Photo by Jason Caldwell

Missed Opportunities Cost Auburn In 3-2 Loss At Arkansas In Series Opener

Auburn left 14 runners on base in Friday's 3-2 loss at Arkansas.

Fayetteville, Ark.--An Auburn offense that had carried the Tigers the last two weeks came up empty time and time again on Friday night as Coach Butch Thompson's team left 14 on base in a 3-2 loss to Arkansas. Tied at two in the ninth the Razorbacks got three consecutive hits to hand the Tigers their sixth one-run loss of the season.

The Auburn Tigers fall to 11-11 on the year and 1-3 in SEC play while Arkansas improves to 17-5 and gets its first conference win of the season with the victory. After scoring so many runs in the previous two weeks, Auburn’s offense just couldn’t capitalize in the loss and Thompson said they’ll just come back to the park on Saturday and try to finish it off.

“We’ll just keep playing,” Thompson said. “Maybe we cashed in a lot of stuff last weekend and on Tuesday, and sometimes when you play a game like this if you don’t get all the runs knocked in maybe you don’t think you’re not trying as hard. I thought their last guy got it going for them a little bit. We’ll just come back out here and play another ballgame.”

Auburn’s struggles with runners on base kept starter Justin Camp from coasting to a victory as the senior pitched very well before running out of gas in the bottom of the sixth. Allowing just four hits the first five innings, Camp gave up a one-out walk and back-to-back hits to give up his only two runs of the game in a no-decision.

Coming out of the pen Gabe Klobosits was solid as well for the Tigers, pitching two and two/thirds hitless innings before Arkansas finally got to him in the ninth inning for the walkoff victory.

It happened innocently enough as Jake Arledge reached on an infield single to start the ninth for the Razorbacks to bring Rick Nomura to the plate. Trying to get a bunt down, Nomura got two strikes and they took the bunt off. His double down the right field line put runners on second and third with no outs and when Luke Bonfield singled into the outfield that was the game.

At the plate Jordan Ebert, Niko Buentello and Blake Logan all had two hits for the Tigers, but the top of the order uncharacteristically quiet as Anfernee Grier went 0-2 to end his 22-game hitting streak while Josh Palacios went 0-5 after entering the game as one of the hottest hitters in the country.

The Tigers did a great job of putting pitches in Arkansas starting pitcher Dominic Taccolini early in the game, but couldn’t get anything across and that would be the story of the night. In the first inning Ebert singled with two outs and Buentello followed with a walk to bring Logan to the plate. Continuing his hot streak, Logan singled sharply to right field to load the bases, but a Daniel Robert groundout ended the inning.

In the second inning Auburn left two more runners on base before finally breaking through in the third. Again it was Ebert that got it started for the Tigers with a single and when Buentello singled as well it gave Logan a chance to do some damage. Getting a pitch to hit, Logan ripped a double to left to put Auburn on the board.

The fourth consecutive hit, this one a single by Robert, made it 2-0 Tigers and they had all the momentum as Arkansas made a pitching change to bring on James Teague. He quickly walked Melvin Gray to load the bases with nobody out and give Auburn a chance to break the game open, but a Kyler Deese liner on the infield and a Cody Nulph ground ball for a double play ended the threat.

With Camp still pitching well the Tigers again got runners on base in the fourth as Josh Palacios reached on a fielder’s choice with one out, but was thrown out trying to steal second. That proved to be big as Ebert and Buentello both walked to give Auburn another two-out opportunity, but Logan popped out to end the inning with Auburn still clinging to a 2-0 lead.

The Tigers had one more opportunity to break the game open in the fifth as Deese and Nulph singled with two outs to again put Auburn’s offense in business. A Grier walk again loaded the bases for the Tigers to bring Palacios to the plate, but his tough night continued as he struck out to keep the frustration level high.

Arkansas got a pair of hits in the fifth before Camp wiggled his way out of the jam, but it was a sign of things to come in the sixth as the Razorbacks finally got on the board with a pair of runs to tie the game. Like things happen so often, the trouble started with a walk for Camp.

Not walking a batter the first five innings, Camp walked Carson Shaddy to give Arkansas some life and they would make the Tigers pay. Cullen Gassaway followed with a ringing double to easily score Shaddy and break up the shutout for Camp. When Rick Nomura made it two hits in a row with a single to score Arledge the game was tied and Camp’s day was done.

Coming on in a key situation, Klobosits got a quick double play to get out of the jam and followed that up with scoreless innings in both the seventh and eighth to keep the Tigers in the game. That was needed because Arkansas reliever Josh Alberius was dominant out of the pen for the Razorbacks. Over the eighth and ninth innings he struck out five straight Auburn batters to keep the game tied and give the Razorbacks a chance to win it late.

The Tigers will send freshman Casey Mize to the mound on Saturday to face sophomore Keaton McKinney for the Razorbacks. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

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