The Alabama Crimson Tide had a mixed bag of play over the weekend when the hosted eighth ranked Arkansas at Sewell-Thomas Stadium. The Razorbacks won on Friday night by a 12-3 score before the Tide bounced back for a 10-0 whitewashing on Saturday. With the series on the line the Hogs bounced back and dispensed of the Tide 10-2. Bama falls to 19-6 overall and 2-4 in the SEC. Arkansas improves to 20-4, 5-1 in the SEC. The Hogs are a legitimate College World Series contender, with talent up and down the roster.
Game One: Lost 12-3
Friday night matched Arkansas ace Isaiah Campbell against the Tides Sam Finnerty. Both have been outstanding all year, but with different styles. Campbell is a big, strong, downhill thrower at 6’4” 235 pounds. In 30 innings entering the game he had walked only four batters and struck out 44. Finnerty is a savvy, veteran, and relies more on guile than on overpowering stuff. While Campbell touches mid 90’s with his fastball, Finnerty is more likely to sit around the 88-91 mph with his fastball.
In his two seasons as the Tide’s Friday night Finnerty you can almost always count on five to seven solid innings, with the team still in the game when he exists. On Friday night the Razorbacks had a different idea. Sophomore right fielder, Heston Kjerstad, a Freshman All American last season, touched Finnerty for a first inning home run to give the Hogs an early 1-0 lead. Things fell apart in the top of the second inning when Arkansas used five singles, a double, and a hit batter to plate six runs and put the game out of reach early. Finnerty was hit for two more doubles and one run in the third, before gutting his way through the fourth inning before leaving, on the wrong end of an 8-0 deficit.
In the bottom of the fifth the Tide looked to make a game of it when they loaded the bases on a John Trousdale single, a walk to Kolby Robinson, and a single by Kobe Morris. A long fly out by Joe Breaux ended the threat. Casey Cobb relieved Finnerty and ate four important innings up, saving the bullpen for the rest of the series. In his final inning of work, Cobb gave up a two run home run to Jacob Nesbit to stretch the lead to 10-0. Freshman Dylan Smith pitched the ninth for the Tide and was touched for two runs on three hits.