Hogs Want to Play with "Chip" after 0-3 SEC Start

Arkansas will try to play with a chip on its shoulder after starting 0-3 in SEC play. The Hogs play host to Auburn in a three-game set this weekend.

After losing three straight at South Carolina last weekend, Arkansas will try to find an edge for a home series this weekend.

"We want to come out with a chip on our shoulders and hand it to Auburn," said Luke Bonfield, the Hogs' sophomore outfielder.

The obvious question for Bonfield concerned the huge strikeout totals for the weekend by the Arkansas hitters. Carolina pitchers set down 33 batters on strikes, many of them on called strike three. Bonfield had six strikeouts. Bonfield didn't wait for the question to be asked.

"We have to be more aggressive," Bonfield said. "The next series, we have to be more aggressive. We have to hunt fast balls. I attribute all of the strikeouts to not being aggressive."

Carson Shaddy wasn't lacking an aggressive approach. The sophomore third baseman had only one strikeout on the weekend and went 4 for 11. He leads the team with a .387 batting average. He said hitting coach Tony Vitello addressed the strikeouts at a team meeting Wednesday.

"He told us that he knows strikeouts are a part of the game," Shaddy said. "But we have to fight our butts off with two strikes. I think you will see a better approach against Auburn."

The Hogs (15-6, 0-3) enter at No. 18 in the coaches poll, down five spots from last week. Auburn (11-10, 1-2) won one of three against Texas A&M last weekend. Game time Friday is 6:30 p.m. Game two is set for 6 p.m. Saturday. Sunday's starting time is 1 p.m.

The Tigers feature a cast of heavy hitting lefthanders under new coach Butch Thompson. They boast a .327 batting average.

Arkansas will open with Dominic Taccolini again Friday night. Taccolini (3-1) had been superb until the SEC opener when Carolina scored eight in the first two innings. It was a matter of his sinker ball staying up.

"I just left too many pitches up," he said. "They hammered it. They had a lot of lefthanders and they were right on top of the plate. I tried to go away and it was the perfect storm."

Pitching coach Dave Jorn corrected that after the second inning.

"My stuff was good," Taccolini said. "I just left it up and I got rattled. Coach Jorn told me I had to work inside and I did after the first couple of innings."

There was work in the bullpen on just those situations.

"My Tuesday bullpen, I worked inside," Taccolini said. "We had some dummies out there and everyone worked against them.

"We know Auburn has a lot of lefthanders. We have to pitch inside. Coach Jorn talks about making them uncomfortable. That's always our goal."

The 0-3 SEC start is not something the Hogs seemed worried about, because they've been there before. They started 1-5 last year.

"We talked about that," Shaddy said. "It really is only one series. We know everyone can play, including us. We are last place and we'll start to chip away."

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