FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.— The unanimous No. 1 team in college baseball has shown why it fits the bill.
Arkansas stifled No. 22 Alabama, 3-1, in the rubber game on Sunday afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium to secure its first SEC series win of the season. After allowing 16 runs in Friday night’s opener, the top-ranked Razorbacks limited the nationally ranked Crimson Tide to two runs on six hits over the final two games of the series.
The Hogs improve to 14-3 overall, including 2-1 in conference play, on the year with Sunday’s win.
Starter Lael Lockhart was missing bats from the very start. The lefty struck out five through the first three frames, racking up nine strikeouts in his 4.2 innings of work on Sunday.
The graduate transfer from Houston allowed only two hits and two walks in his stellar outing. Lockhart departed the game with two runners on in the top of the fifth, but reliever Kevin Kopps mitigated the threat.
Kopps struck out the first batter he faced, setting the tone for his multi-inning relief appearance. The righty went 3.1 frames out of the bullpen, totaling four strikeouts while allowing no runs and only one hit.
While Lockhart and Kopps silenced Alabama’s offense, Arkansas received its run support from two usual suspects. First baseman Brady Slavens launched his sixth homer of the year in the fourth inning to put the Hogs ahead, 1-0.
Catcher Casey Opitz later stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth. The Razorback captain delivered, driving in two with a single to left field and extending the lead to three.
Jaxon Wiggins was called upon for the first time this weekend in the top of the ninth. The freshman phenom faced some rare adversity, allowing a leadoff home run before settling down and striking out two to pick up his third save of the season.
The Razorbacks will finish off their six-game homestand during the early part of next week, hosting Memphis for two contests at Baum-Walker Stadium. First pitch in Tuesday’s ballgame is set for 6:30 p.m., while Wednesday’s finale against the Tigers gets going at 3 p.m.