FAYETTEVILLE — No. 1 Arkansas got another oustandding pitching performance from Zebulon Vermillion and broke a three-game skid with a 9-1 win over Alabama in Baum-Walker Stadium.
Zebulon went eight innings, allowed one hit, a run (earned), walked two and struck out four. Zack Morris came in to pitch the ninth inning. Morris allowed a double, but then struck out two before retiring the final hitter on a ground out. Vermillion (2-0) was the winning pitcher.
In the bottom of the third, Arkansas catcher Casey Opitz broke a scoreless tie when he sent a 1-0 pitch over the fence in right field for a 1-0 lead. Opitz had a great day at the plate. Opitz said he got a fast ball across the plate that he hit for the home run.
“Pretty much everything was working for Zebulon,” Opitz said. “He’s an older guy. He just attacked them and didn’t give them any momentum. He was incredible tonight.”
Christian Franklin got it started in the bottom of the fourth when he doubled down the line in left field. Matt Goodheart followed with a single to right field for a 2-0 lead.
Then in the bottom of the fifth Arkansas’ Cullen Smith hit a 1-2 pitch to left field for a double to lead off the inning. Following a strike out, Robert Moore grounded out to first base who tossed to the pitcher covering for the second out. On the play, Smith advanced to third. He then scored on a wild pitch for a 3-0 lead.
In the top of the sixth, Alabama shortstop Jim Jarvis leads off the inning with a single for the Tide’s first hit of the game. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and then got to third on a fly out. He was able to score on a sacrifice fly with one out. The Hogs now held a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Cayden Wallace started the inning off with a single. He then went to second on a single by Brady Slavens to left center. Braydon Webb tried a sacrifice bunt, but the Tide was able to get Wallace at third for one out. But then Opitz singled allowing Slavens to score and a 4-1 lead. Opitz advanced to second when Alabama tried to throw out Webb going to third base with one out. Smith sent the right fielder to the fence to narrowly miss a home run, but the sacrifice fly did allow Webb to tag and score from third base for a 5-1 advantage. Jalen Battles delivered a two-out single to left field to score Opitz from second and giving Arkansas a 6-1 lead entering the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the eighth, Webb started the inning off with a double. He was able to score on a single by Opitz and then an error that allowed him to make it 7-1. Smith then walked. Opitz advanced to third on a wild pitch and Smith to second. Battles hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Opitz to score. Smith then scored from third on a wild pitch for the final run of the night.
In the game, Wallace and Opitz each had three hits. Opitz and Battles each added two runs batted in.
Arkansas (13-3, 1-1) and Alabama will close out the series tomorrow with the first pitch slated for 2 p.m.