After hot start, Alabama baseball loses gut-wrenching series to Arkansas

Tzali Nislick, Staff Reporter

If you told the Alabama baseball team that it would win a game against the No. 6 Arkansas Razorbacks (23-5) in Fayetteville, Arkansas, it would probably be content, despite losing the rest of the series. Although Alabama won the first game on Friday, March 31, the Crimson Tide (21-8) dropped the final two games of the weekend in gut-wrenching fashion to lose a series it could have easily won.  

Friday night was perhaps the most impressive showing of the season for Alabama, especially considering that the win came against southpaw Hunter Hollan, one of the most dominant arms in the SEC who owned a sub-2.00 ERA and perfect 4-0 record coming into the weekend. The Crimson Tide pummeled the Razorbacks 12-1 in a full-on hog roast, mashing four home runs and out-hitting Arkansas 22-3. Every starter recorded a hit and seven of the nine tallied at least one RBI.  

“It was just our night. It was one of those nights where we hit a lot of balls hard, everything that we hit found a hole and we pitched great,” Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon said. 

It appeared Saturday’s game was trending in that direction as well, but Alabama blew an early 4-0 lead after the bullpen couldn’t help sophomore starter Luke Holman out of a jam in the sixth inning.  

The Crimson Tide took the lead the following half-inning on an Andrew Pinckney home run, but stranded three baserunners on the loaded bases, failing to add more offense.  

After trading runs back and forth, stranding two more in scoring position in a tied game and allowing three to score in the bottom of the eighth, Alabama lost 9-6 and the Razorbacks completed the comeback.   

“We’re still making way too many mistakes for an older team at this point in the year. When you play a really good team like Arkansas at their place, you have to play your A-game. They did a good job of taking advantage of our mistakes late,” Bohannon said. 

Onto the Sunday rubber match. Holding a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning, Bohannon turned in relief to last year’s ace, Garrett McMillan, who made his highly anticipated first appearance of the season after missing the first 28 games of the year due to injury.  

The senior right-hander showed his rust, quickly serving up a two-run bomb to give Arkansas its first lead of the day. He was also credited with another earned run in the sixth inning, which proved to be the difference in a 5-4 loss.  

“This was a tough one. We had a chance to win a signature series on the road against a top-10 opponent. We just needed to make one more big pitch or get one more big hit,” Bohannon said. “We did a lot of really good things this weekend, competed really, really well. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t quite enough to win a series.”  

Not quite enough. That was the theme of the last two games for Alabama, which left plenty on the table and much to be desired. The lineup seemed to get back on track in Fayetteville — at least in the first two games — but hit just one for 12 with runners on base and an uninspiring one for five with runners in scoring position in the series finale.  

On the bright side, the Crimson Tide has shown it is capable of hanging with some of the top teams in the country. The offense has improved in the last week and McMillan is back. Nevertheless, Alabama still finds itself 3-6 in conference play and needs to show real signs of progress. Losing close games against quality opponents won’t cut it for much longer.  

Next up for Alabama is a matchup against Troy University on Tuesday, April 4. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.  

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]