Auburn Fan Doesn't Have Team To Cheer

HOOVER, Ala. -- Die-hard Auburn fan T.F. Hartley of nearby Pelham, Ala., celebrated his 77th birthday last Saturday with mixed emotions."Yeah, it was a pretty good birthday but my team got beat by Arkansas," Hartley said.

"That was the only bad part about it."

Last Saturday, the Razorbacks beat the Tigers 10-5 en route to sweeping them in Baum Stadium.

"I listened on the radio," Hartley said. "It didn't sound to good, but I understand Arkansas has a pretty good team.

"We didn't do to good in baseball this year."

That still didn't stop Hartley from showing up for the first day of the annual Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover Metropolitan Stadium on Wednesday.

"My team didn't make it," he said. "That's OK. I love watching good baseball. That's what I'm doing here tonight.

"I think the fans are a big part of it."

And there was plenty of them for the first day of the tournament. For example, there were 4,933 fans who showed up to watch Vanderbilt play Georgia in a game which started at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

In the first night game Wednesday, Alabama and LSU played in front of almost a full house.

"A couple of years ago, Alabama and Auburn didn't even make the tournament," Hartley said. "Still, there was a lot of fans here. This town is a baseball town. They really support it.

"That's for sure."

Hartley came to the game with his son-in-law Wayne Watwood and grandson, Jeremy Watwood.

"My son-in-law is a big 'Bama fan," Hartley said. "Imagine that. I'm big Auburn fan, he's a big Alabama fan.

"I told my daughter, she married badly."

Hogs Catcher Remembered

Prior to playing Arkansas late Wednesday night, Arkansas catcher Brian Walker was greeted with a round of loud boos from Ole Miss fans.

It was Walker who was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the second game of the Arkansas-Ole Miss series in Oxford, Miss., on May 13.

After the ejection, Walker slammed his helmet into the crowd as he walked back toward the Arkansas dugout.

Oh by the way, Arkansas lost the game 7-3.

That trend of booing and heckling continued as Walker walked up the plate for his at-bat in the second inning.

Walker swung and missed on the first pitch he saw. That, of course, brought more negative reaction from Rebels fans. He then was the victim of a called strike before he swung and missed again to end the inning.

A Day Of Upsets

Upsets were the norm during the first day of the tournament.

In the opener, No. 7 seed South Carolina beat No. 2 seed Kentucky 4-2. Then, No. 6 Vanderbilt beat No. 3 Georgia 9-4 and No. 8 seed LSU beat top-seeded Alabama 4-3.

A Look Ahead

The NCAA Tournament begins next week as the regionals get into full swing. The first rounds of the tournament are scheduled for June 2-5 and Arkansas fans are hoping their team will be hosting in Baum Stadium.

The site selections will be announced Sunday and the pairings for the tournament will be announced Monday.

Arkansas last hosted a regional in 2004.

That year, Arkansas beat Wichita State and also hosted the Super Regional, beating Florida State twice to earn a trip the College World Series.

It was the Razorbacks' first trip to the CWS since 1989 and fifth in school history.

This year, the Super Regionals are scheduled for June 9-12. The College Word Series is scheduled for June 16-26 in Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.

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