FAYETTEVILLE – Composure, comeback and Cox have been Arkansas' three Cs for success this season.
The No. 16 Razorbacks utilized all three characteristics Sunday, turning a four-run deficit into a 10-5 win over the No. 20 Alabama at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas (18-5, 4-2 SEC) swept the weekend series, coming from behind in all three games.
Once again Zack Cox was a catalyst in the comeback win. His home run tied the game 4-4 in the sixth inning Sunday and was one of three home runs in an inning that gave Arkansas a 6-4 lead. In all three weekend wins over the Crimson Tide, Cox tied the game with a two-out hit.
"It's great when you can put together some two-out hits," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Those can be back-breakers because the team feels they are so close to getting back to the dugout and getting out of a jam.
"He was so clutch for us Friday and he picked it up for us the last couple of days. He did his damage and did a great job. He made them try to pitch around him and they were a little too fine and made some mistakes. He's a good hitter."
He finished the weekend series 6-for-11 at the plate with eight RBIs, drawing four walks and scoring four runs. The sophomore third baseman entered the series hitting .410 and finished it at .435.
"I was surprised they were still pitching to him the last couple of days," Arkansas first baseman Andy Wilkins said. "Every time he gets a pitch to hit, he's going to take advantage of it.
"Hopefully he can keep it going, because he's playing out of his mind right now."
The Razorbacks could have folded early on. Alabama (16-6, 2-4) scored four runs off Arkansas freshman starter Randall Fant in the first inning, thanks in large part to a three-run home run from second baseman Ross Wilson.
But Arkansas bounced back with two runs in the bottom of the first with two-out RBI singles from both Wilkins and Tim Carver. The Hogs could have added to that number in the second and fourth innings, but left the bases loaded both times.
Cox extended his hitting streak to 23 games in the fourth inning with a two-out bloop single. Collin Kuhn was standing on second base at the time but didn't run on contact and it cost the Razorbacks a run. Kuhn was forced to stay at third base and Monk Kreder popped-up to end the inning one batter later.
"I don't know what he was thinking," Van Horn said. "At the time that was a real important run. He got hammered by about everybody in the dugout. He took it like a man and went out and said, ‘I'm going to get you one or two back.'"
Kuhn got the run back in the sixth with a solo home run off the batter's eye in center field to pull Arkansas within 4-3. After Cox' fifth home run of the season tied the game, Wilkins gave Arkansas the lead with a two-run home run – the 36th of his career.
Kuhn added an RBI single in the seventh inning and scored on Brett Eibner's three-run home run in the next at-bat gave Arkansas a 10-4 lead.
"We knew we were going to score runs," Van Horn said. "When you're down 4-0 and the wind is blowing out hard you feel like you have a chance. We kept thinking it might be a high-scoring game. We kept reminding the guys to keep scoring and good things will happen."
Senior TJ Forrest (4-0) earned the win by pitching 1 1/3 innings. It was Forrest's third win of the week after recording the win against McNeese State Tuesday night and against Alabama on Friday. In fact, all five of Arkansas' wins this week were recorded by the bullpen.
It was a nice accomplishment for the right-hander, who stayed in Louisiana earlier this week to visit a specialist because of heart complications.
"He did good," Van Horn said. "He threw strikes. He mixed it up and gave us some outs. That's what we needed out of him.
"The bullpen held some people down and gave us a chance to catch up. They struggled a little bit last weekend, but this weekend they were solid."
Fant pitched five innings in his first career weekend start, earning a no-decision by allowing two earned runs on four hits.
He left the game prior to the sixth inning after retiring the final eight batters he faced.
Fant started with scheduled starter Drew Smyly out because of a blister on his throwing hand. Smyly was able to record the final two outs in the seventh inning out of the bullpen, stranding two Alabama runners in scoring position.
Jeremy Heatley gave up one earned run in 1/3 inning of work in the eighth before DJ Baxendale entered to record the final five outs for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas 10, Alabama 5
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