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Alabama Takes One of Three From Arkansas

The four-hit man.

The Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team won one out of three games from the 20th ranked Arkansas Razorbacks this weekend in SEC baseball play. The Tide fell to 13-15 overall and 2-7 in conference play, while the Hogs improved to 22-6, 7-2 in league play. ‘Bama didn't have a chance on Friday against one of the best pitchers in the country, Blaine Knight, won behind Dylan Durate on Saturday, and had a chance to steal the series on Sunday, but fell short when the Razorbacks scored three ninth inning runs.

Game One- Lost 7-1

Sophomore pitcher Blaine Knight came into the Friday night game with some ridiculous numbers, and did nothing but improve on them. The draft eligible right hander showed out in front of a dozen or so MLB scouts, pitching eight innings, allowing only three hits, while walking no one, striking out seven, and one earned run. For the season Knight has now pitched 40 innings, allowed 29 hits, walked two (2!!) batters and stuck out 48. Video game numbers. Jake Walters faced off with Knight and struggled through 4.1 innings, allowing 10 hits and five runs, four of which were earned.

The Tide actually struck first, as Cobie Vance lead off the bottom of the first with a first pitch double, and later scored on a two out single by Hunter Alexander. When Luke Bonfield touched Walters for a two run homer in the top of the third, the game was as good as over. Bonfield and Walters were teammates this past summer in the Cape Cod League. Walters hit a batter and walked two in the fourth, and Bonfield added an RBI single as the Hogs scored two more times.

Knight settled down after the first, and set down 19 batters in a row before Tanner DeVinny lead off the eighth with a double, the Tides third, and last, hit of the night. Knight was as advertised and was one of the better pitchers the Tide as faced in several years. After eight innings, and 89 pitches, Knight was replaced by Dominic Taccolini for the ninth inning. Taccolini hit Chandler Avant with a pitch, giving the Tide their fourth, and last, baserunner of the game.

Arkansas added single runs in the fifth, eighth and ninth to push the final margin to 7-1. The Hogs collected 17 hits, and fortunately for ‘Bama stranded 14 on base. A bright spot for the Tide was freshman reliever Deacon Medders, who replaced Walters and threw 3.2 innings allowing five singles, with no walks and four strikeouts. The one run the Tuscaloosa native allowed was unearned.

Game Two- Won 7-1

In Saturday’s game two it was ‘Bama sophomore lefty Dylan Durate’s turn to dominate the opposition. In a career performance, Durate pitched 8.1 innings and allowed only six singles, with no walks and four strikeouts. The Hogs scored first in the second inning on a an RBI single by Jaxon Williams.

The Tide used two big innings to take the victory, scoring four runs in the second and three times in the fifth. Hunter Alexander lead off the second with a double and scored on a Cody Henry single. A walk to Tanner DeVinny followed. After a pop out Connor Short hit a long drive that hit off the top of the fence for a double, scoring one. Logan Carey then singled in Henry, and Cobie Vance knocked in the last run with a ground out.

In the fifth the Tide put the game a way on singles by Chandler Avant, and Cody Henry and RBI singles by Alexander and DeVinny. A wild pitch allowed the last run of the game to score. Durate continued to be sharp, and after getting out one in the top of the ninth was replaced by Davis Vainer after throwing 116 pitches. Vainer walked on batter and struck out two to end the game and preserve the victory. The Tide had 10 hits, drew two walks and struck out 10 times in the game. The Hogs had six hits, struck out six times, and only walked once in the game. Alexander, Henry, and DeVinny all had two hits apiece for ‘Bama.

Game Three-Lost 8-5

Nick Eicholtz took the mound for Sunday’s game against Josh Alberius. Unlike the first two games, neither starter got out of the fourth inning, with Alberius leaving after the third, and Eicholtz exiting in the middle of the fourth.

Arkansas scored only one in the top of the second, despite having two doubles and a single in the inning, along with a sac bunt and sacrifice fly. Three singles and a walk added to their lead in the third. ‘Bama bounced back in the bottom of the third to tie the game with a big two out rally. Cobie Vance singled, followed by the second of Chandler Avant’s four hits of the day. Kyle Kaufman, playing DH after missing Friday’s game with an injured thumb, lifted a home run over the left field wall, his second of the year, to tie the game at three each.

Garrett Suchey replaced Eicholtz after a one out single in the fourth. Suchey retired the side with a strikeout em out, throw em out double play, as Tanner DeVinny nailed the runner at second base to end the inning. A little flare single with two outs in the fifth by Chad Spanberger plated two Hogs, and a 5-3 Arkansas lead.

The Tide battled back in the seventh to tie the game. Connor Short and Logan Carey lead off the inning with walks. With Vance at the plate, trying to sacrifice bunt, Short was picked off second by catcher Grant Koch. Vance then flew out for out two, but Avant singled to keep things alive, and Kaufman drove in his fourth run of the game with a single. Carey scored the tying run after a wild pitch.

Suchey made it into the ninth before running into trouble, not really all of his doing. Jake Arledge lead off the inning with a single, bringing Spanberger to the plate. The left handed hitter hit a pop fly to short left, where shortstop Avant, third baseman Short and left fielder Chandler Taylor all converged on the ball. Taylor called for it but was unable to make the play, and the ball fell in for a single. A sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, and Suchey was replaced by Davis Vainer. After a strikeout for out two, the next batter was intentionally walked to load the bases. Carson Shaddy then looped an opposite field flare to right, scoring two runs. The last run of the game scored on a wild pitch, chasing Vainer in favor of Sam Finnerty. Finnerty struck out the only man he faced to strand two runners.

The Tide got the tying run to the plate in the ninth after a walk to pinch hitter John Trousdale and a single by Vance, but a pop out and fly out ended the game with the Hogs on top, 8-5.

What does this mean?

The Tide is reeling, but have been a play or two away in each loss. When the starting pitchers throw strikes, and or able to go deep into the games, they can be dangerous. They run into trouble when the have to go early to a thin bull pen that has been decimated by injuries. When the pitchers or throwing strikes, the defense is on their toes, and the offense seems to take a cue and play better.

The offense still has to put the ball in play more, and see more pitches, and draw more walks. The batting average is higher, but the runs scored are about the same as last year.

Who Did What?

Dylan Durate- Win- 8.1 Innings pitched, 6 hits, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts, 1 run

Chandler Avant-5-11, double, run, two hit by pitches

Tanner DeVinny-3-9, double BB, HBP, Run, RBI

Kyle Kaufman-2-9, Home Run, 4 RBI, Run

Whats Next?

Two mid week games with Troy. Travel on Tuesday for a 6 p.m game and host on Wednesday at 6 (make up for earlier season rain out.) The weekend will take the team to Oxford to take on the Ole Miss Rebels in a three game set. The UM games times are 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. match ups on Saturday and Sunday.

Bama Baseball Fever, Catch It!

if your are a sadist, follow @rogerpatmyers for live, in game updates.