TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Emeel Salem’s seventh-inning two-run home run put a stake in No. 8 Arkansas on a smoldering afternoon in front of 4,206 fans at Sewell-Thomas Stadium as Alabama handed the Razorbacks their first SEC-series loss on the road this season.
Duke Welker took the loss on the mound, his second straight, to fall to 5-4 on the season. He allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings of work. He fanned five and walked three.
Will Stroup kept the Hogs off balance most of the game with a mix of off-speed pitches to improve to 2-0 on the year. He threw his first-career complete game, allowing five runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and just three walks.
Salem tore up Razorback pitching, going 4 for 5 with his seventh home run of the season and two RBI. Matt Bentley went 3 for 3 with a home run and a team-high three RBI.
The Hogs’ bullpen allowed four runs on six hits with Travis Hill allowing three runs and Evan Cox giving up a runs. Dallas Keuchel pitched the final two-thirds of an inning with a strikeout.
Danny Hamblin went 2 for 4 on the day with his 20th home run of the season. He tied Rodney Nye (1999) for second place in single-season home runs. He also moved within one home run of Ryan Lundquist’s school record of 56.
Alabama took the lead for the third time in the game with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning when Emeel Salem hammered the first pitch he saw from Hill over the right-field fence to give the Tide a 6-4 lead.
The Crimson Tide padded its lead in the bottom of the fifth inning with a solo home run by Matt Bentley over the right field fence. The lead went to 8-4 with two outs in the inning with a bloop single into short-right-center field.
A leadoff single that Emeel Salem blooped in front of Casey Coon to lead off the bottom of the first inning eventually scored on a RBI ground out by Alex Avila to give the Tide a 1-0 lead.
The Hogs tied things up in the top of the second inning when Hamblin connected for a mammoth solo home run beyond the trees in left field. It was Hamblin’s 20th home run of the season and his third in the last two days.
A sharp leadoff single by Tim Smalling, his fifth hit in six at bats this weekend, came around to score on Logan Forsythe’s sacrifice fly ball to right field and a 2-1 lead.
A bad inning for Welker gave the lead right back to Alabama in the bottom of the fourth inning. He walked the leadoff batter and then surrendered a double down the left-field line. After a run was cut down at the plate by a nice play by Hamblin at first base Tyler Odle, who was hitting just .111 on the season, doubled down the right-field line to tie the game. Kyle Moore then plated the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Forsythe answered back for the Razorbacks with a two-run home run to center field in the top of the fifth inning. It was Forsythe’s first home run since April 3 vs. Northern Colorado, a span of 87 at bats.
Two hits that Matt Willard got his glove on at second base led to a run for the Crimson Tide in the bottom half of the fifth inning. Matt Bentley plated the run on an infield single to second. Welker then fanned the final two hitters to get out of the inning with two runners in scoring position.
Coon connected for his ninth home run of the season in the eighth inning with a blast over the scoreboard in left-center field to make it 8-5. The Crimson Tide came right back with a sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning to extend the lead back to four runs.
Arkansas returns home in search of an SEC West championship with Ole Miss coming to Baum Stadium. The series starts at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday, May 17.