Tide upsets Arkansas in SEC opener
Big first inning, Kilcrease's 10 Ks lead Alabama to victory
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Alabama used a five-run first inning and starting pitcher Nathan Kilcrease struck out a career-high 10 batters as the Crimson Tide posted a 7-4 win against the No. 18 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks in the opening game of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament on Wednesday morning from Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
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Seventh seeded Alabama (33-24) got another great start from Kilcrease, the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week. Kilcrease (7-4) tied his season and career-high with 10 strikeouts, to keep the SEC Western Division Champion and two-seeded Razorbacks' bats quiet. He finished the game allowing four runs (one earned) on seven hits in 8.0 innings. Jonathan Smart pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his 10th save of the season.
"Nathan [Kilcrease] has delivered for us time and time again, and today was no different," UA head coach Mitch Gaspard said. "It seems like every time we need one, he gives us one of his best outings. Today he had the most strikeouts he's had in a game, and it came against an SEC opponent. I thought our team competed really hard, and in an early game, came out ready to play."
The Crimson Tide collected 11 hits en route to a win in the first game of the SEC Tournament, which started at 9:30 a.m. CT, for the second season in a row. Taylor Dugas, Brett Booth, Andrew Miller and Jared Reaves had two hits each for Alabama. Dugas finished 2-for-4 with a home run, a walk and two runs scored. Booth, who is hitting .407 (11-for-27) with a team high six RBI over the past seven games, was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Miller had a single and a double, drove in one and scored once and Reaves had a pair of singles. Hunter Gregory was 1-for-3 with two RBI.