Inspired Seibert Helps Hogs Complete Sweep

FAYETTEVILLE -- An inspired performance by pitcher Shaun Seibert coupled with three home runs led to an 11-2 win against Auburn in Saturday's regular season finale in front of 8,107 in Baum Stadium.

Seibert said he dedicated the game to his grandfather, Bob Rice, who died on Friday night. It resulted in the sophomore right-hander's best outing in a month and he said he felt his grandfather was watching over him on all 89 pitches, including 58 for strikes.

"That's what I said to myself the whole time," Seibert said. "It was a pretty tough night. It's tough knowing it happened, but that's part of life. He had been ill for awhile. It wasn't like an all-of-a-sudden thing.

"But it's still tough because we were pretty close."

Seibert headed home to the St. Louis area (he's from nearby Edwardsville, Ill.) after the game and will attend the funeral before joining the team at this week's Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, Ala.

Arkansas (38-17, 18-12 in SEC play) will be the No. 4 seed and play fifth-seeded Ole Miss at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Saturday's win completed a three-game sweep of Auburn (22-34, 9-21), which ended the season with a 10-game losing streak.

Hogs coach Dave Van Horn said the key was jumping on the downtrodden Tigers early in each game.

"That's what you have to do when you're facing a team that's struggling," Van Horn said. "They know that this is going to be it for them and they know that they can't make the tournament. If you can get on them early and kind of keep them down, you don't let them get any momentum.

"If they got momentum, that dugout would have been all fired up and talking about 'Hey, let's go out on a high note and win the series or win a game or whatever.'

"But we never really gave them a chance to do that. That was huge."

Seibert (4-0) struck out the leadoff batter in all five innings he pitched and matched a career high with seven strikeouts while walking two. His velocity improved in the latter innings which was impressive considering he'd averaged just 3 1/3 innings in each of his previous three starts.

Seibert gave up only one run in the second inning. Tyler Johnstone's RBI single came after a pitch was called a ball that everybody in the Hogs' dugout believed was a strike.

Van Horn even got a warning from home plate umpire Darrel Arnold for complaining about the call.

"I thought he did a pretty good job with a heavy heart," Van Horn said. "I was a little disappointed in that one inning where they scored the run because we should have been out of there. The ump said it was low, but no way was it low. (Catcher) Brian (Walker) said it was there. That would have been a big pitch for him.

"But I think (Seibert) gained some confidence."

Confidence has been growing for Arkansas' offense as well as it managed its third straight game with 11 or more hits. The biggest of Saturday's 12 hits were a two-run homer off the scoreboard by Walker in the second inning and back-to-back solo homers by Danny Hamblin and David Hum in the third inning.

With the bases loaded in the fourth, Jake Dugger two-hopped a hard grounder up the middle that deflected off second baseman Johnstone's glove into shallow left center field, allowing three runs to score.

"We're really starting to gel offensively," Dugger said. "We're coming together and you can feel it. Everybody made contributions this weekend in all the games, so we feel like we're coming together at the right time.

"It's not how you start, it's how you finish and we feel like we're ready to make a run in the postseason."

Dugger picked up his fourth RBI of the game when he worked a bases-loaded walk in the fifth. It gave the Razorbacks a 10-1 lead and allowed Van Horn to experiment with relievers late while also giving Walker a breather behind the plate.

"The game was really in hand from the fifth inning on," Van Horn said. "That gave us a chance to get some guys some work and rest our catcher. Really, just try to get through the game without getting anybody hurt and now we can focus on the third phase of the season.

"There's preseason, there's SEC play and this is the fun part that we're really looking forward to."

Josh Smith made his first appearance of the season after having back surgery and struck out the side in the sixth. Chris Rhoads and James Gilbert pitched a scoreless seventh and ninth inning, respectively.

In the eighth, senior reliever Trey Holloway debuted a submarine style delivery and used it to strike out two batters while also allowing a run on three hits.

"I thought he did a great job when he didn't try to throw the ball too hard," Van Horn said. "There's not a lot of submarine left-handers that these kids have seen. You look in the SEC and there's not one. I think it's difficult for them to adjust to that.

"If we make a play or two behind him, he really does a great job. I think he can help (in the postseason)."

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