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No. 4 Arkansas clinches series with 8-4 win

03/17/2012
Chad Crunk, Athletic Media Relations
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FAYETTEVILLE – No. 4 Arkansas jumped out to an early lead, scoring seven runs in the first three innings, and held on to defeat Alabama 8-4 on Saturday afternoon in front of 8,915 fans at Baum Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Razorbacks clinched the series with the win and improved to 18-2 on the season and 2-0 in SEC play. Alabama dropped to 8-11 and 0-2 in league play with the loss.

Arkansas set season highs in both paid and actual attendance on Saturday as the paid attendance was 9,615, while the actual attendance was 8,915.

Unlike last night’s game where Arkansas had to play catch up three times, the Razorbacks jumped on Alabama from the outset, scoring once in the first inning, once in the second and five times in the seventh.

Three Arkansas players contributed two hits in the win with Derrick Bleeker, Dominic Ficociello and Matt Vinson each finishing with a pair of hits. Bleeker and Vinson each drove in two runs, while Ficociello scored a pair of runs. Jacob Morris, Matt Reynolds and Jake Wise also had a RBI in the victory.

Arkansas continued to be patient at the plate on Saturday, drawing nine walks in the victory. Over the first two games of the series, Razorback batters have drawn 21 walks.

Ryne Stanek picked up the win on the mound, improving to 5-0 on the season and running his winning streak to seven straight victories. Stanek gave up two runs and struck out four in 5.2 innings.

Brandon Moore pitched the final 3.1 innings to earn his second save of the season. Moore gave up two unearned runs and had a strikeout in his 3.1 innings.

Alabama starter Taylor Guilbeau took the loss to drop to 1-2 on the year. Guilbeau allowed six runs, five of them earned, with two strikeouts in 2.1 innings.

Arkansas struck first, scoring once in the bottom of the first. After the first two batters were retired, Ficociello reached on an infield single and moved to second after a walk to Reynolds. Wise came through with a two-out hit, singling into right field to bring home Ficociello for the game’s first run.

The Razorbacks struck again in the bottom of the second, adding another run. Bleeker doubled to the right-center field gap with one out. Vinson then reached on an infield single up the middle that the Alabama shortstop fielded and then threw wildly to first base, allowing Bleeker to score on the play.

Alabama got on the board with a run in the top of the third. With two outs, James Tullidge drew a walk and scored from first on a double to the gap in right-center field by Taylor Dugas.

Arkansas broke the game open with five runs in the home half of the third. With one out, Ficociello laid down a perfect bunt up the third base line for a single. A single to left field by Reynolds moved Ficociello to second. After a walk to Wise loaded the bases, Morris drew a bases loaded walk to score Ficociello. Bleeker and Vinson then followed with back-to-back two-RBI doubles to put Arkansas in front 7-1.

The Crimson Tide got a run back in the top of the sixth. Hunter Gregory started the inning with a single to center, but was retired on a fielder’s choice ground out by Jared Reaves. A single to center by Josh Rosecrans advanced Gregory to second. After a fielder’s choice ground out by Ben Moore advanced Reaves to third, Brett Booth came through with a single to right-center field, scoring Reaves.

Alabama got another run closer in the top of the eighth. Reaves reached on a fielding error by Reynolds to begin the inning and then moved to second after a groundout by Rosecrans. A base hit to left field by Moore moved Reaves to third and he crossed home plate on a RBI single by Booth.

Arkansas answered with a run in the bottom of the eighth. Joe Serrano drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on a hit-and-run single to right field by Bo Bigham. After a wild pitch moved Bigham to second, Ficociello drew a walk to load the bases. Reynolds recorded a RBI with a sacrifice fly to right-center field to score Serrano to make the score 8-3.

Alabama tallied one final run in the top of the ninth. With two out, Dugas reached second after a two-base error by Bleeker in right field. Gregory then singled to center to score Dugas. Moore induced a ground ball to third by Reaves to end the game and give Arkansas the win.

Booth and Gregory each had two hits to lead the Crimson Tide at the plate. Booth had a team-high two RBI for Alabama.

The two teams conclude the three-game weekend series on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Arkansas will start junior lefty Randall Fant (1-1, 4.40), while Alabama is scheduled to start junior right-handed pitcher Trey Pilkington (0-1, 5.91). Reserved tickets for Sunday’s game are available for $10. Sunday is Razorback Sunglass Strap Day as fans in attendance will receive a sunglass strap.

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