ARK-ALA BSB 5/25/22

Graduate catcher Michael Turner attempts to tag Alabama third baseman Zane Denton during Wednesday's game. The Crimson Tide downed the Razorbacks 4-3 in the second round of the SEC Tournament.

HOOVER, Ala. — As Alabama designated hitter William Hamiter swung through strike two with two outs in the fourth inning Wednesday afternoon, graduate senior catcher Michael Turner’s attempt to catch a wandering baserunner went awry. The throw went into left field, allowing Crimson Tide left fielder Tommy Seidl to score the eventual winning run in the Razorbacks’ 4-3 second-round loss in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

The Hogs, who spent a vast majority in the top 10, now face elimination in the conference tournament, in which they need to perform well to host a regional at Baum-Walker Stadium. Playing against the 11th-seeded Crimson Tide, they managed just five hits, without collecting more than one in any one inning.

Pitching coach and acting head coach Matt Hobbs addressed the Razorbacks’ reliance on home runs to score runs in the postgame press conference.

“(Home runs are) part of our offense, and it's one of the things that if it has helped us win games in the past, we can't blame it on it when we lose games,” Hobbs said.

Head coach Dave Van Horn was not in the dugout Wednesday. He was not feeling well, but resting comfortably, according to a UA spokesperson.

“We'd love to have him here, and he affects the game hugely, that's why he's got such a good reputation,” graduate senior right fielder Chris Lanzilli said. “I don't know, maybe (Van Horn’s absence) was a big part of (the loss).”

Having defeated Arkansas in consecutive games, Alabama jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a broken play in the second inning. Seidl drove in the first run on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded, but junior second baseman Robert Moore’s throwing error allowed another Crimson Tide to score on the play.

Razorback sophomore right-handed pitcher Will McEntire struck out back-to-back hitters in the third, but the second one reached on a dropped third strike. Instead of throwing to first for the second out, Turner charged at Alabama center fielder Caden Rose, who was caught between second and third base. McEntire could not make the tag in time, and the Crimson Tide had two runners in scoring position with one out.

Hobbs called on junior lefty Zack Morris to record the final two outs of the third, which he did, but not without allowing Rose to score. Sophomore third baseman Cayden Wallace went a long way into foul territory to catch a pop fly, and Rose tagged up for the third run.

Arkansas senior shortstop Jalen Battles got the run back in the bottom of the frame, belting an 0-1 fastball over the left-center field fence for his ninth home run of the season. However, Alabama re-established its three-run lead in the fourth on the Turner throwing error.

“We've made mistakes in big spots, and I think that's one of those things that it shows up because you expect it to be so good because it has been so good,” Hobbs said of the defense.

Lanzilli initiated an inning-ending 9-2 double play in the top of the fifth, giving the Razorback dugout a much-needed energy boost. In the bottom of the sixth, he delivered with his bat as well, unleashing a mammoth two-run shot to left-center field and cutting the deficit to one run.

“I just feel confident at the plate, and (I’m) kind of just not letting anything get in my head, not thinking too much and just playing the game,” Lanzilli said.

With the momentum on their side and lockdown relief pitching from Morris, senior right-hander Kole Ramage and senior lefty Evan Taylor, Arkansas had every opportunity to take the lead, yet it managed to squander every one.

Senior designated hitter Brady Slavens chased strike three in the dirt with two on and two out in the seventh. Lanzilli, Turner and Moore went down in order in the eighth. Battles’ second hit of the contest, a two-out single in the ninth, was for naught, as sophomore Jace Bohrofen waved at strike three to end the game.

“I mean, we have guys that are unbelievable at baseball, and we need to get out of our own heads and play with confidence,” Lanzilli said.

Arkansas is scheduled to meet the loser of Thursday’s Florida-Texas A&M contest at a time to be determined. The elimination game is supposed to be the fourth of four games Thursday, but the weather may not allow that to be the case. Whenever it is played, it will be broadcast on the SEC Network.

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