May 27, 2011
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Alabama was held to a season-low two hits by the No. 18-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks and lost 4-1 in an elimination game in the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday afternoon from Regions Park. Arkansas starter Ryne Stanek stifled the Alabama bats for 7.2 innings, allowing just one run on two hits with five strikeouts.
With the loss, Alabama falls to 33-26 overall and will wait until Monday at 11:30 a.m. CT when the NCAA Tournament 64-team field is announced to see where it will play next. Arkansas improved to 38-19 overall and will take on Vanderbilt in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament on Friday morning.
"(Jonathan) Smart battled and kept us right there to make a run, but we weren't able to do it offensively," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "Our focus now is to get better as we move on to next week. We will have to be more consistent for three to four days in a row."
Alabama starter Jonathan Smart (4-3) was the hard-luck loser after throwing 6.0 innings, allowing three runs on six hits with four strikeouts. Stanek improved to 3-2 on the year, while Daniel Trent got the final four outs for Arkansas to pick up his third save of the season.
"On back-to-back days we saw two guys throw the ball very well," Gaspard said. "I thought Stanek was outstanding today. Offensively we didn't have any rhythm and our energy level was not where I would like to have it."
The two hits for Alabama came in back-to-back at-bats when Jared Reaves doubled with one out in the fourth inning and Austen Smith followed with a RBI single to right field. Brett Whitaker reached base twice with two walks and Taylor Dugas was 0-for-3 with a walk.
Arkansas took a 1-0 lead when Dominic Ficociello singled home Collin Kuhn. Kuhn reached on a fielder's choice and stole second to get into scoring position.
Alabama tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth inning when Smith singled home Reaves. Smith was 1-for-4 with an RBI and Reaves was 2-for-4 with a run scored. The double by Reaves was his team-leading 20th of the season.
Arkansas regained the lead when Kyle Robinson homered to left field in the bottom half of the fourth. Robinson struck again in the sixth inning with an RBI single to left field, plating Ficociello to give the Razorbacks a 3-1 lead after six complete. Arkansas added an insurance run in the eighth off Tucker Hawley when Matt Vinson's double scored Robinson from first.
Robinson was 2-for-3 with a walk, two RBI and two runs scored. Ficociello was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
The national seeds (16 teams) for the 2011 NCAA Baseball Tournament will be announced on Sunday at 2:30 CT, with the full 64-team field to follow on Monday at 11:30 a.m. CT.