April 28, 2007
AUBURN, Ala. -
Facing a six-run deficit after just two-and-a-half innings, the Auburn offense started to chip away at Arkansas' lead run-by-run and finally pulled ahead with a five-run seventh inning as the Auburn baseball team rallied for an 11-9 victory over No. 3 Arkansas on Saturday afternoon at Plainsman Park. The win evens the series between the two teams going into Sunday's 1:30pm CT rubber match.
"It was an unbelievable win," Auburn Assistant Coach Matt Myers said. "Every game means so much right now and we were as lethargic as we have been all season long in the first couple of innings. Coach (Tom) Slater made some changes and change was good for us today. The guys on the bench were ready and those guys believe when their opportunity comes they are going to make the most of it and today they helped us get this win."
Trailing 9-5 heading into the bottom of the seventh, senior Bruce Edwards (1-for-3, 2 BB, R, RBI, SB) got Auburn's inning started with a six-pitch walk. Senior Andy Bennett (2-for-3, 2 R) then took first as he was hit by a pitch, bringing sophomore Ryan Jenkins (1-for-3, R, RBI) to the plate. He hit into a fielder's choice that eliminated Edwards at third, but it was enough to knock out Arkansas reliever Brian McLelland, who was charged with two runs on four hits in 2.1 innings of work.
With Chris Rhoads (3-1) now on the hill for Arkansas, sophomore Mike Bianucci (1-for-4, R, RBI) doubled in Bennett to make it 9-6. Sophomore Justin Bristow (2-for-3, BB, 2 R, RBI), playing in the field for just the second time this season and making just his fifth plate appearance of 2007, drew an eight-pitch walk to load the bases for freshman Dustin Spruill (1-for-4, R), whose groundout to second pushed Jenkins across to make it 9-7.
Freshman Robert Brooks (3-for-3, BB, 3 R, 3 RBI) knotted the game at 9-9 with his eighth double of the season and scored two batters later when Eric Skinner (0-for-3) reached first safely on a throwing error by Arkansas second baseman Ben Tschepikow, giving Auburn's its first lead in the series.
"It was a great win for us today. It reminded me a lot of the Arizona State series. We were down early but got a little spark and ran with it," Brooks said.
The Auburn bullpen did exactly what it needed to do behind freshman starter Taylor Thompson as senior Johnny Thompson, senior Chris Dennis and junior Brett Butts combined to throw six complete innings, allowing just two runs on three hits.
Dennis (3-3) picked up the win with 3.0 innings of one-run ball, entering with Auburn down 7-4 and two runners on in the top of the fifth. He allowed a sacrifice fly to the first man he faced before getting out of the inning with two fly ball outs.
Butts earned his sixth save of the year with a near-perfect 2.0 innings, working around a walk in both the eighth and ninth innings to hammer home Auburn's 15th come-from-behind victory this season.
Bristow gave Auburn an insurance run in the ninth with an RBI single to left that scored Bennett.
Arkansas had scored two in the first, three in the second and one in the third to take the 6-0 lead. Auburn answered with two in the bottom of the third on a Ross Smith (3-for-4, R, 2 RBI) double and an Edwards single to start the comeback.
Edwards stole his 26th base of the season in the third, moving him into a five-way tie for fifth on Auburn's single-season stolen bases list. It also gives him 55 career steals, tying him with Rob Macrory for sixth on the career list.
Auburn is now 28-18 overall, 7-13 SEC. Arkansas is 34-12, 14-6 SEC.
Auburn will send So. RHP Bryan Woodall (2-1) to the mound for the rubber match while Arkansas will counter with Jr. RHP Jess Todd (5-2).