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Big third inning lifts Razorbacks past Alabama

By Matt Jones

This article was published March 17, 2012 at 6:55 p.m.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/WILLIAM MOORE -- Arkansas outfielder Derrick Bleeker is greeted at the duggout by teammates (from left) Dominic Ficociello, Brandon Moore and Colby Suggs after scoring a run against Alabama Saturday, March 17, 2012 at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

Dave Van Horn - Alabama Game 2 Postgame

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn recaps the Razorbacks' 8-4 win over Alabama on Saturday at Baum Stadium...

— Arkansas used a five-run third inning to give its pitchers plenty of cushion and the No. 4 Razorbacks beat Alabama 8-4 on Saturday at Baum Stadium.

Derrick Bleeker and Matt Vinson had consecutive two-run doubles in the third to give Arkansas a 7-1 lead. The Razorbacks (18-2, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) had scored one run in each of the first two innings and earlier in the third on a Jacob Morris bases-loaded walk.

"We wanted to get a little confidence and score some runs," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Yesterday we couldn't get the big hit or do anything. For us to get big hits like Bleeker and Vinson back-to-back, it gave us four runs on two pitches.

"We hadn't put together an inning like that in a while, so it was good to see."

The early runs gave starter Ryne Stanek plenty of run support as the sophomore right-hander improved to 5-0 this season. Stanek pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits, while striking out four.

"I thought Stanek was real good for four innings," Van Horn said. "In the fifth he kind of lost command of his breaking ball and got through it. In the sixth he lost control of the fastball and couldn't throw the ball where he wanted to.

"He was tired and it was time to get him out of there."

Brandon Moore earned his second save by pitching 3 1/3 innings of relief, allowing runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Moore got help from his defense to avoid further trouble, as Arkansas turned double plays in each of the final two innings.

The Razorbacks added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on Matt Reynolds' sacrifice fly to score Joe Serrano from third base and give Arkansas an 8-3 lead. Bo Bigham was thrown out at the plate on a rundown during the same play after the Razorbacks had loaded the bases with one out.

Both teams stranded eight runners on Saturday.

"We don't feel we're playing to the best of our ability," said first baseman Dominic Ficociello, who finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored. "We're just glad their not losses."

Arkansas chased Alabama starting pitcher Taylor Guilbeau in the third inning. The freshman left-hander allowed six runs on six hits through 2 1/3 innings.

Cary Baxter replaced Guilbeau in the third, allowing the doubles to Bleeker and Vinson in his first two at-bats. Bleeker, the right fielder, finished the game with two doubles and two runs scored.

"Hitting behind Jacob Morris today, I felt they would throw us mostly the same," Bleeker said. "They've thrown us the same style pitching a lot when we've been in that order. I went off his at-bat and knew what to attack."

Alabama (8-11, 0-2) pulled within 2-1 on Taylor Dugas' third inning RBI double, but could get no closer. Dugas, who entered the series batting .350 this season, is only 2-for-10 in the two games against the Razorbacks.

The two teams will meet in the series finale on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Junior left-hander Randall Fant (1-1, 4.40 ERA) will start on the mound for Arkansas, while Alabama will start junior right-hander Trey Pilkington (0-1, 5.91).


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