FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas started slow but ended strong Friday night, overcoming a four-run deficit for a 9-4 win over Auburn at Baum Stadium.
The No. 9 Razorbacks (35-8, 14-5 SEC) were aided by a strong performance by freshman shortstop Matt Reynolds, who atoned for a pair of costly early inning errors with a trio of big offensive plays late.
The Tulsa native led off the fifth inning with a single and eventually scored on a Brett Eibner three-run home run. His RBI double tied the game an inning later and he scored on a suicide squeeze play to offer some run support in the eighth inning.
"He did a great job," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He got a big hit that tied the game up for us. We've had some injuries and he's still not 100 percent either (shin). I remember the game he kicked a couple of balls against Alabama when he also had a couple of big hits to help us come back and win that game. He's young and he'll keep getting better."
"I felt like I got stronger going on," Smyly said. "As a starting pitcher we get seven days rest so it's easy to keep going strong, especially when you're getting ground ball outs and double plays. Those always help."
Smyly gave up two runs on a Hunter Morris two-run single in the fourth inning that gave Auburn a 2-0 lead. Both of the Tigers' base-runners had reached on Razorback errors to begin the inning, the first on a ball that went through the legs of Reynolds and the second on a Smyly throwing error.
Auburn (28-15, 10-9) added two more on a two-run home run by Trent Mummey in the fifth inning to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead.
Arkansas bounced back in the bottom half of the fifth, however, starting with a Reynolds single to right field that chased Auburn starting pitcher Cory Luckie.
"We came in the bottom of the fifth and Coach Van Horn gave us a little talk about getting in on the plate and driving the ball the other way," Reynolds said. "I just got a good pitch and put it in the left center gap.
"It was a relief. Having two errors and giving up two runs because of it, it's just great to come back and produce for the team."
Zack Cox reached on a two-out single to bring up Eibner, who took a first-pitch breaking ball over the left field fence to pull the Razorbacks within 4-3. It was Eibner's 15th home run of the season, which leads the SEC.
"We had a couple of big hits and then Eibner had the big two-out home run that put us right back in the game," Van Horn said. "When the ball left the park the whole demeanor of our dugout took off and I felt confident we would win the game.
"We started off real slow. I thought their starting pitcher did a good job of mixing it up. We tried to work on it yesterday and then again in pregame. We knew his style of pitching by talking to other teams around the country, but you almost just have to see it yourself. I thought we made some adjustments there by hitting the ball the other way.
"We didn't play very good. We made some mistakes...but we overcame them."
After a Monk Kreder walk and James McCann single in the sixth, Reynolds came through with an RBI double to tie the game 4-4. The Razorbacks took the lead one batter later on a two-run single from Collin Kuhn to make it 6-4.
"It was huge for the team obviously and it was big for Matt's confidence; he seemed to bounce around a lot more," Van Horn said. "He's been swinging the bat really well in practice. He's a good hitter. I think the freshman-itis is over. He wants to play and he did a great job for us."
Reynolds reached on a hit-by-pitch in the ninth inning and scored on a suicide squeeze by Bo Bigham, who reached second on an error and scored on a Cox RBI single. James McCann had scored earlier in the inning on a passed ball. The Razorbacks scored three in the eighth inning to close the door on any Auburn comeback.