Alabama blasts Arkansas, 10-0, to even series

By: Clay Henry
Published: Saturday, March 23, 2019
Arkansas infielder Casey Martin throws to first for an out against Texas during an NCAA college baseball game Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in Austin, Texas. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Arkansas infielder Casey Martin throws to first for an out against Texas during an NCAA college baseball game Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in Austin, Texas. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Alabama 10, Arkansas 0, Final

Alabama put away Arkansas with six runs in the sixth inning and coasted to a 10-0 SEC baseball victory Saturday at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

The Crimson Tide bounced back from a 12-3 shellacking of the No. 9 Razorbacks on Friday night. They knocked out Arkansas starter Connor Noland with three runs in the second, then poured it on against three bullpen stalwarts in the sixth inning. Kole Ramage, Patrick Wicklander and Zebulon Vermillion did not retire any of the first eight batters in the sixth. The Tide had five hits and three walks to break the game open.

Keith Holcombe hit a leadoff homer off Noland in the second inning. Noland (0-1) allowed two more singles and two walks before leaving down, 3-0.

Three Alabama pitchers blanked the Hogs on four hits to set up the rubber match on Sunday. Arkansas is 19-4, 4-1 in the SEC. Alabama is 19-5, 2-3. Game time for the third game is 1 p.m.

Alabama starter Brock Love (3-0) got his first SEC victory. He's a fourth-year junior who battled injuries in his first three seasons. He allowed just two weak hits in 5 1/3 innings. Lefty Brock Guffey added 2 2/3 scoreless frames. Connor Shamblin allowed a leadoff walk in the ninth, then set down the next three Hogs to preserve the shutout.

Alabama 10, Arkansas 0, End 8th Inning

Casey Martin stroked a two-out single to left center, the first hard hit ball by the Hogs on the day. That's their fourth hit. Heston Kjerstad fanned for the third out, the second time reliever Brock Duffey got him swinging.

As for the Arkansas offense, earlier in the game, Christian Franklin had a sinking liner to short left that went for a double when it bounced off the fielder's glove. Jacob Nesbit had a swinging bunt to third and Dominic Fletcher had a pop fall near the line in shallow right.

Collin Taylor relieved, the sixth Arkansas pitcher. He gave up a ground single to right to Joe Breaux. Morgan McCullough walked and both moved up on a wild pitch. Keith Holcombe's sacrifice fly plated Robinson.

Alabama 9, Arkansas 0, End 7th Inning

The first two reached in the seventh for the Hogs. Dominic Fletcher's pop dropped in short right field and shortstop Kolby Robinson dropped and bobbled a double play grounder at short for an error. A routine fly out and Jack Kenley's double play grounder to second ended the threat. The Hogs have three hits, but none were hit hard.

Freshman Liam Henry, the fourth Arkansas pitcher of the day, walked the leadoff batter. A wild pitch and a fly out to center moved the runner to third. A fly out to third retired the side.

Alabama 9, Arkansas 0, End 6th Inning

The Crimson Tide pulled starter Brock Love after one batter in the sixth. After he got Casey Martin for the third time, lefty Brock Guffey relieved and fanned Heston Kjerstad and Trevor Ezell bounced out to shortstop. Love, fourth-year junior righthander, is in line for his first SEC victory. He was often injured in his first two seasons at Alabama. He redshirted his second season because of surgery.

The Crimson Tide broke it open with six runs in the bottom of the sixth. The first eight batters reached base, five with hits. Zebulon Vermillion, the third Arkansas pitcher of the inning, gave up two RBI singles before retiring the final three batters he faced.

Tyler Gentry singled to lead off the sixth. Keith Holcombe followed with a double to left. Christian Franklin's throw to third trying for Gentry was high and almost to home plate. Brett Auerbach's single plated Gentry. That ended Kole Ramage's day. He had retired 10 in a row before giving up three straight hits to open the sixth. Patrick Wicklander walked three straight batters, two with the bases loaded to make it 6-0. Wicklander's cut fast ball was judged just off the outside corner on several near misses. Zebulon Vermillion enters with the bases loaded and no outs. He gave up RBI singles to Joe Breaux and Kolby Robinson to make it 8-0. Morgan McCullough's liner to center was the first out of the inning, but it went for a sacrifice fly to plate Kobe Morris. It's 9-0.

Alabama 3, Arkansas 0, End 5th Inning

Arkansas lost a runner on the base paths for the second straight inning as Alabama pitcher Brock Love faced the minimum. Jacob Nesbit's swinging bunt to third was the second hit of the game for the Hogs. Nesbit was the third out of the inning when he tried to take second on a pitch in the dirt that bounced away from catcher Brett Auerbach. Jack Kenley popped out to center and Christian Franklin's smoked liner was an out to center.

Reliever Kole Ramage has done his job. He's retired all 10 Alabama hitters faced after taking over for Connor Noland in the second inning with the Hogs down 3-0. He got two bouncers and a fly to center to get the Tide 1-2-3 in the 5th.

Alabama 3, Arkansas 0, End 4th Inning

Trevor Ezell and Casey Opitz walked with one out, but the Hogs came up empty when Opitz was picked off on first and Trey Harris bounced out to second base.

The Crimson Tide went down 1-2-3. The first out came on Trevor Ezell's swipe tag on Jacob Nesbit's third high throw. The play was reviewed and called out after the umpire on the field had ruled safe.

Alabama 3, Arkansas 0, End 3rd Inning

Crimson Tide starting pitcher Brock Love is cruising. He set the Hogs down 1-2-3 in the third inning. Christian Franklin was out when first baseman Drew Williamson had to make a swipe tag on a wide throw from the shortstop. Casey Martin was out front on a weak liner to second. Heston Kjerstad lined to deep center. The Hogs have just one hit, a sinking liner by Trey Harris in the second inning.

Kole Ramage got some help from his defense in the bottom of the third. First baseman Trevor Ezell made a sweep tag on Jacob Nesbit's second bad throw from third base. Christian Franklin made a diving catch in left field for the second out. Nesbit snared a liner for the third out of the inning as the Tide went 1-2-3.

Alabama 3, Arkansas 0, End 2nd Inning

The Hogs stranded two when Jacob Nesbit lined out to left field. Trey Harris doubled with two outs, a soft liner that left fielder Keith Holcombe charged but could not field. Harris went to second when the ball bounced under Holcombe's glove. Jack Kenley walked. The left fielder had to dash to his left for Nesbit's liner.

Alabama took the lead for the first time in the series with a three-run inning. It started with a leadoff homer by Keith Holcombe. He powered the high fly to left, his opposite field. Drew Williamson worked a walk after falling behind 1-2 against Connor Noland. Kobe Morris singled and Joe Breaux walked to load the bases with two outs. Noland has struggled to land his breaking pitch in the strike zone. Kolby Roberson's hard shot took a high bounce in front of Jacob Nesbit for a two-run single. That ended Noland's day after 41 pitches. Kole Ramage takes the mound. Morgan McCullough fanned on a 3-2 count to end the inning.

Arkansas 0, Alabama 0, End 1st Inning

The Razorbacks went quietly in the first. Casey Martin chased the first pitch and lifted a pop the first baseman snared in front of the Arkansas dugout. Heston Kjerstad sliced a drive to the wall in left field for a long out.

Connor Noland worked around a one-out error. Jacob Nesbitt threw wide of first, pulling Trevor Ezell off the bag on Kolby Roberson's grounder to third. Robinson reached second on a ground out, but the Tide wasted that runner in scoring position with a pop out to third.

Pre-Game

Arkansas won the opener of the series, 12-3, Friday night. Isaiah Campbell (5-0) pitched seven scoreless innings for the Razorbacks. The Hogs enter with a 19-3 overall record, 4-0 in SEC games. Alabama is 18-5 and 1-3.

The Hogs will give true freshman Connor Noland (0-0, 3.80) his sixth start. He's pitched 21.1 innings with 17 strikeouts against 6 walks.

Alabama starts Brock Love (2-0, 2.50) on the mound at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. Love has started four games and pitched 18 innings. He has 28 strikeouts against 7 walks.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn has inserted Trey Harris at designated hitter.

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