Razorbacks get sweep with 10-5 win
FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 16 University of Arkansas baseball team completed a weekend sweep of Alabama with a 10-5 win Sunday afternoon at Baum Stadium. The Hogs got home runs from Collin Kuhn, Zack Cox, Andy Wilkins and Brett Eibner to post their largest offensive output-10 runs and 14 hits-in Southeastern Conference play this season. For the third time in as many games, the Razorbacks rallied from an early deficit en route to their first series win, and sweep, against the Crimson Tide since the 2006 season.
Arkansas (18-5, 4-2 SEC) trailed by four after the Crimson Tide’s first time at the plate, but used a two-run bottom of the first to cut into its deficit before posting four runs in the sixth and seventh innings to take control of Sunday’s game. The Hogs will take a five-game winning streak into their midweek series against Centenary.
"I’m proud of the team," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "They had a good week, going 5-0. We did it a lot of different ways with relief and starting pitching, timely hitting, home runs and we turned a lot of double plays and it all paid off."
Following the pattern of the first two games of the series, Alabama (16-6, 2-4) jumped out to the early lead with a four-run first inning. With two runners on and no outs, Ross Wilson hit a three-run homer to left field, his fifth long ball of the season. Chris Smelley drove in the Crimson Tide’s final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to give the visitors a 4-0 advantage.
Arkansas responded with two runs in the bottom of the first to cut its deficit in half. With two down, Wilkins laced the ball to the fence for a long RBI single to score Eibner. Tim Carver picked up the second RBI of the inning with a base hit up the middle that plated Cox.
Randall Fant got the first SEC start of his career Sunday. After the shaky first, the freshman lefty settled in to quiet the Alabama offense during the last four innings of his outing. Fant gave up four runs-two earned-in five innings of work. He only allowed one more hit after the opening inning and retired the last eight hitters he faced before giving way to TJ Forrest out of the bullpen. For the second time this weekend, and third time of the week, Forrest (4-0) earned the win.
After recording the first out in the sixth, Alabama reliever Adam Scott ran into trouble, giving up three home runs in the inning to surrender the lead to Arkansas. Kuhn started the fireworks with a one-out solo shot to center field, his fourth of the season. Two hitters later, Cox belted the first pitch he saw from Scott for another solo home run to tie the score. Cox extended his hitting streak to 23 games earlier with a single in the second inning. Wilkins capped the long-ball barrage with a two-run home run to left field and the Razorbacks led, 6-4.
The home run was the 36th career dinger for Wilkins, which moves him into sole possession of fifth place on Arkansas’ all-time list. It also represented the 125th RBI of his Razorback career.
The Hogs extended their lead, 10-4, with another four spot in the seventh. James McCann scored the first run on an RBI single by Kuhn. With Kuhn and Matt Reynolds on, Eibner hit his sixth home run of the season, a three-run job hit well into the Hog Pen in left field. Arkansas’ four total home runs are a season high.
Alabama tacked on its fifth run in the eighth inning. The Crimson Tide loaded the bases with one out in the frame, but managed just the one run on an RBI groundout by Brock Bennett. DJ Baxendale pitched the Razorbacks out of the inning with a strikeout of pinch hitter Brandt Hendricks for the third out. In the ninth, Baxendale gave up a single to the lead-off hitter but induced a double-play ball from the next hitter and struck out Wilson to seal the win.
Arkansas turned six double plays during its series against the Crimson Tide, including a season-high three in Saturday’s come-from-behind win. The Hogs have turned 19 double plays this season.
The Razorbacks return to their home field Tuesday for the beginning of a two-game set against Centenary. Game one of the midweek series is scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. start at Baum Stadium. The series will conclude Wednesday with a first pitch of 3:05 p.m.