SEC:

Hogs befuddle Tide, win series

By: Bob Holt
Published: Monday, March 24, 2014
Arkansas pitcher Chris Oliver delivers the ball during game two of the series against Appalachian State on Saturday Feb. 15, 2014 at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas pitcher Chris Oliver delivers the ball during game two of the series against Appalachian State on Saturday Feb. 15, 2014 at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas pitcher Chris Oliver is convinced Alabama’s batters were stealing signs when the Crimson Tide beat the Razorbacks 17-9 on Friday night.

“It’s a little different when you don’t know what’s coming to you,” Oliver said. “I think that showed the last two days.”

Oliver and Michael Gunn combined to shut out Alabama 1-0 on Sunday at Baum Stadium before an announced crowd of 3,987 after Trey Killian pitched a complete game in the Razorbacks’ 2-1 victory on Saturday.

Oliver said he’s not sure if Alabama (15-8, 3-3 SEC) was being tipped off Friday night by Arkansas’ pitchers or catcher Jake Wise, but there’s no doubt in his mind the Tide hitters knew what they would be seeing.

“I know they were,” Oliver said. “They were squaring too many balls up.”

Killian, Oliver and Gunn limited Alabama to eight hits after the Tide had 15 on Friday night and Arkansas (13-8, 3-3) suffered its most-lopsided loss of the season.

“It’s frustrating when you swing the bat as well as we did Friday night and then struggle,” said Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard, who spoke to a reporter before Oliver made his comments. “But it’s the old adage, good pitching always beats good hitting.

“I thought Killian and Oliver both were just really sharp and made a lot of quality pitches. They just kind of beat us up.”

Oliver (2-2), a junior righthander from Farmington, went a career-long 7 innings and held the Tide to 4 hits and 1 walk with 6 strikeouts on 104 pitches.

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said it was the best game of Oliver’s career.

“He actually changed speeds on his fastball, used his breaking ball a lot, mixed in a few changeups and did a good job of keeping Alabama off balance,” Van Horn said.

Oliver lasted only two innings in Arkansas’ 9-3 victory at Florida last Sunday, leaving the game with Arkansas up 4-1. Van Horn said Oliver was getting his pitches up and the Gators were getting good swings against him, so the coaches opted to go to the bullpen.

“We talked to him a little bit during the week about it, and I think he had a good week of getting mentally ready to pitch, and I think he fed off Killian’s performance,” Van Horn said. “He tried to match it and he pretty much did.”

Oliver said he had command of his fastball, slider and changeup.

“All I had was a fastballlast weekend,” Oliver said. “It’s a huge difference when you have three pitches that you command, especially as a starter.”

Van Horn said he considered leaving Oliver in for the eighth inning, but the decision to bring in Gunn, who hadn’t pitched all weekend, was made after Van Horn conferred with pitching coach Dave Jorn.

Gunn, a junior left-hander from Wilson, didn’t allow a base runner in his two innings and had three strikeouts to earn his third save.

“Michael Gunn was fresh and had good stuff and had been waiting to get the ball all weekend,” Van Horn said.“They hadn’t seen him and boy, he made us look like we made the right move.”

Arkansas scored the game’s only run in the second inning when KJ Wilkerson hit a one-out triple off Alabama starter Jon Keller (4-1) and scored on groundout by Bobby Wernes.

Arkansas has won its past three one-run games, including Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over Grambling State, after starting the season 1-6 in one-run games.

Killian and Oliver both showed a lot of emotion at the end of innings as they continued to hold down Alabama’s batters.

“We kind of needed thatafter what happened on Friday, because we got thumped pretty good and there was a lot of chirping going on,” Van Horn said. “I think our guys didn’t like that at all, and I appreciate the effort.”Up next

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE AT ARKANSAS WHEN 3:05 p.m. Tuesday (DH) WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 13-8. Mississippi Valley State 1-19.

TICKETS Reserved $12. General admission $10 RADIO RSP statewide radio network. Not all games will be carried by affiliates. Check local listings.

INTERNET www.arkansasrazorbacks.com and ESPN3 PITCHING MATCHUP For Arkansas LHP Colin Poche (1-0, 0.77 ERA) and RHP Lance Phillips (0-0, 4.50). TBA for Mississippi Valley State.

THE WEEK AHEAD TODAY Off TUESDAY vs Miss. Valley St. 3:05 p.m. (DH) 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.

SUNDAY at Mississippi State *At North Little Rock

SUNDAY’S GAMES Arkansas 1, Alabama 0 LSU 2, Georgia 2, 13 inn.

Texas A&M 4, Florida 3, 11 inn.

South Carolina 8, Kentucky 3 Tennessee 8, Auburn 6 Ole Miss 8, Missouri 3 Vanderbilt 5, Mississippi State 1

Up next

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE AT ARKANSAS WHEN 3:05 p.m. Tuesday (DH) WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 13-8. Mississippi Valley State 1-19.

RADIO RSP statewide radio network. Not all games will be carried by affiliates. Check local listings.

INTERNET arkansasrazorbacks.com and ESPN3

Sports, Pages 13 on 03/24/2014

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