Tide avoid sweep with big SEC win

Kevin Connell

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After dropping the first two games of the series, No. 22 Alabama (20-13, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) picked up its biggest win of the season on Saturday, topping No. 9 Arkansas 5-0 at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.

“I think that win does a lot for our team’s confidence moving forward, particularly after the first two games,” Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “To come out and play the way we did, I thought it was one of our better games this year.”

Senior catcher Brett Booth came up big for the Crimson Tide in one of his best performances of the year. The Tide took a 1-0 lead – its first lead of the series – off of Booth’s solo home run to left field in the second inning and never looked back.

“We knew coming in with a team with a good bullpen like this that you have to get on the board early,” Booth said. “It was big to finally get the momentum on our side this weekend.”

The Razorbacks, who began the season ranked No. 1, dominated the Tide with strong pitching and hitting in 3-1 and 6-0 wins in games one and two on Thursday and Friday. Thursday’s game was broadcasted on ESPNU.

But after recording 25 hits and allowing just eight in the first two games of the series, Arkansas managed just five and gave up 12 in Saturday’s loss.

“We threw the ball well, swung the bats early and played good defense,” Booth said. “That’s what you got to do, especially in this league. The quicker you can get started, the better.”

Sophomore right-hander Spencer Turnbull (4-1) stretched his scoreless innings streak to 29 2/3 innings in Saturday’s win for Alabama. In seven innings pitched, he allowed five hits and two walks while throwing four strikeouts. Razorbacks senior lefty Randall Fant (2-1) was credited with the loss for Arkansas. 

Turnbull said it was an important win to get in the tough SEC.

“Winning today was really huge for our team,” he said. “8-4 is really different from being 7-5 in the SEC, so I’m feeling pretty good with the record we have right now.”

Booth drove in his second run of the game in the third inning with an RBI single to center field that scored freshman center fielder Georgie Salem to build the lead to 2-0. Sophomore right fielder Ben Moore nearly scored from second on the play, but was thrown out after attempting a leaping dive at home.

Booth went 2-for-2 at the plate with two walks, two runs and two RBIs on the day. Salem went 3-for-5 in his fifth three-hit game of the season.

Senior left fielder Andrew Miller scored off a sac bunt and an error throwing to first – the first of five for Arkansas in the game – in the fifth. An RBI single through the left side from freshman second baseman Kyle Overstreet provided the second run of the inning to make it a 4-0 game.

A first and third double steal in the seventh scored Booth from third for the final run of the game.

The Tide returns to the diamond with a midweek series against Alcorn State on Tuesday and Wednesday before hitting the road to face No. 16 Ole Miss in a weekend series beginning Friday.