FAYETTEVILLE — For the first time this season, it all comes down to a Sunday rubber match. The Arkansas vs Alabama series will be decided in Game 3 after the teams split the first two matchups.
The Crimson Tide cruised to a 12-1 win on Friday, but the Razorbacks bounced back with a wild 9-6 victory Saturday. Now they will play at 2 p.m. CT Sunday in a game that will be nationally televised on the SEC Network.
As always, Best of Arkansas Sports is at Baum-Walker Stadium and will be providing updates from the Arkansas vs Alabama finale…
LIVE UPDATES — Arkansas vs Alabama
This will be freshman Ben Bybee’s fifth start of the season, but his first on the weekend. He has a 3.45 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings this season. It will be just his second career SEC appearance. He threw two scoreless innings of relief against LSU last weekend.
Alabama is starting junior left-hander Grayson Hitt, who has a 3.77 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .202 against him. He’s been even better in SEC play, with a 2.31 ERA in 11 2/3 innings.
Arkansas has finally made a switch at shortstop, starting Harold Coll in place of John Bolton.
As the two coaches and umpires converged at home plate to exchange lineups and do their pregame meeting, Arkansas fans greeted Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon with a Hog Call.
T-1st: Alabama 2, Arkansas 0
Bybee made quick work of the first two batters he faced, inducing a fly out to right from Johnson and a groundout to first from Williamson. With two outs, though, Jarvis hit a ball the other way for a double. Pinckney followed with a full-count walk and then Bybee walked Hamiter on four pitches. That loaded the bases and prompted a mound visit from Matt Hobbs.
Tamez, the former Arkansas player, delivered for Alabama, hitting a single up the middle to drive in two runs. A four-pitch walk to Shelton loads the bases again and ends the day for Bybee, who lasted just 2/3 of an inning. The new pitcher for Arkansas is right-hander Cody Adcock, who threw six pitches and retired the only batter he faced Saturday. He got out of the jam with no further damage, getting Guscette to fly out to left.
B-1st: Alabama 2, Arkansas 2
It’s just the bottom of the first and we already have some excitement at Baum-Walker Stadium. Josenberger appeared to reach on a leadoff infield single and then move to second when the third baseman’s throw got by the first baseman. However, the home plate umpire called it foul. Then he ripped a line drive that landed near the line in left for what could have been a double, but the third base umpire called it foul – and the call was confirmed after a challenge by Van Horn. Instead, Josenberger ended up poking a single the other way into right for a true leadoff single. An argument could be made that he had three hits in the span of four pitches in a single at bat.
Stovall also nearly had a double into the right field corner, but it hooked foul. Instead, he poked a single the other way. Wegner followed with a rocket – 114 mph exit velocity – that just got by the diving shortstop for an RBI single. Bohrofen couldn’t keep it going, though, as he grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
That moved Stovall to third and he came home on a wild pitch to tie it up at 2-2. It looked like that would be it because Cali hit a grounder to third, but once again, his throw got by the first baseman. This time it’s a straight-up E5 that puts Cali on second. Diggs drew a walk, but Coll grounded out to third on one pitch to end the inning. It was a 32-pitch inning for Hitt.
T-2nd: Alabama 2, Arkansas 2
Seidl reached on an infield single to start the second inning. Coll did a good job of getting to the grounder in the 5-6 hole and made an accurate throw, but Seidl was just too fast. Johnson followed with a line drive right to Cali at third for the first out. Williamson tried to check his swing, but went through and struck out. On the pitch, Seidl stole second. Van Horn wanted interference called on the batter, but it wasn’t.
Adcock then walked Jarvis on four pitches to put runners on first and second. That was it for the Tide, though, as Pinckney went down swinging. Adcock has thrown 19 pitches through 1 1/3 innings today.
B-2nd: Alabama 2, Arkansas 2
Slavens came up swinging in the second inning and hit a fly ball into right on the first pitch. Because of the shift, the second baseman made the catch. Rowland went down swinging in a full count and then Josenberger struck out on three pitches. It was a 10-pitch inning for Hitt after he threw 32 in the first.
T-3rd: Alabama 2, Arkansas 2
Adcock made quick work of the Crimson Tide in the third. Hamiter flied out to right, Tamez lined out to third and Shelton flied out to center. However, those outs came on balls with exit velocities of 105, 107 and 104 mph, so Alabama is squaring it up and hitting it hard. Still, it was a nine-pitch inning for Adcock, who’s up to 28 through 2 1/3 innings.
B-3rd: Alabama 2, Arkansas 2
After a first-pitch fly out to center by Stovall, Wegner put together a nice at bat and nearly had a double down the left field line, but the ball hooked just foul. Instead, he struck out on the nine pitch of the AB. Bohrofen also worked the count full and drew a two-out walk. That was it for Arkansas, though, as Cali’s 108 mph grounder was right to the shortstop, who briefly bobbled it before throwing him out at first. Hitt threw 19 pitches that inning and is now up to 61 through three innings.
T-4th: Alabama 2, Arkansas 2
Adcock fell behind 3-0 against the leadoff man, but got Guscette to fly out to center to start the fourth. He should have had back-to-back fly outs, but Bohrofen dropped the one hit by Seidl for the first error by one of Arkansas’ regular outfielders. However, the runner was erased when Rowland did another back-pick and got him in a rundown, with Stovall making the final tag to complete a 2-3-4 pickoff. That was a huge play because Johnson followed with a single. Adcock ended the inning with a strikeout of Williamson. He’s up to 48 pitches.
B-4th: Alabama 2, Arkansas 2
Diggs and Coll each worked the count full to start the fourth inning. Diggs walked, but Coll flied out to left. A wild pitch during Coll’s at bat moved Diggs to second. However, Arkansas couldn’t do anything with the RISP. After Coll flied out, Slavens popped out to short and Rowland grounded into a fielder’s choice. It was hit to the third baseman, who tagged Diggs to end the inning. Hitt is up to 79 pitches.
T-5th: Alabama 3, Arkansas 2
Jarvis got into a hitter’s count, 3-1, and then crushed a solo home run off the scoreboard. It left the bat with a 109 mph exit velocity and was estimated at 396 feet. That prompts a pitching change.
The new pitcher is right-hander Dylan Carter, who threw 30 pitches in 2 1/3 innings Saturday. Pinckney promptly hit the second pitch from Carter back up the middle with a 106 mph exit velocity. It went off his foot and he managed to recover in time to still get the out. Hamiter then grounded out to second. It should have been three straight ground outs for Carter, but Coll’s throw after making a nice play on a grounder up the middle sailed over Slavens’ head for an E6. The error didn’t hurt because Shelton grounded out to second to end the inning.
B-5th: Arkansas 4, Alabama 3
Josenberger bunts for a single on the first pitch of the fifth and that’s it for Hitt. The new pitcher for Alabama is right-hander Garrett McMillan. He got Stovall to fly out to center, but Wegner launched a two-run homer into the Hog Pen. It was a 412-foot blast that put the Razorbacks on top 4-3. Bohrofen nearly followed with a hit, but the center fielder made a great diving catch to rob him. Then Cali looked at strike three to end the inning.
T-6th: Arkansas 4, Alabama 4
Guscette went down and poked a single into left to start the sixth. Seidl followed with a slow grounder to short that looked like it may be a double play ball, but the Razorbacks only got the force at second. Seidl beat the throw at first to reach on a fielder’s choice. He then moved to second on a wild pitch and tagged up to third on Johnson’s fly out to right. That allowed him to score on a wild pitch before Williamson walked, tying the game again. That was it for Alabama, as Jarvis struck out to end the inning. Carter has thrown 36 pitches today after throwing 30 pitches yesterday.
B-6th: Arkansas 5, Alabama 4
Diggs flied out to center to start the inning, but then Arkansas got things going. Coll walked and then Slavens beat the shift with a two-strike single through the left side. Coll went first to third on the hit and the throw went to third, allowing Slavens to take second on the play. The throw actually sailed over the third baseman’s head and nearly went into the dugout, but stayed in the field of play. That prompted a pitching change.
The new pitcher for Alabama is right-hander Braylon Myers. His first pitch is lined up the middle by Rowland for an RBI single. It would have been a two-run hit, but Slavens hesitated at second to make sure it got by the shortstop. Josenberger was up next and, in an 0-2 count, was called out for a pitch clock violation, prompting a visit between Van Horn and the home plate ump. Stovall grounded out to first to end the inning.
T-7th: Arkansas 5, Alabama 4
Pinckney grounded out to third on the first pitch of the sixth inning. Hamiter gave it a ride, but Wegner caught it on the track. Tamez also grounded out sharply to third, but Cali handled the 110 mph grounder and threw to first for the final out. Carter is up to 46 pitches today and 76 pitches over the last two days.
B-7th: Arkansas 5, Alabama 4
Wegner and Bohrofen grounded out to second to start the seventh and then Cali hit a towering fly ball to right. With the wind, it had no chance of leaving the park, but it has impacted outfielders today. This time, the center fielder ended up running all the way over and catching it in front of the right fielder.
T-8th: Arkansas 5, Alabama 4
Carter is still on the mound for Arkansas. Bryce Eblin, who entered as a defensive replacement for Shelton in the fifth, grounded out to first to start the eighth. Guscette followed with a single into center and Seidl hit a slow roller to second, but once again, he was too fast for Arkansas to have much of a chance at turning the double play. The Razorbacks settled for the force at second.
Carter had Johnson down 1-2, but ended up walking him to put runners on first and second. That’s it for him. The new pitcher is freshman right-hander Gage Wood. He got Williamson to fly out to center to end the inning.
B-8th: Arkansas 5, Alabama 4
Diggs grounded out to short to start the inning, but Coll followed with an infield single to the 5-6 hole. Slavens gave it a ride, but his deep fly was caught by the left fielder on the track. Rowland got a blooper to fall in left-center, putting runners on the corners for Josenberger. It looked like he might add an insurance run, but he hit right into the shift for a ground out to end the inning.
T-9th: Arkansas 5, Alabama 4
Jarvis grounded out to second on one pitch. Pinckney looked at strike three. Hamiter grounded out to first. Wood gets the four-out save and Arkansas wins the series.
FINAL: Arkansas 5, Alabama 4
BOX SCORE – Arkansas vs Alabama
Starting Lineups — Arkansas vs Alabama (Game 3)
|Alabama Baseball||Arkansas Baseball|
|1. Ed Johnson – 2B||1. Tavian Josenberger – CF|
|2. Drew Williamson – 1B||2. Peyton Stovall – 2B|
|3. Jim Jarvis – SS||3. Jared Wegner – LF|
|4. Andrew Pinckney – CF||4. Jace Bohrofen – RF|
|5. William Hamiter – RF||5. Caleb Cali – 3B|
|6. Dominic Tamez – DH||6. Kendall Diggs – DH|
|7. Colby Shelton – 3B||7. Harold Coll – SS|
|8. Mac Guscette – C||8. Brady Slavens – 1B|
|9. Tommy Seidl – LF||9. Parker Rowland – C|
|Pitching: Jr. LHP Grayson Hitt||Pitching: Fr. RHP Ben Bybee|
Baseball Schedule This Week
Tuesday — Arkansas 16, Omaha 3 (7 innings)
Friday — Alabama 12, Arkansas 1
Saturday — Arkansas 9, Alabama 6
Sunday — vs Alabama — 2 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
Accountability Check — 2023 Arkansas Baseball Predictions
Best of Arkansas Sports managing editor Andrew Hutchinson published his week-by-week predictions for the 2023 season just before the Razorbacks opened the year at the College Baseball Showdown. Those predictions can be read in full here, but we’ll also be doing weekly “accountability checks” in this space.
Prediction: 1-0 in the midweek / 19-6 overall, 4-2 in SEC play
The Mavericks have a preseason All-American in Caleb Riedel, but Arkansas likely won’t see him because he’s a weekend starter and this is a single midweek game. They’re picked third in the seven-team Summit League — a conference traditionally dominated by Oral Roberts. This should be a relatively easy matchup compared to some of the others on Arkansas’ schedule.
Actual: 1-0 in the midweek / 21-4 overall, 4-2 in SEC play
As predicted, Tuesday was a relatively easy win. The Razorbacks scored their first six runs without an RBI hit and cruised to a seven-inning run rule. They are still a couple wins ahead of our predictions thanks to winning more than we expected during the non-conference portion of the schedule.
More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…