AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn rallied from a one-run deficit with four runs in the eighth, and held off a ninth inning Arkansas rally to defeat the Razorbacks 8-7 on Sunday afternoon at Plainsman Park.
Arkansas drops to 15-4 and 1-2 in Southeastern Conference play, while Auburn is now 14-6 and 2-1 in the SEC.
With Arkansas leading 5-4 entering the bottom of the eighth, Auburn regained the lead with four runs. Pinch hitter Cullen Wacker was hit by a pitch to start the inning. After a fly out to center by Creede Simpson, Justin Hargett and Justin Fradejas drew back-to-back walks to load the bases with one out. Casey McElroy singled through the right side to score Bobby Andrews, who pinch ran for Wacker, and Hargett. Dan Gamache singled to center field to bring home Fradejas. With two outs, Tony Caldwell singled to left field to score McElroy to put Auburn in front 8-5.
Arkansas would not go quietly in the ninth, scoring twice and nearly tying the game. Tim Carver reached on a fielding error by the shortstop to start the inning. With one out, Jacob Morris walked to move Carver to second. A single to left field by Matt Reynolds loaded the bases with one out. Kyle Robinson looped a single into right-center field to bring home Carver and cut the Tiger lead to two. Dominic Ficociello then singled into right field to score Morris. Reynolds tried to score from second, but he was thrown out at the plate on a perfect throw by Fradejas in right. With runners at the corners and two out, pinch hitter Eric Fisher grounded to second to end the game and give Auburn a one-run win.
Ficociello had a big day at the plate for the Razorbacks, going 4-for-5 with three RBI. Bo Bigham and Kyle Robinson each added two hits. Collin Kuhn drove in a pair of runs for Arkansas.
McElroy continued his hot hitting against the Razorbacks, going 3-for-4 with four RBI and three runs scored. Hargett and Simpson each had two hits.
Auburn reliever Ethan Wallen (1-2) earned the win in relief. Wallen allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits in 1.2 innings. Arkansas reliever Nolan Sanburn (1-1) suffered the loss, surrendering three runs on two hits in a third of an inning.
Each starter received a no decision. Arkansas starter Cade Lynch gave up four runs on six hits in 3.1 innings. Auburn starter Derek Varnadore pitched well, giving up three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts in six innings.
Auburn got the scoring started with a run in the bottom of the first. With two outs, McElroy lined a single to center and then moved to second after Gamache was hit by a 1-2 pitch. Wes Gilmer then singled into left field to score McElroy and put the Tigers in front 1-0.
The Tigers added another run in the second. Kevin Patterson led off the inning with a single, but was retired at second on a fielder’s choice after Brooks Beisner was unable to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Simpson then doubled to the left-center field gap to advance Beisner to third. Hargett looped a soft single to center to score Beisner to put Auburn in front 2-0.
Arkansas got a run back in the top of the third. Bigham hit the first pitch of the inning down the left field line for a double and moved to third on a groundout to short by Carver. Kuhn hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Bigham from third.
Auburn regained a two-run lead in the home half of the third. McElroy led off the inning with a solo home run over the right field wall to put the Tigers on top 3-1.
The Tigers plated another run in the fourth, thanks in large part to a walk and two hit batters. With one out, Beisner was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a single by Simpson. A walk to Justin Fradejas loaded the bases with two out. McElroy was hit by a pitch to score Beisner for the fourth Auburn run.
The Razorbacks cut the lead to one with two runs scored in the top of the seventh. Sam Bates led off the inning with a double off the wall in right field. James McCann followed with a single to left field to score Jacob Rice, who had pinch run for Bates. A bunt single by Bigham put runners at first and second with nobody out. Carver laid down a sacrifice bunt to move runners to second and third. Kuhn hit his second sacrifice fly to center to score McCann and make the score 4-3.
Arkansas grabbed its first lead of the game with two runs in the top of the eighth. Reynolds drew a leadoff walk and raced around to third on a hit-and-run single to left field by Robinson. A fielding error by the Auburn leftfielder allowed Robinson to get to second. Ficociello singled through the right side of the infield to score both runs and put the Razorbacks in front 5-4.
Arkansas is back in action Tuesday and Wednesday with a two-game midweek series against Memphis. First pitch for both games is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday’s game will be played at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock and will be televised by CST. Wednesday’s contest will take place at AutoZone Park in Memphis.