AUBURN, Ala. – Collin Kuhn drove in the game-winning run in the top of the 11th and Nolan Sanburn threw three shutout innings in relief as Arkansas defeated Auburn 6-5 in 11 innings in the Southeastern Conference opener on Friday night.
Arkansas improves to 15-2 and 1-0 in the SEC, while Auburn is now 12-6 and 0-1 in the league.
With the game tied at five in the top of the 11th, Arkansas scored once to take a 6-5 lead. Jarrod McKinney was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and then stole second. With one out, Kuhn ripped a double down the left field line, scoring McKinney from second to put the Razorbacks in front 6-5.
Sanburn shut the door quickly on the Tigers in the bottom of the 11th. After a groundout to first to start the inning, Sanburn got Zach Alvord to strike out swinging and Justin Hargett to strike out looking to end the game and give the Razorbacks a thrilling one-run win.
Sanburn earned the first win of his collegiate career, throwing three shutout innings. The freshman from Kokomo, Ind., struck out four and gave up two hits.
Auburn reliever Ethan Wallen took his first loss of the season. Wallen pitched well, allowing a run on one hit with five strikeouts over 4.2 innings.
Neither starter factored into the decision. Arkansas starter DJ Baxendale gave up five runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. The run Baxendale allowed in the first snapped a 19.2 scoreless innings streak to start the season. Auburn starter Cory Luckie lasted 3.2 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits.
Matt Reynolds finished the night 4-for-6 at the plate with a run scored. Reynolds fell just a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. The four hits for Reynolds were a career high. Kuhn added three hits, including a pair of doubles, and drove in two runs. McKinney went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI.
Hargett had three hits to lead the Tigers, offensively. Casey McElroy went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Auburn struck first with a run in the bottom of the first. Hargett singled to lead off the frame and came around to score on a RBI double by McElroy to center field.
Arkansas answered with a run of its own in the top of the second. Dominic Ficociello and Bo Bigham hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. A sacrifice bunt by Matt Vinson moved each runner up a base. McKinney laid down a perfect bunt up the first base line, reaching on a base hit and scoring Ficociello from third to tie the game.
The Razorbacks took their first lead of the game with a run in the top of the third. Reynolds ripped a triple down the right field line to start the inning and came into score on a RBI groundout to short by Kyle Robinson.
Arkansas tacked on two more runs in the top of the fourth. With one out, McKinney singled to center. Tim Carver then lined a double down the left field, plating McKinney from first to put the Razorbacks in front 3-1. Kuhn followed with a double of his own down the left field line to score Carver for the fourth Arkansas run of the night.
Auburn rallied back to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth with three runs. With one down, Dan Gamache was hit by a pitch and he advanced to second on a single by Wes Gilmer. Tony Caldwell followed with a single to center to load the bases with one out. Kevin Patterson tied the game with a bases-clearing double to the left-center field alley.
The Tigers regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Hargett reached on a bunt single to begin the inning, but was erased on a caught stealing with one out in the inning. McElroy put Auburn in front with a solo homer to center field, his third round-tripper of the season.
Arkansas tied the game at five with a run in the seventh. Kuhn singled to center field to open the frame and moved to second on a base hit by Reynolds. Robinson laid down a sacrifice bunt to move runners to second and third with one out. James McCann grounded out to second to score Kuhn and even the game at five.
Auburn had a great chance to win the game in the home half of the 10th, but left runners at the corners. Gamache singled to right with one out and raced to third on a two-out opposite field single by Caldwell. Sanburn was able to get Patterson to strike out swinging to end the inning and set the stage for Kuhn’s heroics in the 11th.
Arkansas and Auburn continue the conference-opening series on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m. Freshman righty Brandon Moore (2-0, 3.27) will start for the Razorbacks, while Auburn will throw junior right-handed pitcher Will Irvin (2-0, 3.93). The game will be available on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network from IMG College and a free webcast of the game will be available on AuburnTigers.com. Also, a live blog and live stats will be available on ArkansasRazorbacks.com.