FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Sean Jones stole third and scored on a throwing error to give the Arkansas baseball team a 5-4 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide on Larry Shank Day at Baum Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Jones’ score pushed Arkansas (28-20, 10-13 SEC) into the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning allowing Mike Bolsinger and Stephen Richards to close the door on any Alabama (28-22, 12-12 SEC) comeback bid.
The Razorbacks held the Crimson Tide scoreless through the final five innings of play to earn the victory and give them the opportunity for the final at-bat win. In the eighth, Casey Coon led off with a scorching double off the wall in left-center field and the runner in scoring position allowed Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn to replace Coon with a speedy Sean Jones.
With one out in the inning, Jones broke for third on what would end up being a swinging strikeout by Brett Eibner and as Jones slid head first into the bag, the throw by Alabama’s catcher sailed over the third baseman and into left field allowing Jones to score standing up and give Arkansas its second and final lead of the game, 5-4.
While the Razorbacks were able to get their final at-bat win, none of it would have been possible without great pitching throughout the game. Cliff Springston got the start and threw 4.2 innings allowing all four Crimson Tide runs. With two out in the fifth, Arkansas’ coaching staff turned the ball over to Bolsinger who would keep the Crimson Tide hitless through the next 3.2 innings, striking out four. Richards would pick up his third save of the year after coming in with one out in the ninth to face a pair of left-handed Alabama batters.
Alabama would open the scoring in the first inning with a solo home run, but Arkansas would come right back with two in the bottom of the inning. The Razorbacks opened their half of the inning with three straight singles from Chase Leavitt, Ben Tschepikow and Logan Forsythe. Forsythe’s single scored Leavitt. Two batters later and Coon would deliver an RBI single through the left side to make it 2-0.
Arkansas would make it a 4-1 game in the bottom of the second after Ryan Cisterna got on thanks to an Alabama error. Leavitt would hit a double to drive in Cisterna and another RBI single by Forsythe would score Leavitt from second.
The Crimson Tide would score three unanswered runs to tie the score on a RBI double in the third and a two-run home run in the fourth which prompted the Arkansas coaches to bring in Bolsinger.
Prior to Sunday’s game, Arkansas honored the late Larry Shank, long time public address announcer for the Razorbacks. The PA booth at Baum Stadium was dedicated the Larry Shank Public Address Booth and artwork depicting Shank’s career was unveiled and will be hung in the press area of Baum Stadium. The Shank family was in attendance for the ceremonies.
The Razorback victory puts Arkansas just ½ game behind both Kentucky and Tennessee for an opportunity to play in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, May 21-25. The Razorbacks have South Carolina and Mississippi State remaining on its schedule. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit www.hogwired.com.