Josh Anthony went 4-for-5 with 3 RBI in Sunday's win over Arkansas (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Emily Shoffit)
With the decisive game three of the series between #10 Auburn and #14 Arkansas to be played on Sunday at Plainsman Park, no one knew what to expect as the teams took the field. The five, six, and seven hitters in Auburn’s lineup got the best of the Razorbacks pitching staff, earning Auburn the series win, 11-6.
With both team’s announcing their starting pitchers after Saturday’s 7-3 win by Arkansas, it was predicted that it would be a “pitch by committee” type of day. With Casey Mize getting the weekend off due to fatigue, usual Sunday starter, Davis Daniel, pitched in yesterday’s game, leaving Sunday’s start to be announced. Coach Butch Thompson elected to go with Ryan Watson, giving him the second start of his young career. The result was Watson’s longest outing, pitching three complete innings, allowing five hits and two earned runs on 43 pitches.
The Tiger bullpen out-dueled Arkansas’ as Auburn only needed to use three pitchers on the day. Calvin Coker relieved Watson in the fourth inning, allowing four hits and three earned runs. Andrew Mitchell got the call in the fifth inning and carried the Tigers to the final out in the ninth inning. Mitchell seemed to progress as the innings passed, striking out three batters and allowing three hits.
Arkansas had issues with starting pitching over the weekend, and it continued on Sunday. Much like Auburn, Arkansas named their starter after Saturday’s game. Josh Alberius got the call, and lasted 1.2 innings, allowing five hits and four earned runs. His outing was the second longest outing recorded by an Arkansas starter over the three-game set. Blaine Knight lasted 2.1 innings on Friday night, and Trevor Stephan tossed 1.1 innings on Saturday, bringing the total to 5.1 innings of work over three days. The Hogs’ used five pitchers out of the bullpen, with Kacey Murphy’s outing being the longest at 3.1 innings.
As for the offensive production, the middle of the lineup was a thorn in Arkansas side throughout. Dylan Ingram, Luke Jarvis, and Josh Anthony combined to record ten of Auburn’s 16 hits, and seven of the Tigers 11 runs. Anthony picked up four hits and three RBI, Jarvis picking up three hits and three RBI, two of those runs coming off of a second-inning home run. Ingram only recorded one RBI on three hits, but his solo shot in the eighth inning helped cement the lead for Auburn. Jonah Todd and Bo Decker each had two RBI.
Auburn’s biggest offensive output came in the bottom of the second inning when four runs came across the plate. After the Razorbacks scored the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly from Jax Biggers that scored Grant Koch from third base, Luke Jarvis and Jonah Todd answered the call by recording two RBI each. Jarvis hit a two-run home run with one out, and Todd sent two home with a double off the tall left field wall at Plainsman Park.
Each team traded a run in the third inning. Arkansas on a RBI single by Koch, and Auburn’s came on a Bo Decker grounder up the middle to move the score to 5-2 Auburn. The Hogs picked on new Auburn pitcher Calvin Coker by scoring three runs on four hits, tying the game at five. Jake Arledge reached base on the third hit of the inning for Arkansas, which scored Carson Shaddy. Chad Spanberger then picked up two RBI on a single.
Auburn regained the lead on a sacrifice fly by Jarvis, making the score 6-5. The RBI would be Jarvis’ third of the game.
Andrew Mitchell took over on the mound for Auburn in the fifth inning, throwing a perfect fifth and sixth inning before Arkansas tied the game for the second time in the seventh stanza. Mitchell allowed two singles to open the inning, with the leadoff batter, Arledge, making it to third on a hard grounder by Spanberger. Luke Bonfield grounded out into a 6-4-3 double play, which allowed Arledge to score, tying the game at six.
Much like the first time that Arkansas tied the game, it was erased in the bottom half of the inning.
The Tigers recorded three hits, all doubles, scoring three runs to move ahead 9-6.
After Dylan Ingram reached on a walk, and Jarvis on a double, Josh Anthony picked up his fifth and sixth RBI of the weekend on a double that cleared the bases. The third double of the inning came off the bat of Bo Decker. The senior lined a 2-1 count off of the left field wall, easily scoring Anthony.
The middle of the lineup, which played a key role in a number of runs Auburn scored on Sunday, capped scoring in the bottom half of the eighth inning. Ingram powered a long ball over off of the video board in left-center field for his third hit of the day. After Jarvis reached base for the third time, Anthony doubled him home, extending the lead to 11-6.
A perfect ninth-inning by Mitchell solidified the game, securing an Auburn win in the rubber match of the series.
Auburn wins their ninth weekend series of the season and their fifth in six tries against a SEC opponent. Sunday’s win improves their record to 30-12, 12-6 in SEC play. Arkansas falls to 32-10, 12-6 SEC. The Tigers and Razorbacks exit the weekend tied for second in the SEC West. Auburn has a chance to lead the division outright when they travel to Mississippi State next weekend. The three-game series is slated to start on Friday at 6:30 P.M. at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville, Mississippi.