March 27, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The seventh inning proved to be the difference Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium as No. 15 Arkansas rallied for a 4-3 win over No. 16 Alabama to clinch the series in front of 8,332 fans on a breezy day.
After wriggling out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh inning, Arkansas scored three runs on five hits in the bottom of the frame to tie the game at 3-3. Two innings later, seldom used pinch hitter Thomas Hauskey lined a single to center field off sophomore right hander Tyler White to score Collin Kuhn with the winning run as the Razorbacks topped the Crimson Tide in the final at-bat for the second straight day.
Kuhn lined a double down the left field line to open the ninth inning before White got Tim Carver to ground out to short for the first out. After an intentional walk to Zack Cox, White got a deep fly ball to center from Andy Wilkins for the second out of the inning. Kuhn tagged up and went to third on the play.
Arkansas called on Hauskey, who was 0-for-2 on the season, to hit for DH Brett Eibner, who was experiencing some dizziness after being hit in the head with a pitch in the sixth inning. The pinch hitter lined a 1-1 pitch to center to score Kuhn with the winning run.
White (2-2) was charged with the loss after he allowed one run and three hits in 1 2/3 innings. Arkansas right-hander Jordan Pratt (1-0) allowed two hits in two scoreless innings for the win.
Alabama (16-5, 2-3 SEC) held a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning and missed an opportunity to extend the lead when the Tide loaded the bases with one out, but did not score.
Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas, who went 3-for-4 with two extra base hits, ripped a one-out double to left-center before junior shortstop Josh Rutledge was hit by a pitch. Junior second baseman Ross Wilson then reached on an infield hit to load the bases.
Eibner wriggled out of the jam when senor first baseman Clay Jones popped up to second and senior third baseman Jake Smith popped up to right field to end the inning and strand three runners.
Arkansas (17-5, 3-2 SEC) seemed to get a lift from Eibner's clutch pitching in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Bo Bigham and Matt Vinson opened the inning with back-to-back singles putting runners on first and second with no outs. Matt Reynolds reached on a fielder's choice as Vinson was out at second base and Bigham moved to third with one out. Kuhn followed with an infield hit up the middle to score Bigham with the first run as the Razorbacks cut the lead to 3-1. A wild pitch sent Reynolds to third and Matt Carver's ground out chased him home with the second run. Cox delivered the tying run with a two-out single up the middle to score Kuhn and tie the game at 3-3.
"It was a good job on their part to do that, but it was a poor job on our part to stretch the lead out as well," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We are in a little bit of an offensive funk. We are not driving the ball. We're getting some hits, but we're not splitting gaps or driving the ball out of the park at all. The middle of our lineup has really struggled the last couple of weeks.
"Last night, just like today, rather than 3-0 that could have very easily been 5-0 or 6-0. The same with last night, we could have stretched it out more. It's a great job on their part. They are keeping us there and then coming back and finding a way to have a big inning to get right back in it."
Junior right hander Jimmy Nelson gave Alabama another quality start with a season-high 6 2/3 innings on the mound. He took a no-hitter into the sixth and left the game with a no decision after he allowed three runs and six hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
Eibner gave Arkansas seven strong innings as he allowed three runs and 11 hits with one strikeout and no walks.
Alabama out-hit Arkansas 13-10 in the loss, but stranded nine base runners and hit into a season-high three double plays.
The Crimson Tide snapped a scoreless tie with a run in the top of the fifth inning to grab a 1-0 lead. Freshman right fielder Andrew Miller laced a one-out triple to right center field and scored on Dugas' two-out double down the right field line.
The Crimson Tide added two more runs in the sixth inning on sophomore DH Jon Kelton's two-run single to take 3-0 lead. Jones ripped a one-out double to right and Smith reached on a two-base error by Cox. Kelton then lined a single to center that scored both Jones and Smith to give Alabama a 3-0 lead.
Arkansas broke up Nelson's no-hit bid when leadoff man Collin Kuhn led off the sixth with a bunt single. Nelson retired the next two hitters before Andy Wilkins stroked a two-out single to center. Nelson then hit Eibner in the batting helmet to load the bases, before bouncing back to get catcher James McCann to pop up to shallow center field to end the threat.
The teams will wrap up the series on Sunday, March 28, at 1:05 p.m. (CDT). Alabama is expected to send freshman left-hander Taylor Wolfe (2-0, 3.00 ERA) the mound against Arkansas left-hander Randall Fant (2 GS, 1-0, 1.50 ERA). Fant replaces Drew Smyly (2-0, 1.73 ERA), who has a blister.
*Alabama (16-5, 2-3 SEC) has lost its last four games after matching the best start in school history with a 16-1 record.
*Sophomore center fielder Taylor Dugas went 3-for-4 on Saturday and has now reached base safely in 18 of 24 plate appearances over his last five games. He has 10 hits and eight walks during that span. Dugas raised his batting average 15 points on Saturday and is now hitting .486 (35-for-72) in 21 games this season. He has a .602 on-base percentage and a .681 slugging mark.
*Junior shortstop Josh Rutledge went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 16 games, an Alabama season best. During the streak, Rutledge is hitting .388 (26-for-67) with 17 runs scored, nine extra base hits and 18 RBI.
*Sophomore DH Jon Kelton went 3-for-3 on Saturday with two RBI to raise his season average to .436 (17-for-39) in 18 games. It was his first career three-hit game for the Tide. In the two games against Arkansas, Kelton is 5-for-6 (.833) with one run scored and four RBI. He has reached base eight times in nine plate appearances.
*Junior catcher Brock Bennett went 1-for-4 to extend his career-long hitting streak to seven games. The Tucker, Ga., native is hitting .520 (13-for-25) during the streak with two doubles, four RBI and seven runs scored.