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Arkansas outlasts Alabama in 12 innings

03/16/2012
Chad Crunk, Athletic Media Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE – Jake Wise drew a bases loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning to lift No. 4 Arkansas to a 4-3 win over Alabama in the Southeastern Conference opener on Friday night at Baum Stadium.

The Razorbacks won their seventh-straight game and improved to 17-2 on the season, while Alabama dropped to 8-10 with the loss. Arkansas has now won its conference opener in five consecutive seasons.

Arkansas put together the game-winning rally after the first two batters of the 12th had been retired. Matt Reynolds started the rally with an opposite field single to right and moved to second after a walk to Bo Bigham. Matt Vinson then drew a walk to load the bases. Wise jumped ahead in the count 2-0, but Alabama pitcher Adam Windsor then evened the count with back-to-back strikes. After ball three and a foul ball, Wise drew ball four up and away to score Reynolds and give Arkansas the win.

The game might not have gone into extra innings without the first inning heroics of Vinson, who made an unbelievable catch to rob a home run. Josh Rosecrans hit a 1-1 pitch that appeared destined for the Arkansas bullpen, but Vinson climbed the wall and stretched his left arm over the wall and made the catch, robbing the homer and keeping the game scoreless.

It was a back and forth game throughout with Arkansas answering Alabama in each inning. The Crimson Tide scored in the top of the third, the eighth and the ninth, but each time the Razorbacks responded to tie the game.

Barrett Astin earned the win in relief, throwing 3.1 scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out three. Astin improved to 2-0 on the season and has not allowed a run in 19 innings of work this season.

Josh Rosecrans suffered the loss after giving up a run on two hits in 1.2 innings.

Neither starter factored into the decision. DJ Baxendale gave up a run and struck out four in 5.1 innings, while Charley Sullivan struck out four and allowed a run in 5.1 innings.

Sam Bates, Jacob Morris and Jake Wise each had a pair of hits to lead Arkansas at the plate. Morris and Wise each added a RBI. Bo Bigham and Tim Carver also contributed an RBI each, while Vinson drew walks in his last three plate appearances.

Ben Moore had a game-high three hits for Alabama. Hunter Gregory added two hits and drove in a run.

Alabama struck first with a run in the top of the third. With one out, Jon Kelton was hit by a pitch and then moved to third on a single to right field by Taylor Dugas. A balk by Baxendale brought in Kelton from third for the first run of the game.

Arkansas answered with a run in the bottom of the third. Wise singled to left field with one out and moved to second after a walk to Morris. A base hit up the middle by Carver scored Wise to tie the game at one.

The game would remain tied until the top of the eighth inning when Alabama regained the lead. Reaves began the inning with a single to left and advanced to second after a sacrifice bunt by Rosecrans. A ground out the mound by Moore advanced Reaves to third and he crossed home plate after a wild pitch by Suggs.

Arkansas again answered with a run in the bottom of the eighth. Dominic Ficociello walked with one out and a base hit to left field by Sam Bates moved Ficociello to second. After an infield fly out by Reynolds for the second out of the inning, Bigham came through with a clutch hit, doubling off the wall in left-center field to score Ficociello. Pinch runner Brian Anderson also attempted to score on the play, but he was thrown out at home to keep the game tied.

The Crimson Tide took a 3-2 lead with a run in the top of the ninth. With one out, Cameron Carlisle walked and then moved to second after a two-out walk by Dugas. Gregory hit the first pitch he saw from Astin down the right field line for a double to score Carlisle.

The Razorbacks would not go quietly in the bottom of the ninth, erasing the Alabama lead for the third time in the game with a run. Vinson drew a lead off walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Wise. Morris laced a double down the left field line to plate Vinson with the tying run and pave the way for Arkansas’ heroics in the bottom of the 12th.

Arkansas and Alabama resume the three-game series on Saturday afternoon at 3:05 p.m. in a game that will be televised by CST and also available on ESPN3.com. The Razorbacks will send sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryne Stanek (4-0, 1.12) to the mound, while the Crimson Tide will counter with freshman lefty Taylor Guilbeau (1-1, 3.98). Only $8 general admission tickets remain for Saturday’s game.

Saturday is Coca-Cola St. Patrick’s Hat Day as Arkansas baseball St. Patrick’s Day hats will be given up at the gates.

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