Battles, Lanzilli Homer in Razorbacks’ Loss in SEC Tournament Opener

HOOVER, Ala. – Home runs from Jalen Battles and Chris Lanzilli were not enough firepower to help No. 3 seed Arkansas (38-17) rally back from an early deficit against No. 11 seed Alabama (31-25) as the Hogs lost their SEC Tournament opener to the Crimson Tide, 4-3, on Wednesday afternoon at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

The game, which was originally scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m., did not begin until 4:30 p.m. due to weather delays. Arkansas was without head coach Dave Van Horn, who was not feeling well on Wednesday. Assistant coaches Matt Hobbs and Nate Thompson handled managerial duties together in Van Horn’s absence.

Alabama jumped out to a 3-0 lead with a pair of runs in the second and another in the third. Arkansas starter Will McEntire lasted 2 1/3 innings, striking out four while allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits and three walks.

The Razorbacks struck back with a run in the bottom of the third, thanks to Battles’ ninth home run of the season. The San Antonio, Texas, native blasted a one-out solo homer to left center to make it a two-run ballgame.

Alabama, however, answered with a run of their own in the very next inning. The Crimson Tide loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fourth before taking advantage of a defensive miscue by the Hogs to extend its lead to 4-1.

Lanzilli’s two-run shot to left center in the bottom of the sixth brought Arkansas within one. The Stoneham, Mass., native finished the game with two hits and two runs batted in as well as an outfield assist after he threw a runner out at home in the top of the fifth.

The Razorbacks would not overcome that one-run deficit, though, going scoreless in the seventh, eighth and ninth to seal their 4-3 defeat to the Tide. Wednesday’s loss is Arkansas’ third in a row and seventh in its last 11 games.

Arkansas’ bullpen was a bright spot Wednesday, delivering 6 2/3 shutdown innings in relief. Zack Morris (1.2 IP, 2 SO), Kole Ramage (2.0 IP, 1 SO) and Evan Taylor (3.0 IP, 3 SO) held Alabama to just one unearned run on two hits after McEntire’s early departure.

Arkansas will next face the loser of No. 2 seed Texas A&M and No. 7 seed Florida in the second game of double-elimination play. The game is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 26, with first pitch still to be determined.

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