Not many people gave the 19th ranked Crimson Tide a chance in Fayetteville against the top ranked Hogs this weekend, but after Friday night’s big 16-1 victory heads started turning. Arkansas bounced back like great teams do to win a 9-1 game on Saturday, and battled to the end to win the series with a 3-1 Sunday game. The Tide fell to 15-5 overall and 1-2 in the SEC while the Hogs improved to 14-3 and 2-1 in conference. The Tide tore the cover off the ball on Friday night but were held in check the rest of the way by Arkansas’s deep and talented pitching staff.
Game One- Won 16-1
The Tide used a 10 run second inning to put the series opener away early. Tyler Ras is still filling in for ace Connor Prielipp on Friday nights and has acquitted himself quite well. Ras pitched six strong innings, allowing six hits, one run, with two walks and six strikeouts in running his record to 3-1 on the season. Prielipp is still day to day, week to week, with an undisclosed “minor medical condition.”
Bama sent 15 batters to the plate in the second off three different Arkansas pitchers. The Hogs started their ace Peyton Pallette, but he was pulled without retiring a batter in the second inning and allowing four of the runs. Owen Diodati started the frame by drawing a walk, advanced on an Andrew Pinckney single, and scored when Jim Jarvis also singled. Caden Rose was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Peyton Wilson and William Hamiter both got RBI with walks. Six straight batters reached before out one was recorded, but then Drew Williamson just missed a home run, doubling in two more runs. Zane Denton followed with an RBI double and DIodati then launched his fifth home run of the season over the right center field wall. Pinckney got his second single of the evening and came around to score on a thrown error after a Rose single. The 10 runs put the Tide on cruise control, and the didn't score again until the seventh inning.
Ras was touched for a solo home run in the second, but stayed in control and turned the game over to Connor Shamblin after his six sparkling innings. Rose blasted his second home run of the season for the Tide in the top of the seventh, only the second Bama hit since the big second inning. Williamson walked in the eighth, Denton doubled, followed by a two run single from Diodati. Pinckney then hit his first career home run to score Dio in front of him. Jackson Tate pinch hit for Rose in the ninth and blasted his first home run of the year for the Tides last run. Shamblin got the three inning save, allowing only two hits with one walk while striking out four and not allowing a run.
Pinckney was the leading hitter at 3-5 with a home run, two RBI, and three runs scored. Diodati was 2-4 with four RBI, a home run, a walk, and three runs. Williamson had a 2-4 night with two doubles, two RBI, and two runs, while Denton was 2-5 with a double, two runs, and an RBI. Rose was 2-3 with two runs, a hit by pitch, a home run, two runs scored and one driven in. Wilson joined the multi hit parade with his 2-5 game. Overall the Tide was 15-41 with six walks, seven strikeouts, and five runners left on base. Arkansas finished 8-33 with three walks, 10 strikeouts, and eight runners left on base.
Game Two- Lost 9-1
Arkansas pitcher Zebulon Vermillion had his way with Tide hitters on Saturday, and Bama never had a chance. Bama countered with Dylan Smith, who has been outstanding all season. Vermillion was filling up the strike zone and Tide hitters seldom made solid contact. Meanwhile Smith was mowing down the Hogs until a home run by All American catcher Casey Opitz to lead off the bottom of the third. Smith gave up a run in the fourth after a double and single to start the frame, but stranded runners on second and third with two strikeouts looking. With two outs in the fifth and his pitch count at 99, Smith was relieved by Jacob McNairy. leaving with a 3-0 deficit.
The Tide finally got their only hit off of Vermillion in the sixth on a Jim Jarvis single. Jarvis was only the teams second (of four) base runners of the game at that point. McNariy got touched for three runs in the sixth to put the game out of reach and was released by freshman Jake Eddington. Eddington pitched a solid seventh, but could not record an out in the eighth and gave up three runs before being relieved by William Freeman. Freeman got two fly outs and a strikeout to end the bleeding.
Peyton Wilson led off the ninth with a double off of relief pitcher Zack Morris but was stranded and the Tide went down 9-1. Jarvis and Wilson had the only two hits in a 2-28, two walk, six strikeouts, three runners left on base night. Arkansas finished 12-34 with two walks, 13 strikeouts, and left five runners on base. Smith just missed his third straight game of 10 strikeouts with nine in his 4.2 innings of work.
Game Three- Lost 3-1
For the rubber game of the series the Tide sent Canadian left hander Antoine Jean to the hill to face Laek Lockhart of Arkansas. This one was the opposite of the first two games, and became and old fashioned pitchers duel. Unfortunately in that situation the Hogs have many more bullets than the Tide at this point.
The Tide threatened in the first with two runners on and only one out, but could not push a run across. Peyton Wilson struck out but reached first base on a passed ball and Zane Denton walked, both advanced on a wild pitch but were left standing on second and third after a strikeout and ground out. Caden Rose laced a one out double in the second but was left stranded. In the fourth Drew Williamson led off with a walk and Sam Praytor put a charge in a ball, that was hauled in just short of the wall in deep right field.
Arkansas broke through in the fourth on a two out home run off the bat of Brady Slavens, his team leading sixth of the year. Jean completed five innings, allow three hits, with two walks, two strikeouts, and the single run allowed. Landon Green walked himself into trouble in the sixth and the Hogs took advantage with a two out, two run, soft single to left. Green uncharacteristically walked three and allowed two hits, after only walking two batters all season previously. Chase Lee took over on the mound and pitched two scoreless with one walk and two strikeouts. Praytor led off the ninth with his fourth home run of the season, a laser over the left field wall. Rose walked with one out, but with the tying run at the plate the next two batters struck out to end the game on the wrong end of a 3-1 score.
Bama had another subpar offensive day, 4-32 with three walks, 15 strikeouts, and eight left on base. The Hogs were only 5-32 themselves with six walks, four strikeouts, and left nine on base. Praytor had half the teams hits with his 2-4 day, and this might have been the brightest spot of the day. Praytor has been scuffling at the plate and hit the ball hard in all four at bats today. He must pick it up for the team to have success, and history says he will. Jean took the loss and fell to 2-1, but had one of his best games of the season. For the series the Tide hit 21-100 for a .210 average, with 11 walks, 28 strikeouts, and 16 runners left on base. Arkansas was 25-96 for a .260 average, drew 11 walks, struck out 26 times, and left 20 on base.
Opening conference play with the number one team in the nation on the road isn't ideal for a team with 21 freshmen on the roster, but the Tide gave themselves a chance at a series win. The Friday night game may have put expectations above where they should have been, but showed the team could play with anyone. Saturdays game there was never a chance, but Sunday there was, and the more talented, more veteran team did what was needed to win. Things don't get any easier as the Tide hosts third ranked Ole Miss next week for a Thursday, Friday, Saturday series. First is a home game with Southern Miss on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The Thursday and Friday games are also at 6 p.m and Saturday’s final game will be at 1 p.m. Thursday’s game will be on ESPNU and Saturday will be on the SEC Network. The other two can be seen on the SEC Network Plus App.
Who Did What:
Andrew Pinckney: 4-12, home run, three runs, two RBI
Caden Rose: 3-8, two runs, two walks, one HBP, home run, run, RBI
Peyton Wilson: 3-12, two RBI, Sac Fly, BB
Owen Diodati: 2-11, three runs, four RBI, BB, Home run
Tyler Ras: W (3-1) 6 IP 6 H 2 BB 6 K 1 run
Dylan Smith L (0-2) 4.2 IP 9 K 5 H 1 BB 3 R
Antoine Jean L (2-1) 5 IP 3 H 2BB 2 K 1 R
The Tide needs to get healthy. They were without Prielipp, Brock Guffey, and TJ Reeves all weekend, and without Hamiter on Sunday. The depth isn't quite there yet to absorb losses to that quality of player.
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