It was a rough start to the SEC slate for Auburn baseball, as the No. 18 Tigers suffered their first sweep of the season against No. 3 Arkansas in Fayetteville. Auburn was outscored 21-5, including one shutout.
All three losses were by five or more runs, including Friday’s series-opening 7-2 loss to the Razorbacks. Auburn jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind a Kason Howell home run in the third and another run coming in the fourth, but the Razorbacks responded with five runs in the bottom of the fourth.
“We hung in there for a little while, but they were opportunistic both times,” said Auburn head coach Butch Thompson. “The two pressure points, they got their stuff done. They walked us five times, but we didn’t do it together or do it at that moment to get that one big hit like they did. That was a huge difference in the ballgame today.”
Arkansas took the lead behind two runs scored via walks, and then a three-run homer broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth. The Razorbacks shut Auburn down for the remaining innings while adding two more runs of their own.
Saturday’s contest was more of the same, and while the margin, 9-3, was different, it was the same end result for the Tigers who just did not have an answer for the Razorbacks.
“The difference in the two games here is we just have not played at game time,” Thompson said. “Arkansas is playing at game time. At game time, we are not playing defense, pitching, or getting the barrel in position. That’s the difference in the ballgame.”
The Razorbacks held a 5-1 through two innings, and while a solo home run from Bryson Ware in the fourth inning cut into the lead, Arkansas added four more in the fifth and the game was all but officially decided.
Ware added another home run in the sixth, and he was responsible for all three of Auburn’s runs.
Auburn’s defense bounced back on Sunday, holding Arkansas to five runs, but the Tigers were unable to score, suffering a series-ending 5-0 defeat.
“Kind of similar early on to the first two games, except we steadied ourselves,” Thompson said. “We played much better today but got the same outcome.”
The rally on defense was led by sophomore reliever Will Cannon, who held the Razorbacks scoreless in 4 and 2/3 innings, stepping in after Arkansas scored all five runs in the third and fourth innings.
“Will Cannon did an amazing job and just gave us chance after chance,” Thompson said. “If you come into Arkansas and score five runs on the weekend, it’s going to be a challenging weekend.”
Thompson and his Tigers (13-6-1, 0-3 SEC) will return to action this week for a short trip to Montgomery and a matchup with South Alabama (8-12, 0-3 SBC) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CT.
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