FAYETTEVILLE – If a team can seem a lethal 0-6, then the Auburn Tigers seem it.
Auburn, 11-11 overall, brings an 0-6 SEC record against the 20-3, 5-1 in the SEC Arkansas Razorbacks in tonight’s start of a 3-game SEC West series at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Game times are 6:30 tonight, 6:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday.
Auburn’s 0-6 SEC record reflects more dangerously looking at the scores of its two SEC 3-game sets against the Ole Miss Rebels, nationally ranked third to Arkansas’ second by D1-Baseball and third to Arkansas’ first by Baseball America, and the Kentucky Wildcats.
Opening SEC play against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., Auburn lost, 1-0 and 6-5 heartbreakers and a 19-11 slugfest.
Coming home last weekend to Plainsman Park in Auburn, Ala., the Tigers lost three close but not cigars, 8-6 in 10 innings, 7-6 and 6-4.
Assisted by former Major League outfielder/extraordinary pinch-hitter Gabe Gross, Coach Butch Thompson’s Tigers bat .309 as a team and have hit 32 home runs and knocked in 172 runs.
Seven Tigers bat .313 or better led by first baseman Tyler Miller, batting .420 with eight home runs and 32 RBI, and shortstop Ryan Bliss, .368, six home runs and 15 RBI.
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn, his Hogs on an 8-game winning streak including the last two games of its SEC home series with Alabama and last weekend’s sweep in Starkville, Miss. of then nationally No. 3 Mississippi State, said he’s warned his Hogs to look beyond’s Auburn, 11-11, 0-6 records.
“ Yeah, we’ve already discussed it as a team that it doesn’t matter what anybody’s record is right now,” Van Horn said. “You can’t judge them on what they’ve done in the SEC. You’ve got teams in our division Alabama and Auburn) that are 1-5 and 0-6 that are good. Really good.” Van Horn explained.
“Auburn statistically has the best numbers in the league,” Van Horn said. “At least they did for a while. They’re right up there. Two weeks ago we’re hearing that they’re the best offense in the SEC. You can throw the records out. It’s just another series and we need to find a way to win it. It’s just, we’re facing a team that’s kind of backed into a corner. They’re going to come fighting their way out. We’re gonna have to really play well.”
Van Horn emphasized Auburn’s offense.
“They’ve always been offensive,”Van Horn said. “They hit the ball out of the park, hit a lot of doubles. They have a high team batting average. They don’t strike out a whole lot. Pitching wise, I know they’ve had a few injuries. We’re told they’re going to get a guy or two back this weekend. Just a strong SEC team that’s gotten off to a tough start.”
Sweeping Mississippi State last weekend, the Razorbacks opened with a strong five innings start by Patrick Wicklander and a 4-inning save by Benton’s Peyton Pallette, previously the weekend opening starter.
Van Horn has that combo ready tonight with Zebulon Vermillion starting Friday night and lefty Lael Lockhart Saturday afternoon.
Relievers Kevin Kopps, a 4-inning save on behalf of winning reliever Caden Monke, and Jaxon Wiggins, a 2-inning save on behalf of winning long reliever Ryan Costeiu, were pitched pivotally last weekend.
Arkansas second baseman Robert Moore, .256 batting average, shook a slump in Tuesday night’s 21-8 victory over the University of Central Arkansas by becoming the first Razorback since Kyle Harris in 1994 to hit for the cycle, a single, double, triple and home run.
Designated hitter Matt Goodheart, a home run each game, and center fielder Christian Franklin, two home runs the first game and one the second, swung hot Hogs bats in Starkville.
Photos courtesy of Craven Whitlow, CW3, Sports Action