It looked like the University of Alabama baseball team might have caught Arkansas starter Blaine Knight off his game. Alabama got two hits and a run off the Arkansas ace to start the game in the bottom of the first on Friday.
He wouldn’t let them get anything like that again.
Knight sat down the next 19 Alabama (12-14, 1-6 SEC) batters. He allowed just one more hit the rest of the way to deal Alabama a 7-1 loss at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
“Tonight, after the first inning, we didn’t put anything together,” head coach Greg Goff said. “I thought he kind of settled in after that. That’s just part of being in this league. That’s why you do situational hitting and things like that, but when you don’t get guys on base, it’s hard to do anything.”
Arkansas (21-5, 6-1 SEC) retook the lead on a two-run homer in the top of the third inning and continued to apply pressure at the plate and on the mound.
Arkansas scored two more runs in the fourth inning; one on a passed ball and another on a single. They scored again in the fifth, eighth and ninth innings to keep Alabama under duress. Knight gave up a double to lead off the top of the eighth, but that was the only other hit he allowed.
He retired 22 of 23 Crimson Tide hitters he faced. Knight pitched eight innings on 95 pitches with seven strikeouts and no walks. The sophomore righty came into the night with 41 strikeouts and two walks on the season, and managed to improve that ratio on Friday.
“I saw what I’ve been seeing on video for the last three or four days: A guy that can really pitch, can mix his pitches up, competes at a high level,” Goff said. “Just in total command.”
Alabama starter Jake Walters looked strong early, but Arkansas found success against him on its second and third times through the order. Left fielder Luke Bonfield went 3-5 with three RBIs on the night, including the two-run homer in the third inning.
Arkansas finished with 17 hits and stranded 14 runners on the night. Alabama also had two errors, while the Razorbacks played clean in the field.
“Tonight, they just beat us,” Goff said.
ACA product Deacon Medders came in for Walters with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the fifth inning. He got a strikeout and a ground ball to pull Alabama out of the inning without any extra damage.
“I was just really, really pleased with him,” Goff said. “We’ve got to have more guys step up. We have some injuries. Some guys that haven’t thrown a bunch are going to have to step up and make some big pitches. He kept it right there for us. I thought that was all you could ask for, especially from a freshman like him.”
Second baseman Cobie Vance and designated hitter Tanner DeVinny each got a double. Hunter Alexander singled in the first to drive in Vance. After that, no Alabama player got past second base.
“Hat’s off to him. He pitched his tail off,” DeVinny said. “He was able to locate to where he wanted to go and catch us off-balance. We as an offense have to go back tomorrow, put this one behind us and say ‘Look, it’s a new day.’ He just beat us.”