Hogs Split with Tigers

Arkansas won the opener Saturday with Tyler Spoon's walk-off hit in the 10th inning, but Auburn rolled in the nightcap to split the doubleheader and win the series.

Tyler Spoon delivered a bases loaded gap line drive in the 10th inning to lead Arkansas past Auburn, 4-3, Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader, the first walk-off win of the year. Auburn won the nightcap, 7-2, to take the series.

In the opener, the No. 24 Razorbacks (28-18, 10-11) tied it on Jake Wise's RBI single in the eighth. Then, after leaving two runners stranded in the ninth, won it on Spoon's line drive over the right fielder's head.

Attendance was 10,217, the sixth highest in Baum Stadium history. Tickets sold set a record with 11,742.



Auburn (25-20, 9-12) took two of three in the SEC series. The Tigers won the opener Friday night, 2-1. The Hogs will play their final nonconference game of the regular season Tuesday afternoon at Missouri State before traveling to Ole Miss on the weekend.

In the nightcap Saturday, Arkansas starter Chris Oliver (5-4) could not find his control while Auburn lefty Michael O'Neal (3-4) cruised. O'Neal pitched eight innings, throwing a career-high 129 pitches, 84 for strikes. He walked only two. Oliver walked five and hit one batter in four innings and four of them scored.

Auburn broke on top, 7-0, after four innings. The Hogs -- pounding fly ball out after fly ball out into a 25 mph wind -- only answer came on Blake Baxendale's two-run double in the sixth.

"The first game, it was a great win for our team," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "It was our first extra inning game and first walk-off. We had a lot of momentum after Jake's hit to tie it and Tyler's big hit.

"I figured we'd win the second game with the way the first one ended. But give credit to Auburn and their starter. He filled up the strike zone.

"The wind was really blowing in. There was one home run and there should have been about eight. (Brian) Anderson should have had three, (Eric) Fisher should have had two. Their catcher had one and should have had three."

But the wind was blowing in and Oliver could not find the strike zone.

"We had six free passes, had a pickoff thrown away (by Oliver) and a botched double steal. You can't get behind with the wind blowing in. You can't walk people in this league. Beyond that, I don't even want to comment on Oliver."

In the opener, Eric Fisher led off the 10th with a double. Josh Alberius singled, then Wise was intentionally walked. Michael Bernal grounded into a force play at home, to retire Fisher. Then, Spoon hit the first pitch into the alley to make a loser out of reliever Terrance Dedrick.

"Tyler stayed inside and drove that pitch into the wind," Van Horn said. "We knew as soon as he hit it that it was at least a sac fly, but he got it over the outfielder. He did a great job of going up there and hunting a good pitch."

Michael Gunn (2-1) got the victory by recording the final out in the Auburn 10th, after 3 1/3 hitless innings of relief from Jacob Stone. Jalen Beeks gave up three runs, two of them earned. He threw 100 pitches before leaving with one out in the sixth.

The Hogs jumped to a 1-0 lead in the second when Fisher doubled, moved up on an infield out and scored on Wise's sacrifice fly. It went to 2-0 in the third when Spoon walked, Joe Serrano singled and Blake Baxendale singled to right.

Auburn answered with a single run in the fourth, on a walk and two singles. The Tigers took the lead in the sixth with two runs, the last on a Bobby Wernes throwing error.

Spoon praised Wise for the clutch hit in the eighth.

"I wouldn't have been in that situation except for Jake," Spoon said. "It was easy for me. Everyone will tell you that to hit with the bases loaded and one out, all you do is try to elevate it. Things hadn't gone the way I wanted this week but I will take that and get one for my team."

Serrano said the nightcap was about too many fly balls.

"Their pitcher had a two-seam fast ball and was locating it," he said. "We were putting the ball into the air and it's going to be hard to get the ball out with that kind of wind blowing in. Plenty of them would have been home runs if not for the wind, but everyone knows that Baum is not hitter friendly with that kind of wind. You have to put it on the ground on a day like this and play small ball."



Jalen Beeks delivers against Auburn.



Blake Baxendale had a two-run double in the nightcap.



Brian Anderson completes a double play.

Photos by Jason Ivester, Hawgs Illustrated

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