TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After two hits with runners in scoring position, things were shaping up nicely for Arkansas on Saturday afternoon at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
The Crimson Tide had other plans, however, exploiting mediocre Razorback pitching for five or more runs in three different innings to beat the Hogs 18-5 and win its first Southeastern Conference series since April 10.
Things were looking up for the Hogs after the first inning, in which they scored twice and came back up to bat quickly after a 12-pitch frame from sophomore right-handed pitcher Jaxon Wiggins.
Graduate right fielder Chris Lanzilli delivered his third RBI knock in as many at-bats to get Arkansas on the board, and senior shortstop Jalen Battles drove in another run to make it 2-0.
The wheels fell off in the second, as the Crimson Tide struck six times. Five of the six hitters Wiggins faced reached base and scored, and Alabama chased senior righty Kole Ramage after three batters, the last of whom hit an RBI double to cap the scoring.
Freshman left-hander Hagen Smith put out the fire with a strikeout, but he rekindled it in the third with a hit batsman, two walks and a wild pitch that made it 7-2.
The Razorbacks countered in the fourth with a solo home run by sophomore third baseman Cayden Wallace, his second longball of the series, but Smith fanned the flames even more in the bottom of the frame.
Four hitters in, two runs had scored and two more runners were on base, so the Hogs turned to senior left-hander Evan Taylor. He allowed the two inherited runners to score and two more unearned runs, following senior first baseman Brady Slavens’ fielding error.
After recording the final out of the fourth, senior righty Elijah Trest issued three free passes, giving way to junior right-hander Miller Pleimann. Alabama notched its 14th run on a sacrifice fly and reloaded the bases in time for nine-hole hitter Bryce Eblin to unleash an opposite-field grand slam.
Arkansas senior center fielder Braydon Webb belted a two-run shot to left, cutting the deficit to 18-5, but it was far too much to overcome.
The Hogs are slated to play at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in the second round of the SEC Tournament.
Arkansas will get the winner of the Georgia-Alabama game, which will be played at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Both games will be broadcast on the SEC Network.