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Big fifth inning propels Hogs to win in series opener

Arkansas scored all seven of its runs with two outs Thursday night, taking the series opener from the Alabama Crimson Tide.

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — An outburst of timely hitting in the fifth inning Thursday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium produced five Razorback runs, propelling Arkansas to a 7-3 victory in the series opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

It was not exactly smooth sailing early on for the Hogs, with sophomore right-handed pitcher Will McEntire making his first start in a Southeastern Conference game.

The Bryant native made it through four innings on 79 pitches, doing a solid job of limiting damage.

Will McEntire (Alabama Athletics)

The Crimson Tide tagged him for four hits and two runs in the second and strung together two-out knocks to make it 3-0 in the fourth, but the seven other runners he allowed failed to score.

After getting perfected for four innings, the Razorback bats came to life with two outs in the fifth. Graduate right fielder Chris Lanzilli led off the frame with a single, and freshman first baseman Peyton Stovall cut the deficit to one run with a two-run bomb to right field.

The rally did not stop there, as senior shortstop Jalen Battles got the line moving again with a long single. Junior left fielder Zack Gregory drew a walk to bring up sophomore third baseman Cayden Wallace, who hit a tape-measure three-run shot to left, giving Arkansas a 5-3 advantage.

Senior righty Kole Ramage relieved McEntire to begin the Alabama fifth, recording four outs before giving way to Evan Taylor.

The senior left-hander took care of the next six outs, four of which came on strikes, then turned it over to freshman righty Brady Tygart. After consecutive appearances in which he earned losses, he bounced back to strike out two Tide hitters and earn a five-out save.

Battles padded the Razorback lead in the ninth, plugging the left-center field gap with a two-out, two-run double.

Arkansas secured a first-round bye in next week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, with the win.

The bye affords the Razorbacks the opportunity to skip the single-elimination round of 12 teams, and begin play Wednesday in the double-elimination round of eight.

Arkansas and Alabama are set to square off again at 7 p.m. Friday, a contest that will be broadcast on the SEC Network. Senior right-handed pitcher Connor Noland is expected to start opposite Crimson Tide righty Jacob McNairy.

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