

Hawaii native and senior second baseman Rick Nomura had put Arkansas in position to end the skid when he launched a two-run blast in the bottom of the eighth to rally the Razorbacks to a 5-4 advantage.

Nomura, who had failed with runners in scoring position on Saturday night, thought his homer might end the skid.

“Well, for me I kind of just let things go,” Nomura said.  That's kind of my mentality. There's a new day. Baseball is such  game of failure. It's more of a mental game than anything. 

“It's like what Yogi Berra said, what'd he say, 90 percent of the game is mental and half is physical - or 10 percent or something like that. It's a tough game and it's a mental grind out there, especially in the SEC.”

Van Horn, whose team was outhit 10-4, obviously loved Nomura jumping on the first pitch and riding it out of the park.

“To see him step to the plate and he didn’t waste any time,” Van Horn said. “He got a fast ball in and he got his hands inside the ball and the ball jumped off the bat.  I didn’t know if it was going to go out over left  but I knew it was going to go over his head and we were going to tie the game. 

“When it left the park obviously we were all excited and just hoping our pitchers would go out there and finish it up for us.”

Taking the lead that late and still losing made the loss even more painful for the Arkansas squad.

“It’s hard to get worse than this,” Van Horn said of the way Arkansas lost. “If it go wrong, it will.  We just have to execute. If we execute things, it’s probably over there but Teague hadn’t pitched but one inning, he got two outs the inning before, he was fresh. He’s a returner. He’s done it and he was excited to go back out and he just didn’t locate.”

Van Horn sent Teague back to the mound in the ninth after he got one out in the eighth.

Teague loaded the bases and had Salem 1-2 with two outs before letting him line a single to center.

That was followed by Haynie’s two-run single off Teague, who stayed in the game despite lefty Jordan Rodriguez being an option against the lefty-swinging Salem.

“Oh, yeah,” Van Horn said. “He (Rodriguez) was ready to go and the decision was made to go with the guy who was already in there. Obviously hindsight is 20-20. 

“But Teague had him right where he wanted. He had him 1-2. He had thrown two fast balls that were away over the third base area and called fast ball in. We were going to bust him, freeze him, jam him and the pitch was right down the middle and he just smoked it right through the middle. 

“I mean we had the defense set up for a fast ball in. He threw a pitch in and it was hard. Give credit to Salem.  We made a mistake and he made us pay.”

Alabama had taken to a 3-2 in the top of the eighth on consecutive wild pitches by Zach Jackson, the second one allowing Cobie Vance to score with the go-ahead run.

“It was pretty tough,” Van Horn said. “The run they scored to take the lead there, I think they got one hit that inning. He had walked a batter and had one at second with two outs and two pitches later, we have a wild pitch, a wild pitch and they are winning and they’ve only got one hit.

The Crimson Tide jumped out in front 1-0 in the second when  Salem hit a two-out solo homer in the top of the first off of Arkansas starting pitcher Blaine Knight.

The Razorbacks rallied to take 2-1 lead in the second when Greg Koch’s double plated Cullen Gassaway and Jake Arledge’s fielder’s choice brought home Nomura.

Alabama tied it 2-2 in the third when Salem drove home Daniel Cucjan in the third.

Knight pitched into the fifth on Sunday while allowing four hits and two runs, walking one and fanning four and throwing 66 pitches.

 I thought it went pretty well for the most part,” Knight said. “I had control issues. There at the beginning I was leaving the ball up. I was on the right spots, it's just it was up. 

“The one the guy hit out, I missed a spot. Instead of the outer half, it was middle or inner third and he put a good swing on it. Other than that it went pretty well for the most part.”

Jackson threw 55 pitches in three innings, Teague 40 and Roridguez three.

Arkansas will host its home finale Tuesday night when Missouri State comes in for a 6:30 p.m. game.

The Bears downed the Razorbacks 14-6 in Springfield on May 3 - a loss that was the third in the current slide.


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