Fayetteville, AR (UofA) – The No. 7 Arkansas Razorbacks finished off their third conference series sweep of the year Sunday after enduring a five-run third inning by the Alabama Crimson Tide and, then, completing a three-run comeback, capped by a three-run home run by sophomore Dominic Fletcher to win 9-7 at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas (32-13, 13-8 SEC) continues to play well at home as it is now 26-3 in games at Baum Stadium and Sunday's win was its eighth victory by two runs or less at home. With the sweep, it's also the first time since 2010 that the Hogs have swept three or more conference series in the same season.
The Razorbacks trailed 6-3 going into the bottom of the third and then 7-4 going into the bottom of the fifth, but got the bats hot at the right time. After pulling within two in the fifth on an RBI single from junior Grant Koch, the Hogs had a major scoring opportunity with two on and only one out.
Alabama (23-23, 5-16 SEC) had decided after the score to bring in Dylan Duarte from the bullpen to face Fletcher. Fletcher fouled off an 0-2 pitch down the right field line just missing a home run by inches. On the next pitch, the sophomore was able to go the other way and stroke his sixth home run of the year into the seats in the Hog Pen.
The homer pushed the Razorbacks ahead 8-7 and gave them a lead they never relinquished. The pitching combo of Barrett Loseke, Evan Lee, and Jake Reindl threw four scoreless innings the rest of the way, allowing just two hits and striking out eight.
Loseke was able to pick up the win, his first, after 2.1 innings of work with just one hit allowed. Reindl corralled the save, his fourth, striking out two in the final inning.
All six Razorback batters that had at least one hit Sunday turned in multi-hit performances. Eric Cole and Jordan McFarland led all hitters with three hits each, while Casey Martin, Heston Kjerstad, Koch, and Fletcher all turned in two hits.
Martin and Fletcher both hit home runs to push Arkansas' team total for the season to 69, which leads the SEC. Martin's big fly was the lone run in the third inning, but seemed to give Arkansas life and pull it within two with six innings to play.
Martin finishes the series with four hits, two home runs, and four RBIs. Over his last nine games, the Lonoke, Arkansas native is hitting .364 with four multi-hit games, three home runs, and nine runs driven in, tying for the most on the team during that stretch.
As for Fletcher, the sophomore continues to be the hottest hitter on the team. He went 2-for-4 with four RBIs in Sunday's game, his second game this year with four or more RBIs. Over the month of April, Fletcher led all Razorback hitters with a .448 average (26-of-58) and 11 RBIs. In five of his last six games, he racked up multi-hit performances and drove in two or more twice.
The win by Loseke finishes off a stellar week for the junior from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He appeared three times in four games, all out of the bullpen and didn't give up a run in 8.1 innings. After picking up the save against No. 4 Texas Tech on Tuesday with a career-high 10 strikeouts, Loseke came back for another save on Saturday against Alabama, and then, completed the week with the win on Sunday.
Loseke only gave up two hits combined in his three appearances and struck out 17, while walking only four.
On Sunday, the staff struggled in the first three frames, which included a five-run third with three wild pitches and two errors, until Caleb Bolden came in and slowed down the Crimson Tide. Bolden pitched two innings, only giving up one run, and striking out two Alabama hitters.
Reindl came in the eighth inning, to pitch 1.2 innings, striking out three batters and finished the game out for the Hogs. It was his fourth save of the year and second in conference play.
"Without him, we might not have won two more ball games. He was great on Tuesday night against Texas Tech, and obviously the last couple of days he kind of saved us." – Head coach Dave Van Horn on Barrett Loseke's dominant week
"A wins, a win, just get wins you know. It's like I tell the guys, you want to win series, but it's all about wins. At the end of the conference season, it's about how many wins you have in league play. Not so much who you beat, if you got more wins than the next team, you're ahead of them. That's what we're trying to do, stay ahead of as many people as we can." – Head Coach Dave Van Horn on racking up another conference sweep
"It was a 1-2 count, he threw four breaking balls in a row and I kind of had a feeling he was coming back with a fastball. It was a fastball on the outside part of the plate, and I put a good swing on it." –Dominic Fletcher on his three-run home run
"Things weren't going well early on, which is tough. It's tough for everyone, it brings down the team morale, but with a lineup like ours and a defense like ours, I think we had the confidence to come back into the game. Jake (Reindl) and I were ready to come in, whether we were down or up, we knew the offense would turn it around. We have confidence in our teammates, even though we were down, we trust each other to come back." – Barrett Loseke on the resilience of the pitching staff
"It keeps the momentum on our side. Where that would've been a massive hit, it's an out, and I get the ball back and I get to do it again." – Jake Reindl on Dominic Fletcher's diving catch in the eighth inning