No. 20 Arkansas Holds Off Late Rally, Downs No
BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas relief pitcher Boyd Goodner pitched two hitless innings to stem an Auburn rally as the Razorbacks held on for a 9-7 victory over the fifth-ranked Tigers in the Friday night series opener at Plainsman Park.
Arkansas improved to 29-7 overall and 10-6 in the Southeastern Conference, while the Tigers dropped to 30-9 overall and 11-5 in the SEC. The win was the fourth in the last five games over the Tigers for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas starter Jarrett Gardner (4-2) earned the win after going five and one-third innings allowing five runs, four earned, on eight hits. Gardner extended his streak of consecutive innings without a walk to 54.0 in the win.
Goodner entered the game with the Razorbacks clinging to a two-run lead in the eighth inning. The Tigers had scored a combined five runs in the previous two innings before Goodner entered the game. But the Benton, Ark., native shut the Tigers down in the eighth and ninth innings not allowing a batter to reach base to earn his first save of the season.
Eric Brandon (2-3) took the loss for Auburn after giving up eight runs, all earned, on eight hits in one and one-third inning of work. Brandon fanned three and did not allow a walk.
The Razorbacks opened the game in strong fashion, tallying four runs on five hits before the first out was recorded. Nick Pitts and Kirk McConnell each singled to put runners on first and second. Andrew Wishy then singled to center to score Pitts and give the Hogs a 1-0 lead.
Haas Pratt made it a 4-0 lead with a three-run home run that hit off the scoreboard in left-center. It was Pratt’s 10th home run of the season.
Arkansas continued the offensive outburst as four runs crossed the plate in the top of the second inning. Scott Hode began the inning with a single and later moved to second when Pitts was hit by a pitch. Wishy picked up his second RBI of the game with a single that plated Hode for a 5-0 lead.
After Pratt was hit by a pitch, Clay Goodwin single home Pitts for a 6-0 advantage. With the bases loaded Ryan Fox delivered a single to center that scored Pratt and Goodwin to extend the Arkansas lead to 8-0.
The Tigers got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third inning after taking advantage of a two-out Arkansas error. With two down and a runner on first, Gardner threw wild to first on a chopper back to the mound by Javon Moran.
Tug Hulett then singled to right to plate Sean Gamble to make it an 8-1 game.
Auburn made it an 8-2 game when Karl Amonite hit a solo home run to left-center to open the fourth inning.
The Razorbacks answered Amonite’s solo blast in the top of the fifth when Fox hit his 15th home run of the season that sailed high over the mini Green Monster in left field. The home run was the 29th of Fox’s career and gave the Hogs a 9-2 lead. The home run also moved Fox into a tie for ninth on the single-season chart with Rodney Nye who had 15 bombs in 1998.
The Tigers jumped back into the game with back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. With Hulett aboard, Bobby Huddleston hit a two-run home run to right that cut the Arkansas lead to 9-4. Amonite then followed with solo shot to right that made it a 9-5 game.
Auburn cut deeper in the Razorback lead in the seventh with a pair of runs. Huddleston again did the damage with a two-run single following a balk by reliever Scott Roehl that put runners on second and third. Huddleston’s single made it a 9-7 game.
Roehl lasted one and one-third innings allowing two runs, both earned, on two hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
Arkansas and Auburn continue the series Saturday with a 3 p.m. game.
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