HOOVER, Ala. – No. 14 Arkansas and No. 6 Alabama engaged in an old fashion pitching duel on Thursday afternoon at the Hoover-Met until the seventh inning when things fell apart for the Razorbacks.
Kent Matthes’ leadoff single up the middle started what would be a four-run inning for the Crimson Tide that broke a 0-0 tie and eliminated Arkansas from the SEC Tournament by a score of 4-3 in front of 5,998 fans at the Hoover-Met.
Alabama laid down three sacrifice bunts in the seventh inning, including two safety squeezes. Greg Paiml plated a run in the inning on a base hit to third base. Blake Parker was able to knock down the baseball but could not find it before Matthes raced home.
The loss is the fifth straight in SEC Tournament play for the Hogs and drops their record to 38-19 on the season. Alabama snaps a three-game losing streak against Arkansas and improves to 40-18 on the year.
Daryl Maday took the tough-luck loss to fall to 2-2 on the season. He matched his career high with six-plus innings of work and allowed just one run on five hits while striking out four and walking three.
Wade LeBlanc improved to 10-0 on the year, working seven-scoreless innings while fanning nine and walking just two.
David Hum accounted for all three Razorback runs on Thursday with a two-out three-run home run in the top of the eighth inning. Craig Gentry greeted Alabama reliever Jordan Davis with a single and advanced to second base on a wild pitch. After a fly out, James Ewing drew a walk. Danny Hamblin popped up for the second out before Hum hit his fifth home run of the season over the boards in right field.
Maday worked his way out of trouble in the sixth inning after loading the bases with singles by Brandon Belcher and Emeel Salem and a walk to Greg Paiml. Maday got Matt Downs to ground out to second base to end the inning and keep to game knotted at 1-all through six innings.
The Razorbacks couldn’t take advantage of their chance to take the lead in the top of the seventh inning either, leaving runners on second and third with just one out. LeBlanc stepped up and got Danny Hamblin and David Hum swinging to end the inning.
Arkansas returns home to await word on hosting an NCAA Regional on Sunday afternoon with the tournament field announced on Monday at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN.
DIAMOND HOG NOTEBOOK
· Alabama eliminated Arkansas from the SEC Tournament for the second straight year and the third time in school history (1999, 2005 & 2006). The Hogs are 1-4 against the Crimson Tide in SEC Tournament play.
· UA has now lost five straight SEC Tournament games and is 2-8 all time in Hoover under skipper Dave Van Horn.
· Charley Boyce finished his career against Alabama with a 2.01 ERA in 22.1 innings, striking out 14 and walking six.
· Arkansas right-hander Daryl Maday tied a career high, pitching six innings.