Sullivan Shakes Off Sluggish State

AUBURN, Ala. -- After walking the first two batters he faced Saturday, Auburn pitcher Josh Sullivan turned in a solid performance during an 8-7 victory against Arkansas at Plainsman Park.

Sullivan, who attended Little Rock Central, allowed six earned runs on just four hits by walking three and striking out five in 5 2/3 innings. He threw 96 pitches and most were off-speed since he didn't have command of his fastball.

"A win is always great," Sullivan said. "As far as my performance, I wasn't too hot. The way I started out in the first inning kind of set the stage for how my whole day went.

"Luckily, I had my curve ball and some off-speed stuff. Otherwise, who knows what could have happened."

Entering Saturday, Sullivan was 4-2 with a 2.19 ERA in his last six starts. In those outings, he walked just five batters with 37 strikeouts in 41.2 innings.

Sullivan spent the past two seasons as a first baseman and also doubled as a backup quarterback on the Tigers' football team.

"Here's a kid that hadn't pitched really until this year," said Auburn coach Tom Slater. "For him to go out without his best stuff and limit the damage early after giving up two runs in the first was impressive, especially since he was able to pitch us into the sixth with a lead.

"That shows you that he's really grown up as a pitcher and that's in only about two months when you consider that his first career start was in the first weekend of February.

"In two months, he's become polished and I just love his mound presence."

Sullivan said he still stays in regular contact with Arkansas running back Dedrick Poole, who he handed the ball off to often at Little Rock Central.

Of course, beating Arkansas was special for Sullivan.

"It does mean a little bit more (to beat Arkansas)," Sullivan said. "It's exciting and it's fun, but an SEC win is an SEC win. We're trying to win the league and (Saturday), we took another step towards that goal."

Hard-Nosed Kid

Arkansas' Clint Arnold ran headfirst into the left-field wall while trying to make a leaping catch at the warning track on a double by Russell Dixon. At Plainsman Parks, there is no padding on the outfield wall.

Arnold started to get up, but quickly sat back down as trainers (both Auburn's and Arkansas') sprinted out to his aid. After getting a butterfly bandage on his bleeding nose, Arnold stayed in the game.

"We figured he would stay in the game because that's pretty much the kind of kid he is," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "He wasn't really dizzy or anything or we wouldn't have left him in. But he showed some toughness there and showed what he'll do for this team."

Deliberate Delivery

With Hogs starter Charley Boyce on the mound, Auburn was 4 for 4 on stolen bases attempts against Arkansas catcher Brian Walker.

"They stole them on Charley," Van Horn said. "He didn't do a real good job of holding people on and he was a little slow to the plate because he was trying so hard to throw strikes.

"But they even stole third base on him and that can't happen."

Walker had thrown out all five attempted base stealers in Southeastern Conference play entering Saturday. He's 11 for 20 on throwing out base runners this season.

Double Steal

Hogs leadoff man Craig Gentry stole two bases after reaching on a walk in the first inning. He entered the game with two stolen bases for the season.

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