No. 11 Alabama Holds Off Arkansas 9-5
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas Razorbacks came up short in their come-back bid Friday night, falling to the 11th-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 9-5 in the series opener at Baum Stadium.
Trailing 9-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the Razorbacks put up four runs to close the gap to 9-5 before Taylor Tankersley, the third Tide relief pitcher of the night, forced Nick Pitts to ground out to first to end the game with the bases loaded.
Arkansas dropped to 11-9 overall and 1-3 in conference play, while the Crimson Tide improved to 20-2 and 4-0 in the SEC.
Lance Cormier pitched eight innings for the Tide, holding Arkansas to one run on nine hits to up his record to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in the SEC. Tankersley earned his third save of the season by retiring Pitts in the ninth.
Jonathan Richmond took the loss for the Razorbacks, allowing five runs on six hits in five innings of work. Richmond dropped to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the SEC.
Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a two-out home run by Peter Stonard off Richmond.
Arkansas evened the score in the bottom of the first on an RBI single to shallow right field by Michael Conner that plated Kirk McConnell who reached on an infield single.
The Crimson Tide regained the lead in the second inning when Brent Boyed tripled and scored on a ground out by Beau Hearod.
Alabama increased its lead to 3-1 in the sixth inning. Jeremy Brown ripped an RBI double to left that plated Carlos Sosa. Richmond was replaced by Jarrett Gardner who intentionally walked the bases loaded with one out to set up the double play. But, Travis Garner singled to left and the ball got by fielder Andrew Wishy to clear the bases and give Alabama a 6-1 lead. Adam Pavkovich singled through the left side to score Garner for a 7-1 lead before Gardner was able to end the inning with a pair of strikeouts.
After giving up a run in the first inning, Alabama pitcher Lance Cormier found his groove on the mound. Cormier scattered just four hits over the next four innings of play and worked out of a two-on one-out jam with a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Alabama made it a 9-1 game with a pair of runs in the seventh. Hearod singled home Stonard and Brent Boyed scored on a balk.
The Razorbacks made it a 9-2 game on Scott Bridges’ RBI double to left that scored Pitts, who singled to begin the inning. Kirk McConnell walked with the bases loaded to bring home Hagedorn to cut the deficit to 9-3 with one out in the inning. Cliff Crouse then hit a bloop single to center to score Bridges to make it a 9-4 game, with the bases loaded.
Fox brought the Hogs within 9-5 when he reached on an error by the Alabama first baseman to score Fletcher for the fourth Arkansas run of the inning before Pitts’ ground out ended the game.
Arkansas freshman Clint Brannon made his debut in a Razorback uniform, replacing Gardner in the seventh inning. Brannon pitched three innings, allowing two runs on two hits with a pair of strikeouts and walks in his first collegiate action.
Michael Conner paced the Hogs offensively, going 3-for-5 and driving in Arkansas’ first run of the night.
Arkansas and Alabama continue the series with game two Saturday at 2 p.m. at Baum Stadium. Arkansas will send Gary Hogan, Jr., to the mound while the Crimson Tide counters with Josh Baker.
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