Arkansas clinches series win with shutout over Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ( –  Ryne Stanek and Michael Gunn combined on a four-hit shutout as No. 12 Arkansas clinched its weekend series against Alabama with a 6-0 victory on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The Razorbacks improve to 23-8 overall and 8-3 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Crimson Tide drop to 19-13 and 7-4 in league play.

The victory clinches the weekend series for Arkansas. It's just the Razorbacks' third series win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Arkansas also won series against the Crimson Tide at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in 1995 and 2005.

The shutout was the sixth of the season for the Razorbacks. It was also just Arkansas' second shutout of the Crimson Tide in series history and the first against Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Stanek (3-2) was magnificent on the mound, tossing eight strong innings and allowing four hits and striking out five. The junior right hander did not allow an Alabama runner to reach second base in his eight innings of work. Gunn came in and finished off the game, striking out a batter in a perfect ninth inning.

Alabama starter Jon Keller (3-4) took the loss after allowing four runs, just two earned, on seven hits and striking out seven in six innings of work.

The Razorback offense recorded 13 hits in the win, the second-straight double-digit hit total in the series and Arkansas' seventh 10-plus hit effort in 11 conference games. Dominic Ficociello had a team-high three hits and scored a run. Brian Anderson, Eric Fisher, Joe Serrano, Matt Vinson and Jake Wise each had a pair of hits. Anderson drove in a pair of runs and scored twice. Jacob Morris also had two RBI in the win.

Kyle Overstreet had a pair of hits to lead the Crimson Tide at the plate. Austen Smith and Mikey White each had a hit for Alabama.

Along with the strong offense and pitching, the Razorbacks also played one of their best defensive games of the season. Arkansas turned three double plays in the win. Anderson and Jacob Mahan also turned in a pair of outstanding defensive plays in the sixth. Andrew Miller hit a sharp ground ball to the left of Mahan, who made a diving stop and then got up and threw Miller out by half a step at first. Two batters later, Kenny Roberts hit a grounder deep in the hole between second and third. Anderson fielded going away from second base and threw across his body to first to retire Roberts and end the inning.

The Razorbacks struck first with a pair of runs in the top of the second. Anderson reached on an error by Roberts to start the inning. Ficociello then singled up the middle to put runners on first and second. A base hit to center by Vinson loaded the bases. Wise then drove in the first run of the game with an infield single, scoring Anderson from third base. With one out, Morris then lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Ficociello from third with the second run of the inning.

Arkansas doubled the lead with two  more runs in the top of the third. Serrano started the inning with a double down the right field line. After a ground out by Tyler Spoon, Anderson laced a double down the left field line, scoring Serrano from second base. Anderson moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a two-out single to center by Vinson to make the score 4-0.

The Razorbacks stretched the lead to 5-0 with a run in the seventh. Serrano had a one-out single to right-center field and then moved to second on a wild pitch. With two out, Anderson drove in a run with a single to center, scoring Serrano from second base.

Arkansas closed the scoring with a run in the top of the eighth. With runners on second and third and one out, Morris hit his second sacrifice fly of the game, scoring Wise from third base with the Razorbacks' sixth run of the game.

Alabama struggled to get anything going offensively against Stanek and Gunn. The Crimson Tide had one hit in the second, third, fifth and eighth innings, but were unable to advance a runner to scoring position in the game.

Arkansas and Alabama close the weekend series on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. The Razorbacks will start senior southpaw Randall Fant (2-0, 1.26), while the Crimson Tide will start sophomore righty Spencer Turnbull (3-1, 2.59).