TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Austen Smith drove in four runs, while Taylor Dugas added three hits and scored two runs as No. 25 Alabama defeated Arkansas 5-3 in the series opener on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
Arkansas is now 18-7 and 2-5 in Southeastern Conference play, while Alabama improves to 20-8 and 6-1 in league play.
Collin Kuhn had a breakout performance at the plate, tying a career-high with four hits, including his third homer of the season. Kuhn drove in all three of the Razorback runs in the ball game and also stole two bases.
Bo Bigham, Tim Carver, Jarrod McKinney and Jacob Rice each added a hit in the loss. Carver and Matt Reynolds each stole a base.
Smith drove in four of Alabama’s five runs and went 2-for-4 with a triple. Dugas had a team-high three hits and scored a pair of runs.
Nathan Kilcrease earned the win on the mound to improve to 4-1 on the season. Kilcrease gave up two runs on six hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings. Cade Lynch suffered his first loss of the season to drop to 2-1. Lynch allowed four runs, just two earned, on five hits in two innings of action. Jonathan Smart picked up his sixth save of the season, throwing 1.1 scoreless innings with three punch outs.
Arkansas reliever Brandon Moore kept the Razorbacks in the game, throwing six strong innings out of the bullpen with just one run allowed on five hits with five strikeouts.
The Crimson Tide struck first with three runs in the bottom of the first. Dugas led off the inning with a single to center. Brock Bennett laid down a sacrifice bunt to Lynch, but he bobbled the ball, allowing Bennett to reach on the error. Jared Reaves also laid a down a bunt back to Lynch, who tried to throw out Dugas at third, but he was able to beat the play to load the bases with nobody out. Smith cleared the bases with a triple down the right field line to put Alabama in front 3-0.
Alabama added a run in the bottom of the second. Brett Booth opened the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by James Tullidge. After a walk to Dugas, Bennett singled to left field to load the bases with one out. Reaves then hit a pop fly to second and was ruled out an infield fly. However, Bigham dropped the ball at second and the ball rolled far enough away for Booth to score from third on the error to put the Crimson Tide on top 4-0.
The Crimson Tide stretched the lead to five with a run in the home half of the fourth. Dugas singled to lead off the inning and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Bennett. After a strikeout of Reaves, Smith singled into left field to score Dugas from second.
Arkansas got on the board with two runs in the top of the fifth. Carver walked to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a single to right field by Bigham. Each runner moved up a base on a ground out to short by Reynolds. Kuhn drove in a pair of runs with a single to right center field to cut the Alabama lead to 5-2.
The Razorbacks got another run back in the eighth. Kuhn led off the inning with a solo home run to right field, his third homer of the season, to bring Arkansas within two runs.
Arkansas was able to get the tying runs in scoring position in the ninth, but couldn’t drive them in. Carver looped a single to right field with one out and then moved to second on a wild pitch with two out. A walk to Reynolds put runners on first and second. A perfectly executed double steal moved the runners to second and third. Smart was able to get Kuhn to strike out looking to end the ball game and preserve the Crimson Tide win.
Arkansas and Alabama continue the three-game series on Saturday with a 2:05 p.m. first pitch. The Razorbacks have not announced a starter for the game, while Alabama will start junior lefty Adam Morgan (3-1, 4.54).