Todd Shuts Down Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. — Somehow, Jess Todd held Auburn to one run through four innings Sunday. Todd didn't really know how. He pitched behind the count. He couldn't keep his weight on his back leg. He served up fastballs right down the middle.

Yet, four innings into Arkansas' 8-1 victory over Auburn, Todd had only given up the one run.

"My teammates were helping me out so much," Todd said. "I was pitching from behind so much that I just had to give them a chance to hit.

"Luckily, they got themselves out."

Two stellar defensive plays let Todd get into a groove

Center fielder Jake Dugger and third baseman Logan Forsythe each turned double plays with athletic dives, and Todd went on to cruise to his second consecutive complete game.

The 6-foot junior college transfer from Navarro (Texas) College improved to 6-2 this season by allowing just six hits and striking out eight.

Seven of those strikeouts came after the fourth inning. He struck out the side in the fifth to spark his finish.

"Finally, in the fifth inning, I started to stay on my back leg more," Todd said. "I kept the ball down and threw more strikes."

The 213-pound right-hander has now turned in three consecutive quality starts. Two weekends ago against Florida, Todd struck out 10 in five innings of a no-decision. Last Sunday at Georgia, Todd struck out seven in his first career complete game.

Arkansas catcher Brian Walker wasn't surprised by Todd's gritty effort. The 113-pitch effort had Van Horn saying there was a "95 percent chance" that Todd would start next Saturday, instead of Sunday.

"We expect that every time," Walker said. "Jess is a bulldog. He's a competitor. And I think he loves having the big game on his shoulders."

Left On Base

Even though they scored 29 runs in their weekend series at Auburn, the Razorbacks' run total could've been much higher.

Arkansas left at least one runner on base in 17 consecutive innings.

The unordinary streak started after Arkansas went down in order in the eighth inning of the series-opening game. The Hogs left one runner on base in the ninth inning of that 12-1 victory Friday night.

They then stranded 15 runners in their 11-9 loss Saturday, leaving at least one runner on base in every inning. They left at least one runner on base in each of the first seven innings Sunday before going down in order in the eighth. They left 14 runners on base in the 8-1 series-clinching victory.

But unlike Saturday, the stranded runners didn't end up hurting the Razorbacks in their 33rd victory this season.

"We have to have better at-bats with runners in scoring position," Walker said. "We can't get in two-strike counts, and that's what we've been doing. We need to be more aggressive early in the count."

Short Hops

The crowd at Plainsman Park observed a moment of silence for St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock. He played for Auburn's 1997 College World Series team and died in a car crash early Sunday morning ... Todd threw first-pitch strikes to only 16 of the 35 batters he faced and threw 113 pitches for the second straight start ... Dugger set Arkansas' school record with his 157th career walk ... Arkansas put 63 runners on base throughout the series.

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