TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Tommy Hunter had Arkansas’ number on the mound and Alabama got every hit to fall in a 10-0 route of the ninth-ranked Razorbacks in front of 4,507 fans at Sewell-Thomas Stadium on Friday night.
The loss marks just the second time the Hogs have lost two straight games this season as the record dips to 36-15 overall and 16-9 in SEC play. It also marked the first time the Razorbacks have been shut out since Georgia turned the trick on March 24, 2006, at Baum Stadium. Alabama improves to 28-22 and 12-13 in league action.
Hunter cruised to his sixth win of the season with eight shutout innings. He surrendered just five hits and fanned seven while walking two and hitting two batters. Patrick Kelly finished things off in the ninth with two strikeouts.
Alex Avila led the Crimson Tide’s 13-hit attack, going 3 for 5 with a triple, home run and four RBI. Elvin Vargas added a career-high three hits and Greg Paiml went 3 for 4 with two RBI.
Arkansas was credited with six hits on the night with Jacob Julius getting the Razorbacks’ only extra-base, doubling in the ninth inning. Brian Walker did reach base four times with a single, walk and two hit by pitches. The Razorback defense didn’t help either by matching a season-high five errors.
Emeel Salem led off with a single off the end of the bat into center field. He was erased on what was a tailor-made double-play ball to shortstop, but Matt Willard bobbled the ball and negated the double play allowing Brandon May to reach first. Avila made the Hogs play with a RBI triple into right-center field.
The Crimson Tide added their second run with a single to right field by Vargas, but Matt Bentley was cut down at the plate by left-fielder Casey Coon trying to score from second base on the play.
Nick Schmidt flirted with disaster in the third inning but got out of a bases-loaded jam, but he couldn’t do the same in the fourth inning as Alabama went on top 5-0. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases and Avila delivered a bases-clearing single that scored two runs with the third coming around to score on a bobbled ball in the outfield.
That would be the end of the night for Schmidt, who allowed five runs – four earned – on seven hits in 3.2 innings with four walks and four strikeouts. The loss was Schmidt’s second in his last four outings and dropped his record to 9-2.
Dallas Keuchel struck out the final batter of the fourth inning but couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. The Crimson Tide scored three more runs highlighted by Paiml’s two-RBI chopper over the head of Logan Forsythe at third base to take a 8-0 lead.
Avila led off the sixth with his 12th home run of the season with a deep blast to right field on the first pitch of the inning. The Tide added their 10th run in the inning when Coon over threw the cutoff man and the ball eluded Walker at home plate, but Walker did track down the ball and threw out an Alabama runner at third.
The second game of the series is slated for 4 p.m. Saturday from Sewell-Thomas Stadium.