AUBURN, Ala. – The Arkansas bullpen surrendered a five-run seventh inning that allowed Auburn to rally for a 11-9 win on Saturday afternoon in front of 2,441 fans at Plainsman Park.
Auburn’s big seventh inning chased reliever Brian McLelland from the game after giving up two runs and got to his replacement Chris Rhoads for three runs. Mike Bianucci’s RBI double and Robert Brooks’ two-RBI double highlighted the inning.
Travis Hill relieved Rhoads with two outs in the inning and ran into a little bad luck on an infield chopper by Ross Smith that went for a single and a throwing error on Ben Tschepikow that gave Auburn the 10-9 lead. When the dust settled the Tigers had scored five runs on three hits and an error.
The loss snaps four-game winning streak and drops the Razorbacks to 14-6 in SEC play and 34-12 overall. It marked the seventh SEC win for Auburn, who improves to 7-13 in league play and 28-18 overall.
The Arkansas bullpen surrendered six runs on nine hits over four innings. Rhoads took the loss after allowing three runs – two earned – on two hits with a walk in one-third of an inning.
The Hogs’ offense did not help much after jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the third inning. UA left 15 runners on base with Sean Jones stranding seven men by him self.
Duke Welker pitched just four innings and left after struggling through the third and fourth inning and issuing a leadoff walk in the fifth inning. He allowed five runs on five hits with two walks and just one strikeout.
Taylor Thompson lasted three innings for the Tigers and did not get a decision. He surrendered seven runs – five earned – on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
Chris Dennis got the win out of the bullpen for the Tigers with three strong innings, allowing just one run on two hits with two walks and a strikeout. Brett Butts finished things off with his sixth save of the season, fanning three over the final two innings.
The Hogs got on the scoreboard first with a little help from the Tigers. Jake Dugger drew a walk to leadoff the game and after Sean Jones sacrificed him to second base, Logan Forsythe lifted a fly ball to right field that was mishandled after the catch allowing Dugger to score from second base. Casey Coon singled home Jeff Nutt with a two-out single to make it 2-0.
Arkansas extended the lead to 5-0 in the second inning on Brian Walker’s eight home run of the season. The two-run shot cleared the Razorbacks’ bullpen in right field and tied his career high in home runs. Sean Jones plated the third run of the inning with a double down the right-field line to Matt Willard who had reached on an error.
Matt Willard lined a RBI single up the middle in the third inning as UA went on top 6-0.
Auburn got right back in the game in the bottom of the third inning when Welker struggled to find the strike zone. He walked the leadoff hitter and then gave up a 1-2 double down the left field line to Ross Smith that scored the Tigers’ first run. A fly ball to right field moved Smith to third base and he scored on a chopper to the pitcher that Welker threw to a vacant first base.
Arkansas got a run back in the top of the fourth with a sacrifice fly by Danny Hamblin, but gave it right back in the bottom half of the inning. Justin Bristow doubled down the right-field line with one out and Robert Brooks drove him in with two outs with a single to right field. Ross doubled for the second time in as many innings to score Brooks and make it 7-4.
Dugger’s leadoff walk led to the Razorbacks’ eighth run in top of the fifth inning as Forsythe drove him in with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Welker’s leadoff walk in the fifth plated Auburn’s fifth run on Ryan Jenkins’ infield single. Reliever Brian McLelland got a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning.
Hamblin, Jones and Willard led the way for the Razorbacks with two hits each as the team collected 11. Dugger tied the school career walk record as he drew four free passes on Saturday, giving him 156 for his career. He is tied with Tim Thomas.
The rubber game of the series is slated for 1:30 p.m. Sunday from Plainsman Park in Auburn, Ala.