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    Alabama freshman pitcher Adams hands No. 1 Arkansas first series loss

    By Dudley E. Dawson,



    Alabama freshman pitcher Zane Adams took some red kryptonite to the mound with him on Sunday afternoon in Tuscaloosa.

    Adams pitched eight scoreless innings while allowing just four hits and Bryce Eblin’s two-run homer broke open a tight game in the seventh as Crimson Tide downed No. 1 Arkansas 5-0 at Thomas-Sewell Stadium, aka “The Joe.”

    Adams (3-2) walked one and fanned five while throwing 97 pitches, 63 for strikes before Alabama closer Alton Davis II handled the ninth.

    “It felt like nothing could go wrong,” Adams said. “I wasn’t thinking about where I was throwing the ball, I wasn’t thinking about anything, I was just letting it go and it was going where it needed to go. I just kind of got in a groove.”

    The win by the Crimson Tide (24-12, 6-9) handed the Razorbacks (30-5, 12-3) their first series loss of the season as Alabama won 4-3 in 10 innings on Saturday after Arkansas took a 5-3 decision on Friday.

    It was also the first time Arkansas, whose 12 SEC wins in its first 15 league games, is only the third time that has happened along with 1999 and 2010, had been held scoreless in two years.

    “He threw a lot of strikes and kept some guys off balance,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “ We let some good pitches go by and swung at bad pitches. Got ourselves out a lot. But give him credit. He was ahead in the count, and we didn’t get him early.

    “We hit some balls hard early and they went at people. I think our hitters got a little frustrated, pressing a little bit. He walked one hitter, (Wehiwa) Aloy, and then (Alton) Davis walked Aloy again in the ninth. But they didn’t give us anything, and we didn’t hit very well obviously.”

    The loss combined with No. 3 Texas A&M’s sweep of visiting Vanderbilt this weekend cut the Razorbacks’ SEC Western Division lead over the Aggies (32-4, 11-4) to one game.

    Those two teams close the regular season against one another in College Station on May 16-18 while Alabama hosts Texas A&M next weekend.

    Alabama head coach Rob Vaughn was obviously pleased with Adams’ effort.

    “I say it every day – it starts with those guys on the mound,” Vaughn said. “What an effort Zane Adams gave us…He had good stuff and mixed pitches. I think one free pass on the day. What an effort from the young pup and then we obviously turned it over to AD.”

    Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the third on Ian Petrutz’s two-out RBI single off Arkansas starter Brad Tygart (3-1), who went five innings while allowing the lone run, fanning three, walking two and hitting a batter.

    Tygart threw 87 pitches, 54 for strikes and now has a 2.59 ERA.

    “I thought he battled, competed,” Van Horn said. “Really did not have his breaking ball for the first three innings. We were a little concerned, because he couldn’t land it. Maybe one time in three innings.

    “Then the last couple of innings he started throwing a little more around the plate, got a strikeout or two with it. He was able to get us through five just down a run. Hey, that’s all you can ask. He did his job.”

    Jared Sprague-Lott and Ben McLaughlin both went 2 of 4 for the four Razorback hits with both involved in a key play in the too of the sixth.

    Sprague-Lott doubled with two outs, but then did not score on McLaughlin’s single that should have tied it 1-1. Aloy flied out to center field to end the inning.

    “You’ve just got to think the play out a little bit before the pitch,” Van Horn said. “The ball was hit to the left of the third baseman from a left-handed hitter, so it was kind of sliced on the ground. He hesitated because he thought he [third baseman] was going to field it and he was going to run into an out.

    “But the worst thing that could happen is you run into an out. If he fields it, he’s going to throw him out at first anyway. The ball was to the fielder’s left. Just run, if he fields it, see what happens. But he had no chance to score really when he stopped and then tried to start again. Yeah, that was a little mistake there in my opinion.”

    Razorback relief pitcher Koty Frank tossed an uneventful sixth inning, but he hit Evan Sleight leading off the bottom of the seventh and gave up Eblin’s fifth homer of the season an out later.

    Will McEntire them escaped a two-on, one-out jam by fanning Justin LeBron and gettomg Will Hodo to pop out.

    But the Crimson Tide added two more runs in eighth off McEntire on Sleight’s sacrifice fly and TJ McCants reaching via a bunt single, taking second on a fly out, stealing third and coming home when the throw got away.

    Vaughn was happy to see those insurance runs, knowing that his team missed the opportunity when Arkansas left fielder Peyton Holt made a running and doubled a runner off.

    “That’s why that team came in here number one in the country,” Vaughn said. “Because they pitch it at an extremely high level. They play elite-level defense. They take runs off the board with their defense.

    “We just kept coming and didn’t let it fluster us and we just kept having good at bats. Bryce Eblin’s swing was a big one to put us up three. Those two runs in the eighth were huge. It lets you breath a little bit and let you get AD in the game with a little bit of a cushion.”

    Holt, normally an infielder, started his second game in left field in as many days.

    “I thought he played great the two games he played in,” Van Horn said. “His first at-bat he hit a line drive to center, right center. When it left the bat, we thought it was gong to drop. There were two outs and a runner on second. McCants ran in and made a nice catch.

    “He just missed another ball when he flew out to left pretty deep. Or center, left center. I liked his approach at the plate. It was really good to see as we’re trying to figure out what to do over there. Right now I’d say it’s his spot.”

    Petrutz, McCants, Eblin and Kade Snell all had two hits each of Alabama’s 10.

    “I thought our hitters were good all day,” Vaughn said. “I know there wasn’t a lot of runs on the board there, but there were some loud outs early. We were fast, we were tough. I was just really proud of those guys. Really proud of them.”

    Arkansas will return to action Tuesday night at 7 when it host Texas Tech with two teams also playing Wednesday at 4 p.m.

    The Tuesday night game will be televised by ESPN2 with Karl Ravech (play-by-play) and Kyle Peterson (analyst) on the call while Wednesday’s game will be carried by the SEC Network.

    Photo courtesy of Alabama baseball

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