Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Arkansas starter delivers a command performance
Trey Killian delivers a pitch during Arkansas' 10-2 win over Evansville on Feb. 24, 2012 at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas finally won a 2-1 game. Alabama is still trying.
The Razorbacks beat the Crimson Tide 2-1 behind Trey Killian’s complete-game pitching performance Saturday before an announced crowd of 5,644 at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas (12-8, 2-3 SEC) had been 0-3 in 2-1 games. Alabama (15-7, 3-2) is 0-4.
“I’d rather have it be 10-2,” Razorbacks Coach Dave Van Horn said, “but just winning is good.”
Arkansas took a 2-1 lead on Eric Fisher’s RBI single with one out in the bottom of the eighth that scored Brian Anderson, who walked and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Spoon.
Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard chose to intentionally walk catcher Jake Wise, a right-handed hitter batting .170, to set up a double-play situation and have left-handed pitcher Thomas Burrows face the left-handed hitting Fisher.
Fisher, who came into the game to play first base for Blake Baxendale in the top of the eighth inning, hit an 0-2 fastball into left field.
“Their kid stepped up and got a big hit in a left-onleft situation,” Gaspard said. “Burrows has been extremely tough on left-handers all year, but he just got enough of the barrel on the ball to hit it the other way. It was a real clutch at-bat for him.”
Fisher, batting .254, said it fired him up when Wise was walked in front of him.
“They wanted me,” Fisher said, “so it just made the matchup even better.”
Killian, a sophomore right hander from Mountain Home, retired Alabama in order in the ninth on 14 pitches, striking out Austen Smith swinging to end the game.
Killian allowed 4 hits, struck out 7 and gave up 2 walks.
“I know his pitch count was getting up there,” Van Horn said of Killian, who ended up throwing 117 pitches, “but I guarantee if we tried to take him out in the ninth, he would have went crazy.
“He deserved to stay out there and finish that thing if at all possible.”
Killian (1-3) lowered his earned run average to 2.36. He took losses the previous two weekends - 2-1 at California and 1-0 at Florida - while allowing 2 earned runs in 15 innings.
“He’s got a very good fastball, and he can really command it,” Van Horn said. “What’s really taken him to the next level that I’ve seen the last three outings is off speed stuff. His breaking ball, he’s throwing it a lot more for a strike. He’s keeping it down. “
Killian, who retired 14 of the Tide’s last 15 hitters, said he never felt tired.
“I think adrenaline took over,” he said. “Throughout the whole game it was pumping.”
Gaspard said Killian did a good job with his breaking pitches in fastball counts.
“That really kept us off balance and kept our bats in check.” Gaspard said.
Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Ben Moore’s blooper down the right-field line fell between Baxendale, second baseman Brian Anderson and outfielder Clark Egan to score Chance Vincent from second after he had walked and been bunted to second.
Alabama’s Casey Hughston reached base in the fifth inning when his popup fell behind the pitching mound when no Razorbacks infielders took charge. Killian stranded Hughston at second base - helping himself by sprinting off the mound to catch a foul pop out - and Van Horn lit into his players when the Razorbacks came into the dugout afterward.
“I told them, ‘If you’re going to get beat, you need to get beat giving your greatest effort,’ ” Van Horn said. “I told them we have to be aggressive. We need to take the game to them.”
The Razorbacks tied it 1-1 in the seventh inning when they got three consecutive two-out singles by their Nos. 7-8-9 hitters - Krisjon Wilkerson, Bobby Wernes and Michael Bernal - against Alabama starter Justin Kamplain.
“It was a tough day to score runs, and they got a couple of big hits when they had to get them,” Gaspard said.
Bernal said the Razorbacks fed off Killian’s energy and were motivated to bounce back from their 17-9 loss in the series opener.
“The way that game went was completely opposite of what we wanted,” Bernal said. “I think that game, more than anything, got us fired up to come out here today and show those guys that’s not us. We’ve got a lot more.”
FRIDAY’S GAMES Alabama 17, Arkansas 9 LSU 4, Georgia 0 Florida 5, Texas A&M 3 Mississippi 4, Missouri 3 Mississippi State 17, Vanderbilt 2 Kentucky 13, South Carolina 5 Auburn 3, Tennessee 2
SATURDAY’S GAMES Arkansas 2, Alabama 1 Kentucky 2, South Carolina 1 Mississippi 7, Missouri 1 Texas A&M 5, Florida 4 Auburn 4, Tennessee 2 LSU 2, Georgia 1 Vanderbilt at Mississippi State, (n)
TODAY’S GAMES All times Central Georgia at LSU, noon South Carolina at Kentucky, noon Alabama at Arkansas, 1 p.m.
Auburn at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
Florida at Texas A&M, 1 p.m.
Missouri at Mississippi, 1:30 p.m.
Vanderbilt at Mississippi State, 1:30 p.m.
Today’s game Alabam at Arkansas WHEN 1:05 p.m.
WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 12-8, 2-3 SEC. Alabama 15-7, 3-2.
TICKETS Reserved $12. General admission $10.
RADIO RSP statewide radio network. Not all games will be carried by affiliates. Check local listings.
TV Cox Sports Television (Cox channel 119 in Northwest Arkansas) INTERNET arkansasrazorbacks.com and ESPN3
PITCHING MATCHUP Alabama: Jon Keller (LHP, 4-0, 1.63 ERA). Arkansas: Chris Oliver (RHP, 1-2, 2.25 ERA).
SHORT HOPS Arkansas starting pitcher Trey Killian has allowed 3 earned runs in his past 24 innings against California, Florida and Alabama. ... Saturday’s announced crowd of 5,644 was a season high at Baum Stadium. ... Razorbacks second baseman Brian Anderson was hit by a pitch for the 14th time this season. The Razorbacks have been hit by pitches 41 times in 20 games and have been hit by a pitch at least once in 17 games. ... Arkansas is 3-6 in one-run games. ... Saturday marked Arkansas’ first victory this season when it trailed after six innings.
THE WEEK AHEAD TODAY vs. Alabama 1:05 p.m.
MONDAY off TUESDAY vs. Miss. Valley St. (DH), 3:05 p.m.
WEDNESDAY vs. Miss. Valley St.*, 6:35 p.m.
THURSDAY off FRIDAY at Mississippi State, 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY at Mississippi State, 2 p.m.
*at Dickey-Stephens Park, North Little Rock
Sports, Pages 23 on 03/23/2014