FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Behind seven strong innings by Justin Wells, the University of Arkansas Razorback baseball team earned a hard-fought 5-4 win over the Auburn Tigers on Saturday afternoon at Baum Stadium.
Wells gave up six hits and four runs over his seven innings of work in what was the first start of his career as a Razorback. The win improves the Razorbacks to 17-12 on the year and 3-7 in Southeastern Conference action while Auburn falls to 19-12 and 5-6 in the league.
“We played solid all around,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “I thought we pitched a solid game and it was a good win for us overall. We didn’t have some things go our way, but we stayed confident in the dugout and confident on the field and it turned out good for us in the long run.”
For the second straight game, Arkansas’ starting pitcher threw into the seventh inning and Wells’ work through the first six was outstanding. He was clean through the first six batters of the game and did not allow a run in five of the seven innings he worked. A leadoff walk in the top of the eighth finally chased him from the game for Stephen Richards who threw the final two innings for his first save of the season.
“Wells was tremendous today,” Van Horn said. “He gave us a chance to win and saved some of our guys in the bullpen with his pitching. I just thought he did a tremendous job. Sometimes good hitting and good pitching feed off each other. When you pitch well, hitters relax a little and are a little quicker at the plate.”
Auburn would be the first team on the scoreboard again in game two of the series as it capitalized on a leadoff double in the third by Brian Fletcher. A groundout later, and the Tigers got a sacrifice fly off the bat of Matt Hall to score the first run of the contest.
The Razorbacks would come back to take their first lead of the two games in the bottom of inning. A leadoff error on the Auburn third baseman off the bat of Ryan Cisterna was followed up by a single through the right side by shortstop Scott Lyons. An attempted sacrifice bunt by Sean Jones went in Arkansas’ favor when the Auburn third baseman threw the ball away again allowing Cisterna to score from second and giving Arkansas runners on second and third with no outs. A sacrifice fly by Jeff Nutt would score Arkansas’ second run of the inning and give it a one-run lead.
Auburn would tie the game in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice fly making the score 2-2. The bottom of the sixth allowed the Razorbacks to once again take the lead. Logan Forsythe led the inning off with a walk, his 11th in the past seven games. Forsythe would move to second on Nutt’s cue shot to first and then score on a Texas-league flare to right-center field by Brett Eibner.
The Tigers would tie the game for a second time, this time at three, with back-to-back-to-back hits in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Fletcher would hit a double off the right field wall which was followed by a pair of singles by Ryan Jenkins and Hall.
The Razorbacks would take the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh on solid hitting and smart base running. Cisterna led off with a double to right center field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Lyons. Jones would hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Cisterna with Arkansas’ fourth run of the game then three consecutive hits by Ben Tschepikow, Logan Forsythe and Nutt made the score 5-4.
Arkansas and Auburn conclude their series on Sunday afternoon with a 1:05 p.m. start. For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics please visit www.hogwired.com.