Arnold Carries Hogs To 5-4 Win

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Freshmen usually have to carry other players' equipment, but Clint Arnold got his 40-pound bag dragged to the bus after his two-run triple gave Arkansas a 5-4 win against Alabama in front of 4,386 in Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Friday.

"This is Arnold's bag," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "Whenever a freshman comes up with a winning hit like that, I'm more than happy to take their stuff to the bus."

Arnold looped a 2-2 pitch off the hands that dusted the chalk on the right field line and got away from Alabama outfielder Morrow Thomley. Arnold, hustling around the bases, slid in ahead of the tag after Ben Tschepikow and Craig Gentry scored to create the final margin for the Razorbacks.

After doing a postgame radio interview, Arnold sounded more worried about his bag than what pitch (it was a fastball from Tide closer David Robertson) he hit to win the game.

"Hopefully, some of the guys picked me up," said Arnold, who was in the clean-up spot for the first time. "It was coach Van Horn? That's not good ... That's not who I wanted to help. I would walk home before I would want coach Van Horn to take it.

"I hope he's not upset I left my stuff."

Actually, Van Horn seemed overjoyed with his freshman outfielder, especially since his hit helped snap a 12-game losing streak at Alabama. The last time the Razorbacks won here was in 1995.

"(Arnold's hit) just caught the (foul) line, I think the outside part of the line," Van Horn said. "And we were down to our last pitch, but we had a good inning set up with two fast runners on base."

Van Horn said early patience mixed with a non-panicked attitude allowed the Hogs (36-14, 12-13) to come from behind to win for the third time in their last four Southeastern Conference games.

By fouling off pitches and being selective early on, Arkansas got Alabama starter Wade LeBlanc's pitch count up over 100 by the sixth. Then in the seventh, they put up three runs on three hits off the Tide's ace to take a 3-2 lead.

"We had him at 103 after six innings," Van Horn said. "He probably left with 120-something pitches and it was amazing that we had him at that many pitches with only three hits at the time.

"But that's what helped us bust that open in the seventh."

Alabama (34-17, 14-11), which entered the series tied with LSU for the lead in the SEC Western Division, lost its third game in four tries. Game 2 of the series is scheduled for 4 p.m. today.

"We have to bounce back because this was a tough loss," said Alabama coach Jim Wells. "We didn't break down the game at all (in the postgame meeting with his team) and just want to get focused on (today's game) because that is one of the tougher losses that you can have.

"We came back, we just didn't hold onto it."

Arkansas' comeback was made possible by Hogs starter Nick Schmidt. The freshman left-hander retired 14 of 15 batters he faced after giving up a two-run homer to Kody Valverde that cleared the scoreboard in left in the second inning.

Schmidt allowed just three hits and struck out eight before being relieved by Charley Boyce after walking Valverde to start the seventh inning.

"Obviously, I was a little ticked off after giving up the two-run homer with a 2-0 count," Schmidt said. "I didn't locate my fastball that well the whole game and that was one I left right down the middle."

In the seventh, Clay Goodwin doubled to right center to start the three-run inning. Brian Walker followed with a single and Ben Tschepikow worked a one-out walk to load the bases for Craig Gentry, who laced a two-run double down the left-field line to tie the score at 2-all.

The Razorbacks then took the lead when Jake Dugger, who entered as a pinch hitter in the sixth, hit a sacrifice fly to left that scored Tschepikow from third.

The lead was short-lived, though, as Alabama tied the score at 3-all when Boyce hit Allen Rice with a pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh that scored a run.

Then, Cale Iorg's eight-inning RBI single gave the Tide a 4-3 lead heading into the final inning.

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