Preseason darling Arkansas (35-18, 18-10 SEC) showed off two of the members of their top-notch pitching arsenal in a shutout win at Plainsman Park on Friday, setting up a huge Saturday game for Auburn (32-22, 12-17).It was the first SEC loss by a 1-0 score for Auburn since 2006.
The lone Arkansas run came when Dominic Ficociello singled home leadoff hitter Matt Vinson after Vinson took four balls from starter Michael O'Neal (8-3) to open the third.
Hog starter Ryne Stanek (7-2) allowed several baserunners, especially early, but never let the Tigers on the board in an impressive showing. Ten Tigers were left on base with two outs, and a runner was thrown at third, the furthest an Auburn baserunner made it around the horn. Dan Glevenyak flew out to center with two runners on ending the first, and fouled out to right in the third stranding two more. Ryan Tella was thrown out at third on a Mitchell Self single in the fourth, trying to grab an extra base with the Tigers already trailing. Blake Austin and Garrett Cooper each got two-out singles only to be stranded in the second and fifth frames. The sixth was Auburn's first without a baserunner, but the Tigers got another two-out hit in the seventh through a Cullen Wacker double. He was, however, stranded and the Razorbacks again escaped any problems.
Stanek finally exited with two outs in the eighth, only after issuing his fourth walk - the second of the inning. Jalen Beeks finished the inning with a Ryan Tella foul pop up to third. Colby Suggs saved his 11th game of the season by striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth, getting two called strike threes. Five of Sugg's last six strikes were called, including one fairly surprising high strike on the last pitch to Damek Tomscha.
O'Neal pitched well enough for Auburn to win on most other nights, but his seven innings of one-run ball tonight were not good enough. He pitched into the eighth, allowing just four hits and the one run, and left after a leadoff walk for Reid Carter. Carter loaded the bases but got out of the jam and left after a leadoff single in the ninth. Chase Williamson and Trey Cochran-Gill teamed up to finish the ninth.
Tomorrow afternoon at 1:00, the Tigers, who already know they will be the ten-seed next week in Hoover, will potentially be playing for their postseason chances and one last home series win.