Hogs Wheel and Deal To Series Win Over Auburn
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It didn’t take long before the No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks had its series victory over No. 13 Auburn well in hand. The Hogs scored eight runs over the first three innings and cruised to a 13-2 win over the Tigers, locking up its second conference series of the season.
Arkansas (23-9, 7-4 SEC) will have a chance to lock up its second sweep of the Southeastern Conference season tomorrow when it faces Auburn (23-9, 4-7 SEC) one more time for the series finale. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. and will be televised on the SEC Network.
The Razorback offense needed only two innings to drive Auburn starting pitcher Davis Daniel out of the game. The Hogs scored four runs on four hits off Daniel, three of those hits coming in the first inning. After the Tigers went to the bullpen, Arkansas plated four more in the third, two from singles, one from a sacrifice fly, and one from a bases-loaded walk to build up its 8-0 lead.
Eric Cole and Dominic Fletcher each turned in three-hit games to lead all Razorbacks. Cole drove in two, both off singles in the third and eighth innings. He, along with Luke Bonfield and Jordan McFarland each tallied two RBIs in the game, while Jax Biggers drove in three, but none on a base hit. Two sacrifice flies and a bases loaded walk gave Biggers his second highest RBI total in a game this year.
On the mound, lefty pitcher Kacey Murphy locked up his fourth victory of the year after working a strong seven innings with just two earned runs allowed, both off solo home runs. He scattered five hits and struck out a season-high seven batters on 105 pitches. Saturday’s start was Murphy’s fourth appearance this year that lasted six or more innings.
The Razorbacks totaled 17 hits in the game Saturday night, their fifth game this season of 15 or more and third in SEC play. Five different players recorded two or more hits, their most in a game since March 29 in the 6-4 win over No. 4 Ole Miss.
Bonfield’s two-hit performance was his first multi-hit performance since going 3-for-4 against No. 4 Kentucky on March 17. His two-RBI single in the first got the scoring started for the Hogs. He later doubled down the left field line in the sixth to start another rally that led to a three-run frame. His double was his eighth of the year, good for second on the team.
Along with Bonfield’s double, Grant Koch, Dominic Fletcher, and Carson Shaddy each had two-baggers in the game. It was the sixth time this year that Arkansas had totaled four or more doubles.
Arkansas was able to lock up the series with Auburn behind stellar pitching from Murphy, who has been steady throughout the year, allowing no more than three earned runs in any appearance. Including tonight, the Rogers, Arkansas native has struck out 29 batters over 34.2 innings and has whittled his ERA down to 2.31.
With Murphy’s ERA and Blaine Knight’s 1.93 ERA, the Hogs are the only team in the SEC with two pitchers holding an ERA at 2.35 or lower.
Junior Barrett Loseke finished off the game’s final two innings, allowing just one hit and striking out one in his ninth appearance of the year. Loseke has yet to allow more than two earned runs in a single outing this year.
“Kacey wasn’t as sharp as he normally is. You can blame it on the cold weather or the temperature, but it was good that he battled through. For him to give us seven innings, that’s what we needed. He went out and did really well in the sixth and seventh. He’d tell you he’s been sharper. He didn’t really have command of his breaking ball, but he came up with some big pitches. He gave up a couple of big flies, but he pitches to contact. He’s not trying to strike too many out.” – Dave Van Horn on Kacey Murphy’s seven-inning performance
“It was real nice. We talked about that after the game and last night. We hadn’t won game two in a while, especially on an SEC weekend. We needed to find a way to win today and they came out and did it.” – Dave Van Horn on locking up a series victory before game three
“Long innings, it was pretty tough, but once you’re out there, you stay pretty warm. You’ve got to fight through it, that’s all. I worked through it and tried to shorten my stride a little bit and adjust like coach (Wes) Johnson was telling me, but I kind of went to the changeup as my primary off speed” – Kacey Murphy on pitching in cold weather
“I think it’s just confidence. It’s funny what gets you going. I think I hit a foul homerun at Ole Miss my second to last at-bat there and I kind of found my swing on that one and it wasn’t even a hit. Baseball’s a game where it comes and goes, you know you don’t have control of things. You can hit the ball hard and right at someone. I just stuck with my approach and preparation before games. I’ve been in this league for four years now. I know I’m a good hitter and everything and it would just come back eventually.” – Luke Bonfield on working through a slump in past weeks
The Razorbacks and Tigers will face off for the series finale on Sunday at Baum Stadium with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m. It will be televised on the SEC Network with Roy Philpott and Todd Walker calling the action.
Phil Elson and Bubba Carpenter will call the game on the radio, as usual, for the Razorback Sports Network from IMG.
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