Arkansas Beats Auburn 4-1; Earns SEC Tournamen
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. – Arkansas junior Jarrett Gardner threw his first complete game allowing one run on five hits as the Razorbacks beat the Auburn Tigers 4-1 and earned a berth in the Southeastern Conference Tournament for the first time since 1999.
The Razorbacks improved to 30-24 overall and 13-14 in the SEC, while the Tigers dropped to 34-22 overall and 15-15 in the league.
Gardner improved to 3-2 with the win. The Moore, Okla., native threw 136 pitches, 87 for strikes, en route to the victory. Gardner gave up just one run, earned, and struck out two.
“This is a great feeling,” Gardner said. “We knew what we needed to do to get into the tournament and the guys came together and got it done.”
Leading 4-1 in the ninth inning, Auburn’s Trent Pratt doubled over the right field wall after Bobby Huddleston flew out to center. The Tigers had mounted a rally Saturday night in similar fashion, but Gardner forced Tug Hulett to line out to second and Scott Schade to ground out to short to end the game.
Scott Bridges led the Hogs offensively, going 3-for-4 with two runs. Bridges hit .615 (8-for-13) in the series with a double, triple, home run and two runs batted in.
The series win over the Tigers was the first for the Razorbacks since taking two of three in 1996.
The Razorbacks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Kirk McConnell singled to open the inning and moved to third on a single by Scott Bridges. Michael Conner walked to load the bases for Nick Pitts. Pitts hit a grounder to second who tagged the bag to putout Conner, but threw wild to first allowing Pitts to move to second and Bridges to score. McConnell also scored on the play to give the Hogs a two-run lead.
The Tigers cut into the Razorback lead in the fifth inning. Jonathan Schuerholz doubled to left and moved to third on Sean Gamble’s ground out to second. Schuerholz scored on a wild pitch by Jarrett Gardner to make it a 2-1 game.
Arkansas added to its lead in the bottom of the fifth. Bridges reached on a fielder’s choice and went to third on Conner’s single to right. Conner moved to second on a ground out by Pitts. Ryan Fox then blooped a single to center that scored Bridges and Conner for a 4-1 Razorback lead.
The Razorbacks will now head to Hoover, Ala., as the eighth seed in the SEC Tournament. The Razorbacks will face top-seeded South Carolina at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 22.
Arkansas swept a two game series from the Gamecocks on April 3-4, in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks own a 16-12 all-time record against the Gamecocks. Arkansas last met South Carolina in the SEC Tournament in 1992 in New Orleans. The teams met in the first round with the Hogs claiming an 8-6 victory. South Carolina avenged that loss with a 9-5 win to knock the Razorbacks out of the tournament that year.
Arkansas has an 11-13 all-time record in the tournament and claimed the 1999 tournament title.
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