Clete Thomas became the first Auburn player to hit for the cycle in a conference game, but the…
Hogs Hammer Out 8-6 Win
Sunday's win became even more important considering the controversy of the past week when seniors Scott Bridges and Casey Rowlett -- the team's top two hitters -- were suspended indefinitely last Tuesday for violations of team policy.
And Arkansas' hitters responded to the challenge early.
"We jumped all over their starter (Josh Blake) and they didn't even bring him back in the second inning," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We just told the guys to be aggressive. Due to the situation, this became our most important game mentally, just for all that's gone on."
The Hogs (22-6 overall, 4-5 in Southeastern Conference play) equaled their combined hit total (9) from the first two games by the fifth inning and ended the day with 12 hits, which equalled their SEC high for the season. They had at least one hit in all but one inning on Sunday.
Clete Thomas came out swinging as well and became only the second Auburn player in school history to hit for the cycle. He was 5 for 6 with three runs and an RBI, but Hogs reliever Lee Land got him to pop out to right to end the game with the tying run on first.
"We haven't been able to get Thomas out all weekend," Van Horn said. "Coach (Dave Jorn) went to the mound and said, ‘We've thrown everything at him, so we're just going to throw fastballs and charge him.' And that's how we got him because we jammed him.
"We knew we were taking a little bit of a chance, but it worked out."
In the first, Arkansas batted around and scored five runs. Danny Hamblin's two-run single up the middle and Clay Goodwin's two-run double to right-center field accounted for the most damage.
It ended Blake's outing after just one inning.
"Josh is not a strikeout pitcher," said Auburn coach Tom Slater. "He's a contact guy, so we've got to be ready to make plays. Unfortunately in the first, we weren't ready to play and it really hurt us because they were able to get a five-spot there."
Auburn scored a run in the bottom of the first when Thomas tripled and scored on Karl Amonite's double down the right-field line.
Blake Parker led off the third with a solo homer over the high green wall in left. His fifth homer gave the Hogs a short-lived 6-1 lead as the Tigers put up four runs in the bottom of the inning to make it 6-5. Joey Huskins, who entered Sunday with a .171 batting average, had the big hit in the inning with a two-run single up the middle.
Arkansas added another run in the sixth when Goodwin reached on an error and was driven in by Brian Walker on a fielder's choice. Auburn answered with a solo homer by Thomas in the bottom of the inning.
Jake Dugger, who was 1 for his last 12 and started Sunday on the bench, hammered a pinch-hit solo homer on the first pitch he saw to lead off the seventh which created the final margin.
"He gets a first pitch fastball and he just drove out of the park," Van Horn said. "That was a big insurance run for us."
Arkansas starter Shaun Seibert struggled with command of his breaking ball and was relieved with one out in the third inning. The Hogs then got some superb middle relief from Daryl Maday and Land came on at the start of the fifth to help complete the victory.
Maday recorded the win after scattering no runs on two hits in 2 2/3 innings while Land picked up his second save by giving up just one run on six hits in the final four innings.
"They did a nice job," Van Horn said. "We go six innings with them only scoring one run and that was huge.
"Overall, this was a big win for us ... we really needed it."
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