Welker Can't Get Past The 5th For 2nd Start

AUBURN, Ala. -- For the second straight Saturday, Arkansas handed Duke Welker a hefty lead early in the game. And for the second straight Saturday, the right-hander didn't do anything productive with it.

Welker lasted just four innings Saturday, giving up five runs on five hits and striking out just one in an 11-9 loss to Auburn at Plainsman Park. "He didn't have good stuff," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He was behind (in the count) all the time, and he couldn't finish anybody off. That was disappointing. We go out and spot him runs two Saturdays in a row, and he doesn't pitch out of the fifth inning." Welker's struggles didn't begin immediately. He got off to a phenomenal start. The 6-foot-5 junior retired the first six batters he faced on just 18 pitches. But as Arkansas built an early lead, Welker was forced to sit on the bench longer than pitchers normally do between innings. The Hogs scored two runs in the first inning, three in the second and one in the third. The rust showed a bit in the third. Welker began the inning by throwing six straight balls. He walked Robert Brooks, who then scored on Ross Smith's double into the left field corner. Smith scored on a hard-hit single by Bruce Edwards. Auburn then scored two more runs in the fourth, and Welker was pulled in favor of Brian McLelland after walking Auburn's leadoff batter in the fifth. Van Horn said Welker had the option of staying warm but didn't utilize it. "There's no excuses for it," Van Horn said. "We have a batting cage behind (the dugout), and we told him to go in there and throw. It's up to him to do what he's got to do." Poor Middle Relief Three relievers received a chance to bail Arkansas out of the seventh inning. Neither McLelland, Chris Rhoads nor Travis Hill could do so. The Tigers sent 10 batters to the plate in the seventh. All three batters McLelland faced reached base. Rhoads, a senior, then relieved him and promptly gave up two doubles and a walk while getting just one out. The second double, a two-out hit by Auburn's Robert Brooks, knocked in two runners and tied the game at 9. Van Horn then summoned Travis Hill, who gave up an infield single and watched Auburn take the lead on Ben Tschepikow's throwing error. "The middle relief pitching was not good," Van Horn said. "Rhoads has to step it up. We keep giving it to a senior, and we're going to go to someone else the next time out. That's the most disappointing thing, that some of the older guys on the mound really struggled." Rhoads left Plainsman Park with his head held high, determined to improve, even after being chewed out by Van Horn following the game. "I just didn't spot some pitches, and I left them up," Rhoads said. "I'm just going to come out strong (today), mentally strong, and I'll be ready if I get a chance to get in." Short Hops Auburn coach Tom Slater was ejected in the sixth inning after McLelland picked Brooks off first base. First, Auburn first base coach Karl Nonemaker got in the face of umpire Bryan Donnelly. Then, Slater sprinted over, pushed Nonemaker out of the way and began screaming at Donnelly. About two minutes later, after some animated yelling by Slater, Donnelly ejected him. ... Arkansas nearly set a season-high with 14 runners left on base. The Razorbacks stranded 16 runners in a 7-5 loss at Kentucky on March 17. ... Jake Dugger walked four times, tying Arkansas' career record with 156.

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