FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Alabama downed Arkansas, 10-4, on Saturday evening at Baum Stadium thanks to a two home run, five-RBI night from Will Haynie paired with another standout start from sophomore Jake Walters. The Crimson Tide claimed the series with the win tonight and improves to 29-21 overall and 14-12 in SEC play. "The way we're playing right now is important," said Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard. "This is as good of baseball as we've played all year. I was proud of the offense that we kept going. Last night we had eight and kind of sat on it, but tonight we did a good job to keep adding to our lead and ensuring that we got the win today."
Walters (5-3) provided another strong start for the Tide, striking out nine total batters - a career-high mark in any SEC start for the sophomore - across his 7.0 innings of work to collect his fifth win of the season. Walters gave up eight hits and issued three walks resulting in two earned runs to mark his 12th consecutive game in which he allowed two earned runs or less.
The offense provided Walters with a cushion, scoring nine of its 10 total runs before he exited the game. The output was highlighted by Haynie, who finished his day 2-for-4 with two home runs - one of which was a grand slam - a team-high five RBI, two runs scored and a walk. Also homering was Chandler Taylor, with the freshman finishing 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored.
Haynie's two-homer game was the first of his career and was Alabama's first since Georgie Salem did it at Samford on April 7, 2015. The homers from Haynie and Taylor in back-to-back games marked the second and third times this season a member of the Crimson Tide has homered in consecutive games, with Taylor also doing it from April 22-23 at Texas A&M.
Alabama staked itself to an early advantage, going up 4-0 after the first half inning of play. The three hitters to lead off the game in Keith Holcombe, Cobie Vance and Georgie Salem all walked to load the bases. One out later, Haynie cleared the bases, sending a grand slam over the left field wall to give Alabama a 4-0 lead. The four-RBI slam was Alabama's first grand slam since Casey Hughston hit one in game one of the doubleheader against Savannah State last season on Feb. 24.
The Razorbacks narrowed the gap with one run in the bottom of the third. Three consecutive one-out singles from Arkansas brought one in and put runners on the corners to make it a 4-1 game. Walters walked the next batter to load the bases, but a weak knock that fell in front of the plate allowed Haynie to step on home and gun it to first to get the double play and help limit the Arkansas scoring threat.
Alabama got back its two runs to move its lead to four again in the top of the fourth. Cody Henry began the scoring sequence with a one-out single and then one out later Sam Finnerty walked to put two on. Daniel Cucjen took advantage of the opportunity, sending a double down the left field line to score both runners and make it a 6-1 game and swing the momentum back in the Tide's favor.
The lead moved to 9-1 in the seventh thanks to three Tide runs. Holcombe reached with one out after being hit by a pitch, and then moved to second on an infield groundout. Salem then doubled to right-center to score one and force an Arkansas pitching change. Taylor was the first to face the new pitcher and sent a two-run home run down the right field line to cap off the scoring. The homer was Taylor's eighth of the season and second of the weekend.
Arkansas added one run in the bottom of the seventh to make it 9-2. In the ninth, Haynie regained his team lead in the home run column with a two-out, solo home run to center, making it 10-2. The homer was Haynie's fifth his last five games and his team-leading ninth of the year, eight of which have come against conference foes. The Hogs would not go quietly, adding a pair in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a two-run home run, but Arkansas would come no closer with the game ending at 10-4.
The Crimson Tide goes for the sweep of the Razorbacks tomorrow at 1 p.m. CT. Alabama is scheduled to throw junior right-hander Nick Eicholtz, while Arkansas counters with freshman righty Blaine Knight. The final game of the series will air live on SECN+.