Fighting Razorbacks

Zack Cox not only had a career-high six RBIs in Arkansas' 9-8 win over Alabama Friday night, but also was involved in a play at third base that cleared the benches and seemed to help the late comeback.

FAYETTEVILLE - It was proven Friday night that there is a lot of fight in the University of Arkansas baseball team – literally and figuratively.

Zack Cox had six RBIs as the Razorbacks rallied from 5-0 and 8-5 deficits to knock out Alabama 9-8 Friday night.

In the middle of the rally was a bench-clearing incident that involved Cox and Alabama base-runner Brandt Hendricks, who was tagged out after trying to get back to third on an ill-advised double-steal.

"He just came running straight toward me and I just wanted to make sure I got the out," Cox said. "I don't really know what he was doing. I didn't say anything because that is just not the type of player I am. I didn't go down so I wasn't too worried about it. He's the one that went down."

Cox' three-run homer started the first comeback, his bases-clearing double tied it in the eighth and he then scored what proved to be the game-winner on Monk Kreider's two-out grounder that was booted later in the inning.

"That builds a lot of character," Cox said. "We have got to remember that during the postseason – even if we are down we came still come back."

Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said he considered walking Cox and forcing in a run, but chose to have reliever Brett Whittaker try to nibble around the plate.

"That was supposed to be off the plate," Gaspard said. "If anything, we were going to try and get him to chase and we just missed."

Gaspard said he would certainly have rather seen the Arkansas star just walk and force in a run to make it 8-6.

"No question," Gaspard said. "We went into the game with his name circled and highlighted and everything else – he is not going to be the guy to beat us. It's a learning lesson. If it's a great player and guy that is circled, you can't allow that to happen because that will happen 9 out of 10 times."

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn noted the pride he took in his team for rallying back.

"I'm just glad to see our guys respond," Van Horn said. "Down 5-0 we could've rolled over. But there was some serious attitude in our dugout and I'm sure (Saturday) will be another good game."

Cox said he understands why the benches and bullpens emptied with Alabama leading 7-5 in the top of the seventh.

"Just because the emotion of the game," Cox said. "It was a big point in the game, getting late in the game and both teams wanted to win. Emotions just ran high."

Arkansas catcher James McCann had a good view of the play after hustling down the line.

"He went in hard and made a good baseball play," McCann said. "There were a few words. It's the game of baseball and I think that motivated us and got us going."

Razorback slugger Andy Wilkins, whose two-run shot tied it 5-5, noted this is the second time the two teams had emptied the bench in the last couple of years.

"To be honest, I don't know why it even all happened," Wilkins said. "I guess the guy kind of came in a little bit hard, whatever. This is the second time we have cleared the benches with Alabama. I don't know what the deal is, but we are not going to give up no matter what. We are not going to back down."

Gaspard said his view of the incident at third base was that it was just part of the game.

"It's just baseball," Gaspard said. "Emotions flared a little bit on both sides. I thought the umpires did a nice job controlling it and it didn't go any farther.

"You know that is not a bad thing sometimes," Gaspard added. "I thought for both teams it was an emotional part of the game. I think that is just baseball. You turn on ESPN and it happens one time a day and at any level of play. You've got a bunch of young kids out here getting after it and playing hard. We probably went in hard to the bag and had a hard tag. You can say his fault or our fault, but really it is just guys playing hard."


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