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Diamond Hogs squander opportunity, drop middle game to Alabama

Six Alabama runs in the fifth inning proved to be too much for Arkansas to overcome Friday night, as the Crimson Tide won 8-6.

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The fifth inning was the backbreaker once again Friday night, but this time it was the Razorbacks on the short end. Senior right-handed pitcher Connor Noland and junior left-hander Zack Morris combined to surrender six runs to the Alabama Crimson Tide, which went on to beat Arkansas 8-6.

The Hogs jumped out to the lead in the second inning on an RBI groundout by senior shortstop Jalen Battles. Senior designated hitter Brady Slavens extended the advantage to two runs in the fourth with an RBI single to center, which scored graduate right fielder Chris Lanzilli after his leadoff double.

Three Crimson Tide singles turned into a run in the bottom of the fourth, making it a 2-1 game, but Arkansas countered with two more runs in the top of the fifth. Battles led off with an infield single and scored on graduate catcher Michael Turner’s RBI single, and Lanzilli drove him in with a single to center.

Alabama’s response was much more devastating, as the Tide chased Noland after 4 1/3 innings. Six of the last 11 batters he faced recorded singles, but the Hogs still hung onto the lead by the time he left. Morris had no answers however, and all four hitters he faced reached. Senior righty Zebulon Vermillion had to put out the fire, which he did with a strikeout and a flyout, but Alabama led 7-4 after five.

Crimson Tide center fielder Andrew Pinckney led off the sixth with a solo blast to make it a four-run game, but Vermillion got through the rest of the inning without any trouble.

Arkansas responded with two runs in the seventh, courtesy of Lanzilli’s two-out double, his third hit of the contest.

Senior right-hander Kole Ramage worked scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth, affording the Hogs the opportunity to complete the comeback, but they stranded two runners in the ninth.

The Razorbacks will need a win and a Texas A&M loss Saturday to clinch the No. 2 seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament and the Western Division title. The rubber match with Alabama is set for 1 p.m., and it will stream live on the SEC Network+.

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