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    Alabama Defeats Arkansas 7-4

    2011 SEC Baseball Tournament
    Day One

    Game 1 -- #7 Alabama 7, #2 Arkansas

    Final Stats
    Alabama Quotes
    Arkansas Quotes
    Game Highlights

    Alabama Baseball Defeats No. 18 Arkansas 7-4 To Open SEC Tournament

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama used a five-run first inning and starting pitcher Nathan Kilcrease struck out a career-high 10 batters as the Crimson Tide posted a 7-4 win over the No. 18 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks in the opening game of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament on Wednesday morning from Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.

    Seventh seeded Alabama (33-24) got another great start from Kilcrease, the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week. Kilcrease (7-4) tied his season and career-high with 10 strikeouts, to keep the SEC Western Division Champion and two-seeded Razorbacks’ bats quiet. He finished the game allowing four runs (one earned) on seven hits in 8.0 innings.  Jonathan Smart pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his 10th save of the season.

    “Nathan (Kilcrease) has delivered for us time and time again, and today was no different,” UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. “It seems like every time we need one, he gives us one of his best outings. Today he had the most strikeouts he’s had in a game, and it came against an SEC opponent. I thought our team competed really hard, and in an early game, came out ready to play.”

    The Crimson Tide collected 11 hits en route to a win in the first game of the SEC Tournament, which started at 9:30 a.m. CT, for the second season in a row. Taylor Dugas, Brett Booth, Andrew Miller and Jared Reaves had two hits each for Alabama. Dugas finished 2-for-4 with a home run, a walk and two runs scored. Booth, who is hitting .407 (11-for-27) with a team high six RBI over the past seven games, was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.

    Miller had a single and a double, drove in one and scored once and Reaves had a pair of singles. Hunter Gregory was 1-for-3 with two RBI.

    Alabama posted its biggest first inning of the season, scoring five runs and chasing Arkansas starting and losing pitcher Randall Fant (3-4) before the inning ended. Fant lasted just two-thirds of an inning, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits. The Tide finished the inning with five hits that included a two RBI single by Booth, a RBI double by Miller, and an RBI bunt single by Gregory. The first run came across when Fant balked with the bases loaded.

    “We got off to a really quick start in the game with a really good first inning,” Gaspard said. “I thought the balk really energized us and got us started, then we delivered some key hits after that and took advantage of some opportunities to get off to a 5-0 lead. With Kilcrease on the mound we felt pretty good, cause we knew he would pound the strike zone and carry us the rest of the way.”

    After back-to-back one out singles by Booth and Miller in the third inning, Gregory’s sac bunt scored Booth to extend Alabama’s lead to 6-0. Arkansas got to Kilcrease in the fifth inning, scoring three unearned runs to cut the Tide’s lead in half (6-3). A single by Collin Kuhn drove in the first run and a double by James McCann pushed across two.

    Alabama got a run back in the sixth inning when Dugas hit his team-leading sixth home run of the season. Dugas blasted a 3-1 pitch over the right field fence off reliever Brandon Moore. Moore took over the Fant and finished the game for the Razorbacks, throwing 8.1 innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits with two strikeouts.

    The Razorbacks got the run back in the bottom half of the inning when a sac fly by Tim Carver pushed Matt Reynolds, who doubled to lead off the inning, across the plate to move the score to 7-4 in favor of the Tide.

    The Crimson Tide returns to play in the SEC Tournament on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. against the winner of the game between three-seed Florida and six-seed Mississippi State. Alabama will starter left-hander Adam Morgan (5-5, 3.89 ERA). 

    2011 SEC Baseball Tournament
    Game 1 – Wednesday, May 25 – 9:30 a.m.
    #2 Arkansas vs. #7 Alabama

    GAME NOTES

    •    Arkansas falls to 36-19; Alabama improves to 33-24
    •    Last time Arkansas and Alabama met in the conference tournament was in the first round of 2006. Arkansas defeated Alabama in that game 6-0.
    •    With the win, Alabama is 43-34 in the SEC Tournament. Arkansas falls to 19-29 in the conference tournament.

    Alabama -
    •    This is the seventh straight appearance in the conference tournament for the Crimson Tide.
    •    In the top of the 1st the Tide struck early. After Taylor Dugas, Jared Reaves and Austen Smith loaded the bases, a balk was called on Arkansas pitcher Randall Fant, scoring the games first run.
    •    Dugas extended his hitting streak in the first inning to six games after singling an 0-2 pitch off Fant. He has the longest hitting streak on the team currently.
    •    Alabama has now scored 51 runs in the first inning this year. The most in any inning of any game this season. When scoring in the first inning the Crimson Tide are now 18-7 this season.
    •    After a fielders choice, Brett Booth singled the first pitch from Fant up the middle scoring Smith and Brett Whitaker and giving Alabama a 3-0 lead. Those were Booth's 24th and 25th RBI's  for the season, good for fourth on the team.
    •    The huge first inning continued with a double by Andrew Miller, scoring Booth. Miller was able to advance to third after an error by Razorback right fielder Jarrod McKinney. Hunter Gregory then finished the scoring with a single, scoring Miller. The Tide led 5-0 before Fant was replaced at the pitcher position.
    •    In the Top of the 3rd, after a single by Booth and Miller, Gregory successfully executed a sacrifice bunt down the first base side to score Booth and push the score to 6-0 after three.
    •    Alabama had two sacrifice bunts on the day bringing their total to 55 for the season. Catcher Brock Bennett had the first sacrifice bunt and was his 20th sacrifice bunt of the season, good for first one the team and now ties for first in the nation.
    •    Nathan Kilcrease struck out the side in the third inning. He totaled six strikeouts after only three innings of play.
    •    Kilcrease finished the game throwing 8.0 IP and giving up four runs on seven hits with 10 strikeouts. It's the second straight game, Kilcrease has gone at least eight innings and ties his season high in strikeouts.
    •    Taylor Dugas hit the first home run of the 2011 SEC Baseball Tournament on a 3-1 pitch from Brandon Moore over the right field fence. That is his sixth homer of the year which leads the team. His home run made the score 7-3 against Arkansas after 5 and a half.

    Arkansas -
    •    This is the eighth appearance for Arkansas in the conference tournament under Dave Van Horn and third straight.
    •    Starting pitcher Randall Fant was called for a balk in the first inning. That's the sixth balk of the season for the Razorbacks and third of the year for Fant.
    •    The two hits in the game by Collin Kuhn makes him now 20-for-39 against Alabama in his career. With five homers and 11 RBI.
    •    Pitcher Randall Fant lasted only 2/3 of an inning for the Razorbacks on the mound. It was his shortest outing of the season. Final line for Fant: 2/3 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 1 HB, 0 K.
    •    Razorbacks scored their first run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning after a double by Collin Kuhn. Kyle Atkins scored on the play. That's Kuhn's 38th RBI of the year and 11th double.
    •    James McCann's 2 RBI double in the fifth, pushed the score to 6-3. He now has 31 RBIs on the year, good for second on the team.
    •    Arkansas had two errors in the game against Alabama, bringing their total to 68 for the season.
    •    A lead-off double by Matt Reynolds in the bottom of the sixth inning, allowed Arkansas to advance him over on two sacrifice flies and score the run to make it 7-4 after six. Reynolds has now score 35 runs this season.
    •    After coming in relief of Randall Fant, Arkansas reliever Brandon Moore had his longest outing of the season with 8.1 innings pitched. Giving up only two runs, six hits and throwing two strikeouts.
    •    Catcher James McCann caught Taylor Dugas stealing in the ninth inning. That's the 16th would-be base stealer McCann has thrown out this season.