The Arkansas Razorbacks came to town on a hot streak, having won five of their seven SEC series. The Hogs have been winning despite being ranked dead last in the 14-team SEC in most pitching statistics. This weekend, Arkansas won all three games with strong pitching holding the Tide to five total runs.
Game One: Lost 5-1
Taylor Guilbeau took his normal opening game start and pitched seven innings, keeping the Tide in position to pull out a win. However Razorback pitchers Trey Killian and Zach Jackson had other ideas. Killian the starter, came into the game with a 1-3 record and a 5.98 ERA, but pitched 6.1 innings, allowing seven hits, one run, with one walk and nine strikeouts. Jackson earned the save by pitching 2.2 overpowering innings, allowing one hit with one walk and five more strikeouts. Guilbeau's record fell to 2-5, allowing seven hits and four runs with two walks in four strikeouts on the night. Mitch Greer threw the final two innings and allowed one run on two hits, with one strikeout.
Both starters started strong, tossing matching zeros through the first five innings. Arkansas broke through in the sixth on a single by Joe Serrano, a double by Andrew Benintendi, a wild pitch, and a ground ball out by Tyler Spoon to take a 2-0 lead. The Tide answered in the bottom half of the sixth as Mikey White lead off with a double and scored on Kyle Overstreet's RBI double.
Arkansas put the game away quickly in the top of the seventh as Brett McAfee doubled and trotted home on a long home run by Michael Bernal, stretching the lead to 4-1. The Tide had a chance in the eighth but Cody Henry's long fly ball was tracked down near the wall in center field with two runners on and two out.
The Hogs added one more in the top of the ninth on a Bobby Wernes double and McAfee RBI single. 'Bama went down in order in the bottom of the ninth, and suffered the 5-1 loss.
The Tide had eight players collect one hit each, and walked only twice while striking out 14 times and stranding 10 runners on base. Arkansas had nine hits, drew two walks, and struck out five times.
Game Two: Lost 8-4
Freshman Jake Walters took the mound for the Tide in game two, opposed by Dominic Taccolini for the Hogs. Walters started off hot, and was perfect thru three innings. 'Bama took an early lead scoring twice. Will Haynie lead off the inning with a walk, and when he was caught leaning, got in a run down, and beat the tag for a stolen base. Chance Vincent got a sacrifice bunt down to advance Haynie to third with one out. Chandler Avant hit a bloop to left, that he was able to turn into a hustling double, but in an odd occurrence, Haynie was unable to score, as the left fielder decoyed him into holding. Georgie Salem's ground ball scored Haynie and when Mikey White and Casey Hughston both walked, Avant scored. Two strikeouts ended the inning with the bases loaded.
Arkansas got one run back in the top of the fourth after the first two batters reached on a single and a walk. A fly ball advanced the lead runner to third, where he scored from on the back end of a double steal with two outs. The wheels fell off for the Tide in the top of the fifth, as the Hogs batted around. The lead off batter reached on a walk, and advanced to second on a wild pick off throw. The following batter also walked, and both advance on a passed ball. Walters struck out Michael Bernal for out one, but when the ball got by catcher Will Haynie the tying run scored. Another walk followed as the strike zone seemed to tighten. Clark Eagan hit what looked to be an easy pop up, but the ball found the Bermuda Triangle between third baseman Vincent, shortstop White and left fielder Avant. Joe Serrano hit a single just out of the reach of Avant in left field to score two runs, bringing Ray Castillo out of the bull pen. Castillo walked his first man, before Tyler Spoon singled bringing in two more runs, making the score 6-2.
'Bama was able to add a run in the fifth when Georgie Salem singled, stole second base, and scored on a single by Casey Hughston. A double play ended the inning. Castillo stayed on the mound and had a scoreless sixth, seventh and eighth inning. The Tide mounted a threat in the bottom of the eighth when the first three batters reached base. Kyle Overstreet singled, Cody Henry walked, and J.C. Wilhite singled to load the bases with no outs. A strikeout and fly ball, that was not deep enough to score Overstreet from third, followed, before Chandler Avant singled in a run. Salem was the tying run at the plate, but his deep drive was hauled down just short of the fence in center field.
Arkansas used a double, a walk, and two singles to score two insurance runs in the top of the ninth. The Tide got a lead off single from White in the bottom of the ninth, and a two out walk from Henry, but both were stranded, leaving 'Bama on the short end of an 8-4 decision. Alabama out hit the Razorbacks 12-7 in the game, and also drew seven walks, but struck out 12 times and left 12 runners on base. Arkansas drew six walks and struck out seven times, and all seven of their hits occurred at key times. Walters record fell to 4-3 with the loss.
Saturday: Lost 4-0
Geoffrey Bramblett was once again 'Bama's third game starter, and continued to do a solid job, pitching seven innings, allowing six hits, with three runs, four walks and six strikeouts. Bramblett continues to give the team a chance to win each game that he pitches. However the Tide had no answer for freshman right-hander Keaton McKinney for Arkansas. McKinney pitched a complete game, allowing only two harmless singles, walking only one with two strikeouts. McKinney's bread and butter was ground outs, as he induced 15 ground ball outs among his 27 outs.
The Razorbacks scored the only run the would need in the third, using two walks and a RBI single by Andrew Benintendi to take the 1-0 lead. Benintendi continued to haunt the Tide by driving his 15th home run of the season over the right field wall in the top of the sixth inning. Joe Serrano lead off the eighth inning off of Bramblett with a double, chasing Bramblett in favor of Thomas Burrows. After a wild pitch advanced the runner, that man Benintendi struck again, driving in his third run of the game on a fly ball to center field, where Serrano just beat the strong throw from Salem to the plate.
Rick Nomura touched Burrows for a solo home run in the top of the ninth, for the final margin of 4-0. Mean while the Tide, up to that point, had had three base runners, on a third inning single by Taylor Poe, and Cody Henry reaching on an error in the fifth, and J.C. Wilhite drawing a walk in the fifth.
In the bottom of the ninth Chandler Avant had a line drive single to center, the hardest hit ball by 'Bama in the game. Georgie Salem's ground ball forced Avant at second, and when Mikey White hit a line drive at the third baseman, Salem was doubled off first to end the game.
The Tide fell to 23-24 overall and 8-16 in the SEC, and is hanging on by a thread to be one of the 12 teams to make the SEC tournament. 'Bama will play next on Tuesday at the Hoover Met as the play a make up double header with Alabama A@M, starting at 1:00 p.m. CST. The games will be available on SEC Network Plus. The next SEC action will be at Auburn on May 8th, 9th and 10th.
Roll Tide, Hang in there guys, things have to get better
Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It!