Out Of Character

AUBURN, Ala. -- Moments after Arkansas turned back Georgia 7-6 in 10 innings last Saturday, senior Danny Hamblin proclaimed, "This is how championships are won."

One week later, in an 11-9 loss at Auburn, the Razorbacks exhibited just how championships can be lost. No. 7 Arkansas led 6-0 after the top of the third inning and 9-5 after the top of the sixth Saturday at Plainsman Park. But the Razorbacks squandered numerous scoring chances, leaving 11 runners on base through six innings. They failed to complete several crucial defensive plays. And their bullpen struggled yet again, allowing five runs in the seventh as the Tigers claimed a lead they didn't relinquish. "It's a tough loss. I'm disappointed," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Really, it came down to two things. We didn't pitch good, and we didn't drive in enough runs. "I mean you score nine runs, and that should probably get you a win. But we ended up leaving a lot of people on base." The Hogs left 14 runners on the base paths, to be exact. Early on, Arkansas (34-12, 14-6) seemed intent on blowing out the Southeastern Conference Western Division's last-place team. The Hogs scored two runs in the first on consecutive RBI singles by Jeff Nutt and Casey Coon. They tallied three runs in the second on Brian Walker's two-run homer and Sean Jones' RBI double. But the Razorbacks scored just once in each of the next two innings, leaving the bases loaded in both frames and putting some anxious feelings in Van Horn's head. "That's a sign that starts making you nervous as a coach when you're leaving runners out there," Van Horn said. "We were scoring one run (in an inning) when realistically we should've scored a minimum of two or three. "We just needed one big hit in the middle of the game, and we might have put them away, but we didn't get it." The Tigers noticed. Their spirits were about as low as possible entering the bottom of the third. Their everyday Nos. 2, 3 and 5 hitters were out with injuries and they faced a six-run deficit. But they managed five runs in the next three innings off Arkansas starter Duke Welker, injecting some hope into the first-base dugout. "They definitely had some opportunities that they didn't capitalize," said Auburn's Chris Dennis, who earned the win with three innings of two-hit relief. "They had a chance to put us away. So when we started making that comeback, we went from 'We're going to chip away,' to 'We've got a chance,' to 'We're going to win.'" That's exactly the type of mindset that let Arkansas recover from Georgia's four-run ninth inning last Saturday and win in the 10th. Van Horn said he hoped the Hogs could discover it again, even after Brian McLelland, Chris Rhoads and Travis Hill each had a part in Auburn's five-run seventh. "We just have to move on," Van Horn said. "We can't ever forget about how this happened. But we have to forget about it for now."

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