HOOVER, Ala - University of Arkansas ace Nick Schmidt twirled a two-hitter and Danny Hamblin belted a 3-run homer as the Razorbacks blanked Alabama 6-0 Wednesday morning in the opening round of the SEC Tournament.
Schmidt (10-3) was pitching a no-hitter for through the top of the eighth when Brandon May broke it up with a single.
"He did a tremendous job," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said after the win. "This is the Nick Schmidt that we have come to know for the last three years."
The victory was Schmidt's first in his last four outings and his teammates backed him with seven hits and an early 5-0 lead when Hamblin's 21st homer of the year left the park in the third inning.
"He has thrown better his last two outings, we just haven't helped him very much offensively," Van Horn said. "But we put together a good game plan against Alabama and (pitcher) Tommy Hunter and Nick did his part."
The SEC Western Division champion Razorbacks (39-18) had lost their last three series and 6 of 9 games coming into Wednesday.
But this win advances them to the second round and a 5 p.m. game on Thursday to play the South Carolina-Florida winner.
"That was a big win for us because we haven't played well the last couple of series and hadn't put together a couple of good games in a row," Van Horn said. "He (Schmidt) gave us a great effort and got us into the next round."
Schmidt fanned six and walked a pair in his outing – which was a pitching rematch of two weeks ago when Hunter (7-5) and the Tide (31-25) bested Schmidt and the Razorbacks 9-1.
"He spotted his fast ball away and threw his breaking ball for a strike and busted them in," Van Horn said. "They have some dangerous hitters and they got after him a couple of weeks ago."
Arkansas scored five of its six runs with two outs, including the three on Hamblin's homer that tied Ryan Lundquist for the school record with 56 career swats.
First base was open, but Hunter chose to pitch to Hamblin.
"That has been the way we have played all year until the last three series where we couldn't buy a two-out hit or a two-out run," Van Horn said. "That is why we lost a few more games than we thought we should have.
"But the guys did a great job of getting it done with two outs today," Van Horn added. "Those are the most devastating RBIs to the other team when you score with two outs."
Hamblin got the scoring started when he drew a two-out walk in the second inning, stole a base and came home for a 1-0 lead when Wayne Hrozek singled him in.
The same formula worked in the third inning when Coon singled with one out, stole second and rode home Brian Walker's RBI hit that made it 2-0.
After Logan Forsythe walked and Jeff Nutt was retired, Hamblin went yard for a 5-0 lead.
Jake Dugger's RBI single – a bunt with two outs - in the sixth scored Hrozek for a 6-0 advantage.
"We tried to steal four or five times, we tried to hit and run four or five times and we bunted more than normal," Van Horn said. "That's because we haven't been swinging the bats real well and felt we needed to generate some offense. We worked on it all week and got up early all week because we knew we were playing an early game.
"Our guys had that look in their eye today," Van Horn added. "I was real proud of them."
Arkansas 6, Alabama 0
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