TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama starting pitcher Adam Morgan allowed just two runs in eight innings of work, while Brett Booth went 2-for-3 with two RBI to lead the 25th-ranked Crimson Tide to a 5-3 series-clinching win over Arkansas on Saturday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Arkansas has now dropped four straight and is 18-8 overall and 2-6 in Southeastern Conference play. Alabama improves to 21-8 and 7-1 in league play.
For the second straight game, Alabama benefited greatly from some shaky defense by the Razorbacks. Arkansas committed three errors in the game, leading to three unearned runs.
Collin Kuhn was the only Arkansas player to record a multi-hit game, recording two hits and scoring a run. Franco Broyles had a team-high two RBI and went 1-for-4, while James McCann hit his fourth home run of the season in the loss.
Booth and Brandt Hendricks each had two hits to lead Alabama at the plate. Booth had two RBI, while Hendricks drove in a run.
Morgan earned his fourth win of the season on the mound. Morgan was sharp in his eight innings, allowing just two runs on six hits, while striking out seven. For the second straight game, Jonathan Smart nailed down the save in the ninth, allowing a run on two hits.
DJ Baxendale pitched well, but took the loss for Arkansas to drop to 5-1 on the year. Baxendale gave up five runs, just two earned, with six strikeouts over a career-long 6.2 innings. Barrett Astin pitched the final 1.1 in the ball game and did not allow a hit.
Arkansas jumped out to the lead in the top of the second as McCann led off the inning with a solo home run off the scoreboard in left-center field. The run marked the first time that the Razorbacks had struck first in a game since the Saturday game at Auburn.
Alabama quickly answered, evening the game with a run in the bottom of the second. Austen Smith doubled to the left-center field alley to start the inning. After the next two batters were retired, Hendricks looped a double in front of Jacob Rice in left field, scoring Smith from second base to tie the game.
The Crimson Tide took the lead with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Smith reached on a fielding error by Matt Reynolds at third to lead off the inning. A single to center field by Josh Rosecrans advanced Smith to second. Andrew Miller attempted to bunt the runners over, but Baxendale fielded the bunt and threw to third to retire Smith for the first out of the inning. After Hendricks flied out to center for the second out, Booth singled to left field to score Rosecrans to make the score 2-1.
Alabama added another run in the bottom of the sixth. With two out, Miller reached on a fielding error by Tim Carver at short. Hendricks singled to left field to move Miller to second. Booth drove in his second run of the game on a single to center field, scoring Miller.
Arkansas got a run back in the top of the seventh. McCann walked to lead off the inning and moved to second on a single to center by Kyle Robinson. A sacrifice bunt by Rice moved McCann to third and Robinson to second. Broyles drove in a run on a ground out to short to cut the Alabama lead to one.
Alabama answered back in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run uprising. Taylor Dugas led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brock Bennett. Jared Reaves walked to put runners at first and second. Smith grounded into a fielder’s choice to short as Reaves was retired at second base for the second out of the inning. With runners at the corners, Smith moved to second on a delay steal. When McCann threw to second, Dugas broke from third and tried to steal home. The throw back to the plate by Bigham hit Baxendale in the back and rolled into the dugout, allowing Dugas to score. Smith advanced to third on the throwing error and the umpires awarded Smith home after the ball rolled into the dugout to put the Crimson Tide in front 5-2.
Trailing by three entering the ninth, Arkansas was able to get a run and get the tying run on base before the late rally fell short. Kuhn singled to right to begin the inning and moved to second when Robinson drew a one-out walk. Rice grounded into a fielder’s choice to the pitcher with Robinson being retired at second and Kuhn advancing to third. Broyles kept the rally alive, beating out a close play at first for an infield single, which allowed Kuhn to score and moved Rice to third. Carver flied out to center to end the game.
Arkansas will look to salvage the final game of the series on Sunday with first pitch set for 1:05 p.m. Sophomore southpaw Randall Fant (1-2, 2.49) will start for the Razorbacks, while Alabama will throw sophomore righty Tucker Hawley (5-1, 2.89). The game will be televised on CSS, CST (channel 119 in Northwest Arkansas) and will also be available on ESPN3.com.