May 1, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Auburn blasted four home runs in an eight-run fifth inning, two coming off the bat of Hunter Morris, before hanging on for an 8-7 win over No. 7 Arkansas at Baum Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Slade Smith picked up his first career SEC win in relief as Auburn improved to 29-15, 11-9 SEC and evened the series with SEC West leading Arkansas (35-9, 14-6) with its first Saturday win at Baum Stadium since 2004.
Auburn, which came into the day as the top offense in the SEC with a .348 team batting average and a SEC-best 74 home runs, had to overcome an early three-run deficit before holding off the second-best offense in the SEC, which stranded the game-tying and game-winning runs in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth.
The win was just the fourth of the season for a visitor to Baum as Arkansas had a gaudy 26-3 home record coming into Saturday, having won 11 straight at home and nine out of 10 against SEC opponents.
Smith threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk, striking out two after entering with Auburn down 3-0 after one inning to improve to 2-0 and pick up his first win since March 17.
"My main goal was just to keep us in the game," Smith said. "I knew our bats would get hot and they did."
Arkansas made quick work of Auburn starter Stephen Kohscheen as Brett Eibner hit his second three-run home run of the series in the bottom of the first, his 16th of the year and his ninth in SEC play, to give Arkansas the early 3-0 lead. Kohlscheen would last just the one inning, allowing two walks and a hit with a fourth hitter reaching base on a Morris error at first.
With neither team generating much offense for the next three innings, combining for just two hits from the second through fourth innings, Auburn took control of the game in the fifth with its first four-homer inning of the season to take an 8-3 lead. Morris led off with a line drive home run down the line in right before Ryan Jenkins hit a one-out, two-run line shot to left with Tony Caldwell aboard following his single. Dan Gamache then went back-to-back with Jenkins when he lined one into the bullpen in right, ending Arkansas starter Randall Fant's (3-1) day after he had surrendered four runs on five hits.
The inning got even worse for Arkansas reliever Jeremy Heatley, who allowed four runs on three hits while only recording one out. After Heatley retired Justin Hargett, Justin Fradejas singled and Trent Mummey was hit by a pitch to put two on for Brian Fletcher. Fletcher, who had just one RBI in his last five games, drove them in with a double to the wall in left center before Morris crushed his 15th home of the season over the bullpen in right, ending Heatley's very brief appearance with Auburn up, 8-3.
"It was a big inning for us. When you score all of your runs and get seven of your 10 hits in one inning, it is a big inning no matter how you look at it," Morris said. "The first at bat of the inning I was just looking to get on base. Their pitcher (Fant) had done a good job of getting ahead of us all day and working early in the count and keeping us off balance. I was thinking double out of the box but I was glad it got up an extra foot or so.
"The second at bat I didn't have to think about it for very long. I pretty much knew it was gone."
Arkansas clawed back into the game with a single run in the sixth on a James McCann two-out RBI single to right to make it 8-4 and then scored twice more in the bottom of the seventh, knocking Smith from the game with two out and runners on first and second. Sean Ray faced just one hitter and allowed a RBI single to Andy Wilkins before Auburn closer Austin Hubbard was summoned from the pen. After uncorking two wild pitches, the second of which allowed the second run of the inning to score, he induced a weak grounder back to the mound to help Auburn escape the inning with an 8-6 lead.
Up by two heading to the ninth, Hubbard had to face the teeth of the Arkansas lineup with the two through four spots due up. After a strike out to start the inning, Zack Cox reached first on an error by Justin Hargett on a ball back up the middle. Eibner followed with a single to left to put men on first and second. A Andy Wilkins single to center scored Cox and put runners on second and third as Fradejas' throw to third, which narrowly missed nailing Eibner, allowed Wilkins to get to third.
Hubbard then induced a shallow fly off the bat of Monk Kreder, which kept Eibner at third, before striking out pinch hitter Tom Hauskey to nail down his fifth save of the season and 17th of his career.
"I love pitching and playing in front of an away crowd. You put them on the ropes. That was a lot of fun," Hubbard said. "(In the ninth) I was going to what I did the inning before and pound the bottom of the zone with my fastballs. Slade had been doing it the whole game up until then, so that was inspiring knowing that I could come in and do the same. I threw some more fastballs today and I got some ground balls and some pop ups that didn't leave the yard."
Fradejas, who was 2-for-5, led off the game with a double to left to extend his hitting streak to 25 games but he was gunned down at home trying to score from third on Fletcher's line out to left.
Auburn will try to win a second consecutive series in Fayetteville when it sends Jr. LHP Grant Dayton (4-2, 5.14) to the mound at 1pm CT on Sunday. Arkansas will counter with Eibner, who is 3-3 with a 4.04 ERA on the mound.
Auburn 8, Arkansas 7 (May 01, 2010 at Fayetteville, AR)
Auburn.............. 000 080 000 - 8 10 3 (29-15, 11-9 SEC)
Arkansas............ 300 001 201 - 7 11 1 (35-9, 14-6 SEC)
Win-Slade Smith(2-0) Save-Austin Hubbard(5) Loss-Randall Fant(3-1) T-2:46 A-8713
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