Gardner limited the Tigers to just five hits as the Razorbacks won a game they had to win or their season would be finished. "Gardner stepped up on the mound and gave them what they needed," Auburn coach Steve Renfroe said.
The victory clinched Arkansas a spot in the SEC Baseball Tournament as the eighth and final seed. The double-elimination event starts on Wednesday in Hoover, Ala., and runs through Sunday. Auburn clinched a berth in the tournament with a 7-3 victory over Arkansas on Saturday night.
The Tigers will be the fifth seed after South Carolina knocked off Georgia by a 4-2 score on Sunday to earn the No. 1 seed. Auburn, which finished the regular season at 15-15 in SEC play and 34-22 overall, will play fourth seed LSU at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at the Hoover Met. Auburn and Georgia have identical league records, but AU wins the tiebreaker because the Tigers won two of three games vs. the Bulldogs.
The Razorbacks scored two runs in the first inning on a fielder's choice and error as the Tigers attempted to turn a double play. A bad throw by second baseman Tug Hulett trying to turn two allowed Scott Bridges to score behind Kirk McConnell.
Auburn cut the lead in half in the fifth inning. Jonathan Schuerholz doubled and moved to third base on a groundout and scored from there on a wild pitch.
Jonathan Schuerholz had two of Auburn's five hits.
The home team responded with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on a two-out bloop single by Ryan Fox. Tiger starting pitcher Eric Brandon got the hook after walking the next batter and Mike Mueller ended the threat.
Mueller pitched into the seventh inning, being replaced by Arnold Hughey, who retired the next three batters to keep the Tigers in striking range. Muller pitched 1 12 inning while Hughey did not allow a hit in two innings of work.
Freshman pitcher Arnold Hughey
While the Auburn bullpen did its job, the hitters weren't able to score any more runs on a day when the Tigers were hitting the ball on the nose but were not being rewarded with a lot of base hits. "Arkansas was making plays that were unbelievable," Renfroe said.
Eric Brandon got the start for the Tigers. He pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed seven hits and four earned runs to fall to 3-3 for the season. Gardner improved his record to 3-2.
Jonathan Schuherholz had two hits for the Tigers while Sean Gamble, Trent Pratt and Matt Grooms, who replaced Doug Vines in right field, each had one hit.
Sophomore right-hander Colby Paxton is expected to start for the Tigers in the opening game of the double-elimination SEC Tournament even though he struggled on Friday night in a 18-5 loss to Arkansas.
Colby Paxton will likely get the assignment of cooling off a hot LSU team.
Arkansas 18, Auburn 5
South Carolina 11, Georgia 9
(Other games postponed due to rain.)
Auburn 7, Arkansas 3 (10 innings)
South Carolina 12, Georgia 4
LSU 3, Alabama 0 and LSU 6, Alabama 6
Florida 14, Kentucky 4 and Florida 18, Kentucky 6
Mississippi State 12, Ole Miss 2 and Mississippi State 14, Ole Miss 5.
Tennessee 5, Vanderbilt 4 and Vanderbilt 7, Tennessee 5
Arkansas 4, Auburn 1
South Carolina 4, Georgia 2
Mississippi State 10, Ole Miss 5
Tennessee 10, Vandy 9
LSU 5, Alabama 1
Florida 5, Kentucky 4
Alabama 20-10, 44-12
LSU 19-10, 38-17
Auburn 15-15, 34-22
Mississippi State 14-15, 33-22-1
Arkansas 13-14, 30-24
Ole Miss 14-16, 37-19
South Carolina 21-8, 44-12
Florida 20-10, 40-15
Georgia 15-15, 30-26
Tennessee 12-18, 27-28
Vanderbilt 7-21, 24-27
Kentucky 6-24, 17-36
Wednesday, May 22:
Game One--#3 Florida vs. #6 Georgia at 10 a.m.
Game Two--#2 Alabama vs. #7 Mississippi State at 1 p.m.
Game Three--#4 LSU vs. #5 Auburn at 5 p.m. (Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast television coverage)
Game Four--#1 South Carolina vs. #8 Arkansas at 8 p.m.
Thursday, May 23:
Game Five--10 a.m., Loser Game One vs. Loser Game Two
Game Six--1 p.m. Loser Game Three vs. Loser Game Four
Game Seven--5 p.m. Winner Game One vs. Winner Game Two
Game Eight--8 p.m. Winner Game Three vs. Winner Game Four
Friday, May 24:
Game Nine--3 p.m. Winner Game Five vs. Loser Game Seven
Game 10--6 p.m. Winner Game Six vs. Loser Game Eight
Saturday, May 25:
Game 11--10 a.m. Winner Game Seven vs. Winner Game Nine
Game 12--1:30 p.m. Winner Game Eight vs. Winner Game 10
Game 13--5 p.m. Winner Game 11 vs. Loser Game 12
(Will not be played if both bracket winners are undefeated) Game 14--8:30 p.m. Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 12 (Will not be played if both bracket winners are undefeated)
Sunday, May 26:
Game 15--3 p.m. Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 14 for championship.
(Games will be televised live on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast or SEC-TV.)