Sweeps are hard to come by in SEC baseball. Alabama showed Arkansas exactly that Saturday night as the Crimson Tide beat Arkansas, 7-1, in Game 2 of the teams’ three-game series down in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama entered the game in last in the SEC West. Arkansas (21-6, 6-2) entered in first. But not a thing went right for the Razorbacks who can still win the series with a victory Sunday.
The bad news for Diamond Hogs started with Trevor Stephan. Stephan had been nothing short of remarkable every other start this year, but Alabama tagged him for four runs on four hits on just 28 pitches. Stephan was chased before the second inning even finished. Alabama took a 4-1 lead by the time the inning had finished. Jaxon Williams’ RBI single in the top half actually started the scoring.
Williams’ knock was the only damage the Razorbacks could manage against Alabama starter Dylan Duarte. The left-handed soft-tosser just kept visiting hitters off-balance. He reached 87 miles-per-hour on the radar gun just once. His trick was working in and out, backward. He started hitters off with breaking balls and offspeed pitches with regularity. Arkansas never figured him out.
In the meantime, Alabama (13-14, 2-6) tacked on another three runs in the fifth off Stephan’s replacement, Kevin Kopps.
Duarte went 8 1/3 innings before giving way. He gave up the one run on six Arkansas hits. Stephan’s final line was 1 1/3 innings, four hits, a walk, four runs and zero strikeouts.
Arkansas is still tied for first in the West after Auburn fell to South Carolina on Saturday, as well. The series finale is at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Grading the Hogs
A night after getting 17 hits, Arkansas came up with just six against Duarte and Alabama. They didn’t get a single walk until there were two outs in the ninth, either. Just one of those things every so often
The normally solid Stephan (2.02 ERA, 60 strikeouts, 9 walks in 35 2/3 innings entering) couldn’t locate his fastball from the word go. Kopps was great in relief until he ran out of gas in the fifth. All together, Diamond Hogs pitchers gave up a reasonable nine hits, but they were hard and timely.
The Big Stick + Arm
Arm: Jake Reindl
Saturday was Reindl’s best game in an Arkansas uniform. He worked 2 2/3 innings after coming in for Kopps and didn’t allow a single baserunner. Reindl also struck out five.
Stick: Grant Koch
Arkansas’ catcher was the only hitter to get more than one hit. He went 2 for 4 and scored the Razorbacks’ only run.
What’s next for Arkansas?
The series finale is Sunday at 3 p.m. Arkansas then hosts Grand Canyon on Tuesday and Wednesday back at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.