FAYETTEVILLE - It's official: Arkansas is in a slump.
The word was whispered after losing two of three at Florida last weekend and confirmed when the No. 9 Razorbacks looked flat Sunday, falling 13-2 to Auburn in front of a large crowd at Baum Stadium. In each series Arkansas lost two straight after winning the Friday night game.
"The last two days it hasn't been the same team I've seen this year," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Intensity wasn't there and they got it put on them pretty good today and it was embarrassing.
"They just really outplayed us today; there's no doubt about it."
For the afternoon the Razorbacks struck out a season-high 13 times.
"He was throwing the fastball about four or five inches to the outside and the umpire was giving it to him," Van Horn said. "We tried to adjust to it and then it seemed we settled down a little bit. We had some good swings in the fourth, fifth and sixth but couldn't get much of anything."
It was a pitchers' duel early on as the two teams combined for just one hit in the first three innings. That changed when the potent Auburn bats awoke in the top of the fourth inning.
The Tigers (30-15, 12-9 SEC) led off the inning with a Trent Mumme solo home run off Arkansas starter Brett Eibner and later added two more on Casey McElroy's double to take a 3-0 lead.
That chased Eibner who went just 3 1/3 innings in his second consecutive loss. He had retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced but like a week earlier at Florida was solved in the fourth inning.
"We need to find us another starter that's more consistent or we just need to go in the game thinking the starter pitches a couple and just bullpen it the way we do in the midweek games," Van Horn said. "Right now we're getting good outings on Friday and then the other outings just seem to be short. It's three good innings and then the bottom falls out."
Trailing 4-0, Arkansas looked like it would make things interesting when Zack Cox and Andy Wilkins each hit solo home runs in the span of three at-bats in the sixth inning to pull within 4-2.
But the Razorbacks (35-10, 14-7) quickly reverted to their bad habits, popping up on two consecutive pitches to end the sixth inning rally and going down in order in the seventh inning.
All the while the Tigers continued their offensive prowess by scoring four runs in each the seventh and eighth innings off Razorback relievers Jordan Pratt, Mike Bolsinger and Geoffrey Davenport to take a 12-2 lead.
The Tigers added another in the ninth with a leadoff home run by Ryan Jenkins off Jason Fuqua to make it 13-2.
The SEC leaders in home runs entering the weekend, Auburn hit three more home runs Sunday and a total of eight for the weekend.
The overall SEC leader in wins just two weeks ago, Arkansas will take this week off for final exams before heading to Ole Miss next weekend in a match-up of the SEC West's top two teams.
"We've just got to keep trucking," said Cox, who finished 3-for-4 and a triple short of hitting for the cycle. "It happens in baseball; you hit little dry spells and slumps but it's just part of the game. We've got to keep hacking.
"It's not fun getting beat 13-2; I'll tell you that. I don't like losing whether it's 2-1 or 20-1 but we've got to keep playing and get ready for Ole Miss."