Top-25 Showdown in Fayetteville as No. 22 Alabama Baseball Meets Top-Ranked Arkansas

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama is set for its first top-25 matchup of the season as the 22nd-ranked Crimson Tide travels to Fayetteville to square off with No. 1 Arkansas to open Southeastern Conference play. The series at Baum-Walker Stadium is set to begin with a pair of 6:30 p.m. CT starts on both Friday and Saturday evening. Sunday’s game is set for a 2 p.m. first pitch. Fans can catch the first two matchups on SEC Network+ with the series finale airing nationally on SEC Network.

Follow the Tide

Fans can follow this weekend’s games via the below outlets:

Watch: SEC Network+ (Friday and Saturday) | SEC Network (Sunday)

Listen: 100.9 FM / CTSN / TuneIn App

Twitter: @AlabamaBSB

Live Stats:

Probable Starting Pitching Matchups

FRIDAYUA – Tyler Ras (Jr., RHP) vs. ARK – Peyton Pallette (So., RHP)

SATURDAY: UA – Dylan Smith (Jr., RHP) vs. ARK – Zebulon Vermillion (Sr., RHP)

SUNDAY: UA – Antoine Jean (So., LHP) vs. ARK – Lael Lockhart (Gr., LHP)

Leading Off

  • Alabama and Arkansas will meet for the 92nd time in series history when the two team meet at Baum-Walker Stadium on Friday evening. The Tide holds the overall series advantage, 48-34, but is 18-24 all-time in Fayetteville.
  • The two teams met last met from March 22-24, 2019, in Tuscaloosa. The ninth-ranked Razorbacks claimed a 2-1 series win, notching victories in the bookend games of the weekend. Arkansas came away with a 12-3 win in the opener on Friday with Alabama returning on Saturday to blank the Hogs, 10-0. The Razorbacks came right back on Sunday with another double-digit scoring day, taking down the Tide by a 10-2 margin.
  • Arkansas swept Alabama in the last meeting in Fayetteville from April 27-29, 2018. The Razorbacks won 7-3, 7-4 and 9-7 in three consecutive days. Alabama’s last series win in Fayetteville came from May 13-15, 2016 – a sweep.
  • Alabama continues with its weekend rotation that features righties Tyler Ras and Dylan Smith along with left-hander Antoine Jean. Ras will take the hill in Friday’s opener for his fourth career SEC start. Smith gets the nod on Saturday followed by Jean on Sunday with the duo making their first career start in league play.
  • Arkansas opens the weekend with right-hander Peyton Pallette on Friday evening. The Razorbacks then send senior righty Zebulon Vermillion to the hill on Saturday followed by graduate Lael Lockhart, a lefty, in the series finale.

About Alabama

  • Alabama wrapped up last week at 4-1 overall to push the 22nd-ranked Tide’s win total to 14 on the season, matching LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M for the most wins by a Division I baseball team as of Monday, March 15. The Crimson Tide first downed South Alabama last Tuesday followed by a win over Jacksonville State on Wednesday. Alabama then came away victorious, 2-1, in a three-game weekend series with Stetson last Friday through Sunday.
  • Owen Diodati recorded his third grand slam of the season, this one in walkoff fashion as the sophomore’s roundtripper led Alabama to an 11-8 win over South Alabama last Tuesday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
  • The Crimson Tide and Jaguars traded runs all night with South carrying an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Down to a final chance, Alabama used two hits and a pair of errors to score one and load them up for Diodati, with the sophomore sending a ball deep into the student section for the grand slam and walkoff win.
  • Alabama used another solid start from Connor Shamblin to earn a 7-2 win over Jacksonville State last Wednesday evening in Tuscaloosa to complete the 2021 home-and-home sweep of the Gamecocks.
  • Shamblin was reliable once again, posting a career-long 6.0 innings of work and allowing just one run on three hits to pick up his second win of the season. He did not issue a walk while striking out six to match his career-high total before handing the ball over to his bullpen.
  • The Tide’s comeback effort came up short last Friday evening as UA fell to Stetson, 4-2, in Tuscaloosa.
  • Alabama was no-hit through eight innings and trailed 4-0 heading to the bottom of the ninth. Drew Williamson began that final frame with a single to left. He came home in the next at-bat when Zane Denton sent a home run deep over the visitor’s bullpen in right-center to cut the lead in half. A single from Diodati and a two-out double from Andrew Pinckney brought the go-ahead run to the plate but a 6-3 groundout ended the Tide’s comeback.
  • Crimson Tide starter Tyler Ras was handed the hard-luck loss in the series opener as his defense failed him, committing a season-high four errors on the night. The four miscues played a part in his four runs allowed – only one of which was earned – across his 5.0-plus innings of work.
  • Alabama walked it off in extras on Saturday against Stetson, downing the Hatters, 4-3, in 12 innings. The two teams were knotted up at three apiece through regulation. The Crimson Tide got runners on in the 10th and 11th but were unable to capitalize on the opportunities until the 12th.
  • William Hamiter began the 12th with a leadoff single. Sam Praytor followed with a walk to put two on with no outs, creating a sacrifice bunt situation for Williamson. The Tide cleanup hitter dropped down a perfect sac bunt that was fielded by the Stetson pitcher, but an errant throw sent the ball into right field and allowed Hamiter to come all the way in for the game-winning run.
  • UA starter Dylan Smith was stellar, tossing a career-long 8.0 innings in the start. The junior allowed three runs on six hits and a walk with a career-high tying 10 Ks. He retired the final 10 batters faced before Chase Lee took over.
  • The Tide closer picked up his fourth win of the year with a season-long 4.0 innings of scoreless, hitless baseball that included four strikeouts. Lee picked up right where Smith left off, retiring the first six batters he faced to help UA post a stretch of 16 straight retired from the sixth through the 10th inning to push it to extras for the eventual Alabama win.
  • A seven-run third inning proved to be more than enough for the win as Alabama downed Stetson, 9-4, on Sunday afternoon for the series-clinching win.
  • The Hatters got out front for a third straight game, crossing a run in the top of the first, but that would be the last time Stetson held a lead on Sunday. The Crimson Tide answered with a seven-run third inning to put the game out of reach. Stetson battled for two in the fourth and one in the seventh, but a two-run eighth by UA ensured the win.
  • Eight of the Tide’s nine starters recorded a hit on the day with five of those eight posting multi-hit efforts. Hamiter and Pinckney led the charge with three-hit efforts. Hamiter went 3-for-4, including a two-RBI double, and added one walk while Pinckney finished 3-for-4 with an RBI, one run and a stolen base. Pinckney’s stolen base was one of the Tide’s season-high six on the afternoon.
  • Antoine Jean claimed his second win of the season. The sophomore worked 6.0 innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks with a career-high tying six strikeouts.

About Arkansas

  • Arkansas finished the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign at 11-5 overall. Arkansas was set to travel to Mississippi State for the beginning of SEC play when the season was officially canceled.
  • Dave Van Horn is in his 19th year leading the Arkansas baseball program and his 27th season overall as a Division I head coach. In total, Van Horn has accumulated 33 seasons as a collegiate head coach, including stints at the Division II and Junior College levels. Van Horn is assisted by Nate Thompson and Matt Hobbs along with volunteer assistant Bobby Wernes.
  • The Razorbacks were selected to finish third in the West and fifth overall in the SEC in the league’s preseason poll, as voted on by the conference’s head coaches.

On Deck

Alabama returns to Sewell-Thomas Stadium to begin a nine-game homestand, its longest of the 2021 season. The nine-game stretch starts with a midweek matchup against Southern Miss on Tuesday, March 23. The Crimson Tide and Golden Eagles are set for a 6 p.m. CT first pitch with the game airing live on SEC Network+.