Arkansas tested Alabama’s Sam Finnerty in the first inning. The Razorbacks’ No. 2 hitter, right fielder Heston Kjerstad, worked a 10-pitch at bat in the top of the inning and capped it with a solo home run.
Then the Razorbacks trampled Alabama’s (18-5, 1-3 SEC) Friday pitcher in the second inning, hanging six runs (five earned) on Finnerty. He gave up an eighth run in the third inning, then left the game after the fourth. No. 7 Arkansas (19-3, 4-0 SEC) would go on to win 12-3.
“Really tough night for us. The game got away from us there in the second inning,” coach Brad Bohannon said. “To Arkansas’ credit, they put a lot of good swings. Fin wasn’t sharp. He’s been great every time this year, and it just wasn’t his night. A lot of hard contact for Arkansas. Just a tough night for us. The whole key is that we don’t bring it to the park tomorrow.”
Reliever Casey Cobb came on for Finnerty and threw four innings, giving up a two-run homer in the top of the eighth for Arkansas to push the lead to 10-0. Freshman Dylan Smith pitched the ninth, giving up two runs.
“Casey did a great job of settling the game,” Bohannon said. “That’s what I told the kids, that was a real positive that Casey Cobb commanded his fastball, threw some good changeups and allowed us to save a lot of good pitching for the next two days and to have a chance to win the series.”
Arkansas starter Isaiah Campbell cruised for most of the night, throwing seven shutout innings. He allowed five hits and one walk, striking out seven. Alabama didn’t score until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Kolby Robinson reached base on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to score first, followed by two RBIs on a double from Johnny Hawk.
Alabama’s offense had little opportunity to come back, but its best chance came in the fifth. The Crimson Tide had two hits and a walk to load the bases with two outs and bring the top of the order to the plate. Center fielder Joe Breaux hit a line drive to left, but Arkansas outfielder Christian Franklin made the catch on the move to end the inning.
Alabama had runners on second and third again in the seventh but couldn’t capitalize. Arkansas retired the side in the seventh and eighth before the offense found some life late in the ninth.
Senior outfielder Keith Holcombe was pulled in the top of the seventh inning after going 0-3 with two strikeouts. He had reached base in 36 straight games dating back to the 2018 season.
“We had a bad night,” Bohannon said. “Nobody is excited about it.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.