Arkansas downs Alabama in series opener

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ( – The Alabama bats were held to four hits as the 22nd-ranked Crimson Tide dropped the first game of the series with the No 9-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks, 3-1, on Thursday night from Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The loss drops Alabama to 19-12 overall and 7-3 in the SEC. Arkansas improves to 22-8 and 7-3 in conference play.

"First of all, give credit to Arkansas, their arms are really good and as they got into the bullpen every guy was low to mid 90's with good breaking balls," Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "We were a little sloppy out there defensively tonight. They put some pretty good swings on Charley (Sullivan) in the front part of the game and we were able to manage and keep the game in reach. We have to play a little cleaner and get some better at-bats in the front part of the game and really build on what we did in the ninth inning there tonight."

Arkansas reliever Jalen Beeks (4-0) earned the win after allowing one hit and one walk with three strikeouts in 2.2 innings of scoreless baseball. Beeks took over for starter Barrett Astin, who allowed one unearned run in 4.1 innings. Colby Suggs threw 39 pitches in the ninth inning and recorded his fourth save of the year.

The Razorbacks strung together three hits in the second, including a bunt single by Jacob Morris to score Matt Vinson from third. Joe Serrano followed by hitting a single into right field, but Willie Schwanke was gunned out by Miller at home plate, keeping the score at 1-0. Arkansas threatened again in the third when they put runners on the corners with one out, but Sullivan came up with a big strikeout and fly out to work out of the jam.

Arkansas added a pair of runs in the fifth, as a pair of errors by Alabama aided to the Razorback's inning. Serrano reached on a two-base error to open the inning then scored on a mishandled Tyler Spoon single to left field. Jake Wise eventually scored the second Razorback run of the inning to go up 3-0 when White lost control of the ball after getting the first out of a possible inning-ending double play.

The Tide responded in the bottom of the frame. Carlisle reached safely after legging out an infield single to first, and then White reached first on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a Miller single. An error on the Razorbacks' first baseman Schwanke as Salem reached first on a possible inning-ending double play allowed White to score and cut the lead to 3-1.

Alabama rallied in the eighth and ninth innings, getting a pair of runners aboard in both innings. UA had runners on first and second in the eighth with one out, but back-to-back strikeouts by Booth and Austen Smith ended the threat.

"I thought we did a terrific job battling in the ninth to give our self a chance," Gaspard said. "Those guys gave all really good at-bats. We have to carry that into tomorrow and be a little better earlier in the game offensively and also get that pitch count up a little bit."

In the ninth, freshman second baseman Kyle Overstreet worked an 11-pitch walk to lead off the frame and with two outs, Andrew Miller worked a walk on seven pitches. After battling for nine pitches, Salem drove a ball deep in the hole to the shortstop, but was unable to leg out the single for the final out of the game.

The Alabama Crimson Tide returns to action tomorrow at Sewell-Thomas Stadium for game two at 6:35 p.m. CT, and the final game will be played on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. CT. Alabama will start sophomore LHP Jon Keller (3-3, 3.86) on Friday, and Arkansas will counter with junior RHP Ryne Stanek (2-2, 2.34).