Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Benjamin Krain

Arkansas Razorbacks 7, Alabama Crimson Tide 1

Arkansas' ace helped the Razorbacks win their series-opener at Alabama.

Blaine Knight turned in a masterful performance as Arkansas took the series-opener at Alabama.

The sophomore right-hander retired 19 straight at one point and the Razorbacks (21-5, 6-1 SEC) beat the Crimson Tide 7-1 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Friday night.

It was a shaky start for Knight, who gave up a leadoff single to Cobie Vance and a two-out RBI single to Hunter Alexander in the first inning. However, he settled in and didn't allow another base runner until Tanner DeVinny hit a leadoff double in the eighth.

Six 1-2-3 innings were in between and the stretch ended two shy of tying the UA record for consecutive batters retired. After DeVinny's double, Knight set down the next three Alabama batters to get out of the inning.

He picked up the victory to improve to 4-1 on the season and finished the game with one earned run on three hits and no walks while striking out seven in eight innings.

The performance improved his ERA to 2.23 and his NCAA-best strikeout-to-walk ratio to 24, as he has 48 strikeouts and only two walks. Entering the day, no other pitcher in Division I had a ratio better than 14.

Arkansas' offense gave Knight plenty of run support, starting with Luke Bonfield's two-run home run in the third inning that gave the Razorbacks the lead.

They ended up scoring seven runs on 17 hits and had at least one base runner in every inning. Every starter got a hit and Bonfield - who also had an RBI single in the fourth - led a trio of Arkansas players with three hits.

He went 3 for 5 with three RBIs, while Jake Arledge went 3 for 4 with a double and one RBI and Jared Gates went 3 for 3 with three singles. With the performance, Gates snapped a 0 for 6 start to the season since returning from a hand injury.

The Razorbacks will have a chance to clinch their third consecutive SEC series Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.


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