FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas baseball fans were treated to a historic barrage of hits Friday night, but it was one they’d probably rather forget.
Alabama pounded out 22 hits and cruised to a 12-1 win over the Razorbacks in the series opener at Baum-Walker Stadium, emphatically snapping their 15-game home winning streak in the process.
Not only was that a season high for hits by the Crimson Tide and for hits allowed by Arkansas, but it was the most the Razorbacks have given up in a single game during the Dave Van Horn era. Since he took over in 2003, they had allowed 21 hits twice — to Texas in 2005 and to LSU in 2015.
“I think it was just our night,” Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohannon said. “It was one of those nights where we just hit a lot of balls hard and everything that we hit found a hole.”
The result was a total and complete beatdown by Alabama, which has now handed Arkansas four of its six SEC losses by double digits since 2019. Considering the two teams have been on opposite ends of the SEC West standings over that span, it’s an unusual trend.
However, the Crimson Tide have been in and out of the top-25 rankings this season and were very close to winning each of their first two SEC series.
They proved to be more than formidable Friday night, as they went 22 for 48 (.458) as a team. All nine starters — plus a pinch hitter — had a hit, with eight of them notching multiple hits, and eight different Crimson Tide players had at least one RBI.
“Their offense just got after our pitching tonight and we didn’t have an answer,” Van Horn said.
After winning its first four SEC games, Arkansas now finds itself with a three-game conference losing streak in the regular season for the first time since 2019. That year, the Razorbacks lost their final two games against Ole Miss and then dropped the opening game of their series at Auburn.
Granted, a 10-run loss to Little Rock was mixed in between the two series, but those three losses were by a combined nine runs. The current skid has seen Arkansas outscored 38-8.
“We’ve got to figure it out,” Van Horn said. “You could point at pitching, but you could also point at hitting as well. We haven’t driven in any runs in league play. We’re not hitting very well in league play the last three games. So that’s a lot of pressure on pitchers when you’re not scoring and vice versa. The message is we get to try again tomorrow.”
Bats Go Quiet
As their coach mentioned, the Razorbacks didn’t do much to help themselves offensively. They mustered only three hits and struck out 12 times against Alabama.
Right-hander Ben Hess got things started by limiting Arkansas to only two hits in four innings before reaching his pitch count. One of those hits was a home run by Tavian Josenberger, giving the Razorbacks their only run of the day.
“He did a phenomenal job just really keeping us off-balance,” right fielder Jace Bohrofen said. “He likes his fastball a lot, and that’s what we were supposed to hit. He threw it, and we missed it early in counts, and then he would throw a breaking ball or off-speed, we would either spit or foul it off. Then he would come back with a fastball, and we’d chase up and get ourselves.”
Alabama baseball coach Brad Bohannon said Hess wasn’t quite as sharp as he has been, but he did an excellent job of working the edges of the zone and not leaving anything too much over the plate.
The Crimson Tide’s reliever was even better. Hagan Banks, another right-hander, mowed down Arkansas lineup in order for four innings. He retired the 12 batters with five strikeouts and on an efficient 48 pitches.
“Banksy was just awesome — his tempo and he was peppering in the strikes,” Bohannon said. “He gets the ball and like 10 seconds later and it is an 0-2 count. It is a great model for the rest of our kids to smother the opponent with strikes.”
At one point, Alabama pitchers had retired 15 straight batters — and it would have been 18 straight to end the game, but an error allowed the leadoff man to reach in the ninth.
The Razorbacks went 3 for 30 (.100) as a team and are now hitting just .223 in SEC play. That includes a .169 average during their current three-game SEC losing streak.
Struggles for Hunter Hollan
Coming off arguably his best outing of the season, in which he kept LSU’s vaunted offense from scoring for 5 1/3 innings, Hunter Hollan turned in a clunker back in the friendly confines of Baum-Walker Stadium.
The left-hander doubled his season earned runs total by giving up seven on 10 hits in just four innings against Alabama. Three of those hits were home runs and another two were doubles.
“I don’t know where those pitches were but they seemed to be on him pretty good, whether it was a fastball or a cutter,” Van Horn said. “Even some other type off-speed pitches, when he made a mistake they hit him hard. It seemed like they had a runners on two pitches in every inning.”
A two-out error by third baseman Caleb Cali prevented Hollan from having a perfect first inning, but it wasn’t until the second that things started to unravel.
Dominic Tamez’s RBI single immediately followed a leadoff double by Caden Rose to start the scoring and Hollan had to strike out Andrew Pinckney to strand the bases loaded.
After his teammates tied it up in the bottom of the third, Hollan promptly lost the lead by giving up a solo home run to Colby Shelton, whose team-leading 12th homer was a 403-foot blast off the bottom of the scoreboard in right field.
Two batters later, Mac Guscette launched a two-run home run into the Hog Pen and, in the fifth, Drew Williamson tacked on a two-run homer of his own.
The performance caused Hollan’s ERA to jump from 1.97 to 3.50.
Up Next for Arkansas Baseball
The Razorbacks will try to even the series against Alabama with a win in Game 2, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT Saturday and will be streamed on SEC Network-Plus.
Right-hander Will McEntire (5.23 ERA, 31 IP) will start for Arkansas, with the Crimson Tide countering with right-hander Luke Holman (2.25 ERA, 24 IP).
Other Arkansas Baseball Tidbits
- For the second weekend in a row, catcher Parker Rowland picked off a runner by throwing behind them. After doing it to LSU’s Brayden Jobert last Friday, he did it to Alabama’s Ed Johnson — and this time it was at second base.
- Tavian Josenberger’s third-inning home run came on a 3-2 pitch and was absolutely smoked over the right field wall. It was a true line drive, as it left the bat with just a 21.4-degree launch angle to go with its 108 mph exit velocity.
- Right-hander Austin Ledbetter wasn’t particularly effective, allowing three earned runs on nine hits, but he did eat up 3 2/3 innings for the Razorbacks. “He went out there and saved our bullpen a little bit and had an inning or two when it went pretty good, but had a couple where he had to fight it, gave up some runs,” Van Horn said. “But just glad to see him go out there and really get after the strike zone for us.”
- Jared Wegner went hitless for just the third time this season, finishing 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. That snaps his 18-game on-base streak.
- Kendall Diggs saw his 13-game hitting streak come to an end with an 0 for 3 performance, but he did walk once to extend his on-base streak to 17 games.
- Former Arkansas catcher Dominic Tamez is still at Alabama and, despite hitting only .269, was the Crimson Tide’s designated hitter. He went 2 for 6 on Friday and is now 5 for 19 with five walks in five career games against his old team.
Arkansas vs Alabama Postgame Interviews
Arkansas vs Alabama Box Score (Game 1)
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