March 17, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 4-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks used a five-run third inning en route to an 8-4 Southeastern Conference victory over the Alabama baseball team on Saturday afternoon from Baum Stadium. With the loss, the Crimson Tide falls to 8-11 overall and 0-2 in SEC play. Arkansas improves to 18-2 overall and 2-0 in conference action.
Alabama starting pitcher Taylor Guilbeau lasted just 2.1 innings, and left the game with the bases loaded and the Tide trailing 3-1 in the Arkansas third. Cary Baxter came in to relieve Guilbeau and allowed back-to-back two-run doubles as the Razorbacks extended its lead to 7-1.
After the two extra base hits, Baxter did not allow another hit, and finished his second career outing with 3.2 innings pitched, giving up one earned run on two hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Case Nixon threw the final 2.0 innings, allowing one run on one hit with two walks and four strikeouts.
“We did not get a real good start today and that’s been the theme with some of our young starters,” UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “We’re not throwing enough strikes and that creates big innings for our opponents. Arkansas did a good job offensively in the front part of the game. When you’re facing a potential first round draft pick, you knew offense was going to be tough to come by today.”
Arkansas starter Ryne Stanek (5-0) picked up the win, throwing 5.2 innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Brandon Moore threw the final 3.1 innings in relief to pick up his second save of the season.
Brett Booth 2-for-3 with two RBI and Hunter Gregory was 2-for-5 with an RBI for Alabama. Booth has 14 RBI this season to lead the team. Five other Tide players had one hit, as Taylor Dugas was 1-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. James Tullidge had a pair of walks and scored a run, and Jared Reaves scored twice after reaching on a pair of errors.
Arkansas finished the day with nine hits and also benefitted by nine total walks from Alabama pitchers. Derrick Bleeker was 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored, Dominic Ficociello was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Matt Vinson was 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Arkansas struck first with a run in the first, as Jake Wise singled to right field with two outs to drive in Dominic Ficociello from second. The Hogs took a 2-0 lead with an unearned run in the second.
With the Tide trailing by two, Dugas recorded his 62nd career double with two outs in third inning to drive in James Tullidge, who walked, from first base.
The Razorbacks answered in the third inning with five runs. A bases loaded walk pushed in the first run, then back-to-back two-run doubles by Derrick Bleeker and Matt Vinson extended the Hogs’ lead to 7-1.
“Once the game settled in, it got better for us, but the game was out of hand quickly and it’s hard to recover from that point,” Gaspard said. “I still feel like, coming into tomorrow, we can still salvage it. You have to avoid getting swept on the road and right now Trey Pilkington has to come out and give us that quality start.”
UA got a run back in the sixth when a two-out single by Booth drove in Jared Reaves. In the eighth, a Booth one-out single with runners on the corners produced the Tide’s third run of the game. The Tide had runners on the corners following the Booth single, but Kenny Roberts grounded into an inning-ending double play to end the Alabama threat.
Arkansas added a run on a sac fly by Matt Reynolds, and the Tide capped the scoring when Dugas scored an unearned run on an RBI single by Gregory with two outs in the ninth.
The Crimson Tide and No. 4 Razorbacks will complete the three-game SEC series on Sunday, with first pitch at 1:05 p.m. CST, from Baum Stadium. Alabama will throw junior right-hander Trey Pilkington (0-1, 5.91) and Arkansas will counter with sophomore lefty Randall Fant (1-1, 4.40).
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