AP photo by Dave Martin|
Tide players weren't happy to see Arkansas' Danny Hamblin's three-run homer in the third inning of the SEC tournament in Hoover on Wednesday.
puts Tide to sleep
By Josh Cooper
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2460
HOOVER — The night before Arkansas' 6-0 drubbing of Alabama in the first round of the SEC baseball tournament, Razorbacks starter Nick Schmidt couldn't sleep.
A slight case of food poisoning had Schmidt staring at the ceiling for most of the evening. But the stomach and lack of sleep didn't faze Arkansas' ace as he mowed down Alabama, not giving up a hit until Brandon May's seeing-eye single in the seventh inning.
Moving his fastball on both corners and throwing his curveball for strikes, Schmidt allowed two hits in nine innings, while striking out six and walking four in the complete-game shutout.
"Their pitcher was outstanding," said Alabama coach Jim Wells. "Not a whole lot we did in any form or fashion of the game."
With the loss, Alabama (31-25) moves to the losers' bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
The Tide will play Florida (28-29) on Thursday. The loser will be eliminated. Florida lost to South Carolina 4-3 in 12 innings.
Another loss could toughen Alabama's case for the NCAA tournament, but the Tide is still most likely in. If Florida loses, it would finish under .500 for the season and would be ineligible for further postseason play.
Baseball America's latest NCAA tournament projections had the Tide as a No. 3 seed, but nothing is set.
A strong showing in the SEC tournament could have helped the Tide's placement, but Schmidt and Arkansas proved too much.
Arkansas playing aggressively, the Razorbacks exploited most of the Tide's weaknesses.
Alabama led the SEC in stolen bases against with 86, and Arkansas stole four bases, causing starter Tommy Hunter to concentrate more on picking off runners than getting out hitters.
In the fourth inning, Hunter threw wildly to first to keep Arkansas center fielder Jake Dugger close to the base.
Dugger was called out at third base when he slid past the bag, but the play was a microcosm of Arkansas pushing the envelope with guys on base.
The Razorback base stealers Wednesday had 11 combined swipes for the season.
"We needed to pick up our offensive tempo because we had not been scoring runs," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "What we had been working on is hitting and running, stealing, bunting."
And the long ball as well. In the third inning with Arkansas winning 2-0 and runners on second and third, Hunter hung a curveball. Arkansas first baseman Danny Hamblin crushed it over the left field wall.
"It was their approach, hit the curveball, and it was very obvious," said Hunter, who allowed six runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings of work.
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