TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Arkansas' 7-3 win over Alabama on Thursday night wasn't exactly a thing of beauty.
But it was a big win to kick off the final series of the regular season.
For a team that seems to rely on the big inning to get offense, got just that in the fifth inning.
Peyton Stovall hit his fourth home run of the season with a two-run shot to right and Cayden Wallace put the Hogs on top with a three-run home run well beyond the wall in left field.
Jalen Battles provided some insurance for the Hogs with a two-run double in the ninth inning.
"Big swing by Stovall," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said later about that fifth inning. "We kept that inning going with Battles, what should have been a double, but he fell in the box. Ended up with a single, stole second.
"Then a really good at-bat by Gregory. We were just hoping that he would somehow find a way to get on base so Wallace would get to hit.
"Sure enough Wallace put a really good swing on a fastball in and I mean, he crushed it. All of a sudden we’re up two. The game just flipped."
It was not exactly smooth sailing early on for the Hogs, with sophomore right-handed pitcher Will McEntire making his first start in a Southeastern Conference game.
He made it through four innings on 79 pitches, doing a solid job of limiting damage.
Senior righty Kole Ramage relieved McEntire to begin the Alabama fifth, recording four outs before giving way to Evan Taylor.
The senior left-hander took care of the next six outs, four of which came on strikes, then turned it over to freshman righty Brady Tygart. After consecutive appearances in which he earned losses, he bounced back to strike out two Tide hitters and earn a five-out save.
Battles padded the Razorback lead in the ninth, plugging the left-center field gap with a two-out, two-run double.
Arkansas secured a first-round bye in next week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, with the win.
The bye affords the Razorbacks the opportunity to skip the single-elimination round of 12 teams, and begin play Wednesday in the double-elimination round of eight.
Arkansas and Alabama are set to square off again at 7 p.m. Friday, a contest that will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
Senior right-handed pitcher Connor Noland is expected to start opposite Crimson Tide righty Jacob McNairy.
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