Auburn improves to 13-6 overall and 1-1 in SEC play while Arkansas falls to 15-3, 1-1 in league action. Coach John Pawlowski said with the offensive outburst and the pitching of starter Will Irvin it was a very good performance for his team.
"We accomplished our goal," Pawlowski said. "Our goal was to come out here and compete today and try to do everything we could possibly do to even the series up. We did that. I thought Will Irvin did a really good job. The ending wasn't as clean as we would have liked it but the bottom line is we found a way to win and now the series is even up going into Sunday."
Finishing with a pair of hits and the four RBI coming on one swing of the bat, Patterson again came up big for the Tigers against the Razorbacks. On Friday night he had a three-run double in a losing effort. He said coming back with a win on Saturday was important for this team.
"It was a tough one last night," Patterson said. "You just have to keep fighting. That's how this league is. You just have to bounce back. We know what we can do you just have to keep fighting through it. It was huge."
Auburn senior Kevin Patterson connects with a grand slam.
Auburn got a fantastic performance from starter Will Irvin. In his first weekend start of the year the junior college transfer allowed just two runs on seven hits in six innings for his third win of the season. Reliever Sean Ray allowed three runs on three hits and walked three in two and two/thirds innings while Zach Blatt finished things off by getting the final out.
Arkansas scored first in the top of the second inning thanks to a mental mistake from the Tigers. Leading off the inning Kyle Robinson singled over the head of Wes Gilmer into left field. Following a fly ball out to left field the Razorbacks decided to do a little running and sent Robinson from first. Auburn pitched out on the play however and had him dead at second. The only problem is nobody was covering the bag. It proved to be a huge play as Bo Bigham's two-out single scored Robinson to make it 1-0 Arkansas.
A pair of two-out doubles increased the Arkansas lead to two runs in the top of the third before the Tigers would break things open in the bottom of the fourth inning.
After struggling in the first three innings against Arkansas starter Brandon Moore, the Tigers finally found their stride in the fourth as Casey McElroy got things started with a single. It was his second hit of the game as he extended his hitting streak to 14 games. He finished with three hits on the day. After Dan Gamache was hit by a pitch Gilmer reached on a bunt single to load the bases with nobody out.
Back in the lineup for the second straight day, catcher Tony Caldwell singled to left field to score McElroy and put Auburn on the board. That brought Patterson to the plate. Facing the right-hander the senior jumped on a pitch early in the count and lined it just foul down the right field line. The next chance he got Patterson didn't miss as he hit one over the right field wall for the grand slam. It was his third homer of the season and it put the Tigers up 5-2.
"The pitch was a change up," Patterson said. "He threw me two of them in a row. I fouled the first one off and I figured I wasn't going to see a fastball. I just tried to stay on it. I was a little out in front of the first one but I got the second one."
They weren't done however as left fielder Brooks Beisner doubled down the third base line to continue Auburn's hot streak at the plate. That was all for Moore on the mound as Ryne Stanek came on in relief. Following a sacrifice bunt by Creede Simpson, senior Justin Hargett closed out the scoring for the inning with a squeeze bunt that scored Beisner.
Now leading 6-2 Irvin sat down the Razorbacks in order in the fifth and the Auburn offense picked up where it left off in the bottom of the inning. With Gilmer on first base and two outs after his leadoff walk, the Tigers got another walk to Beisner to bring Simpson to the plate. In an offensive funk the last two weeks the Auburn native came through in the clutch with a double to left field. The hit scored Gilmer and when Robinson bobbled the ball in left field pinch runner Jay Gonzalez scored to make it 8-2 Auburn going to the sixth.
The Tigers added another run in the seventh on a Simpson sacrifice fly to make it a seven-run lead. From there it was all up to Ray to finish things off. Coming on to start the seventh inning, the senior lasted until there were two outs in the ninth before ran out of gas. Arkansas scored three runs in the ninth before Blatt came in to record the final out of the game and earn his second save of the season.
At the plate McElroy and Patterson combined for five of Auburn's nine hits as Gilmer, Caldwell, Beisner and Simpson completed the day for the Tigers. Reynolds, Robinson and Bigham all had two hits for Arkansas.
Auburn will go for the series win on Sunday as the Tigers send junior Derek Varnadore to the mound. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Plainsman Park.