Josh Anthony came to Auburn as one of the country’s most sought-after recruits. He hit .425 with 20 home runs and 71 RBI at Western Oklahoma State last season, and was the nation’s No. 1 junior college recruit.
This season at Auburn, it had been a struggle for Anthony at the plate. He entered the weekend series vs. Arkansas hitting .259 without a home run and just 19 RBI.
This weekend, however, No. 10 Auburn hopped on Anthony’s back as he carried the Tigers to a 11-6 win over No. 16 Arkansas in the rubber game of the series.
Anthony finished the series 9-for-12 (.750) with three doubles, one home run, seven RBI and five runs scored. He went 4-for-5 Sunday afternoon with two doubles, three RBI and two runs scored to pace the Auburn offense.
“I’m basically just getting my pitches,” Anthony said. “I’m getting the pitcher’s pitches early in the count and spitting on those until I have to swing at those and finding a pitch I can drive.”
Anthony supplied the biggest hit of the afternoon in the bottom of the seventh. After Arkansas tied the game at six in the top half of the inning, Dylan Ingram began the inning with a walk, which was followed with a double by Luke Jarvis. Anthony then stepped in and smoked a two-run double off the third baseman’s glove to give Auburn a lead it would not relinquish.
“It’s fun to watch our guys compete,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson said. “I would’ve been happy with our ball club win, lose or draw today because I saw them fight the way they’ve been doing for every game in the balance. To win nine out of ten series gives our team confidence.”
After allowing two runs on one hit and three walks in just a third of an inning Saturday, Auburn lefty reliever Andrew Mitchell (5-1) picked up the win Sunday. He fired the final five innings, giving up just one run on three hits while striking out three without a walk.
“We talked about it yesterday, I just have a lot of confidence in him,” Thompson said. “I didn’t think that was him yesterday, and getting another shot, I didn’t know he’d go five innings now, I’ve got to be honest. He also went five innings, which is further than I thought he would go in the ballgame, and he walked zero. I hope that makes our player Andrew Mitchell feel like his coaches and his team believes in him, to give him an opportunity to walk right back out there. He made us look good today."
“Just being able to come back and establish a fastball and have my curveball today really helped,” Mitchell said. “We just kind of stuck to the game plan and thankfully we came out with it. Today was by far the best my arm has felt in a while.”
After Arkansas grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top half of the inning, Auburn jumped on Arkansas starter Josh Alberius for four runs in the 2nd inning.
The inning started with a single by Conor Davis, who extended his career-high hit streak to 10 games. Jarvis then pounced on a full-count breaking ball and lifted it over the Monster in left field to give Auburn a 2-1 lead. It was Jarvis’ team-high fifth homer of the year.
Anthony and Blake Logan followed Jarvis’ big fly with back-to-back singles. They both came around to score on a two-out, two-run double by Jonah Todd.
After Bo Decker extended Auburn’s lead to 5-2 in the third with a RBI single, Arkansas struck for three runs in the fourth inning off Auburn reliever Calvin Coker to tie the game at five. Jake Arledge and Chad Spanberger each had run-scoring hits for the Razorbacks.
Auburn grabbed the lead back in the bottom half of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Jarvis.
“They tied it twice, we never gave up the lead. I thought that was significant,” Thompson said. “That’s a great ball club that’s going to make a run.”
Auburn added insurance runs in the bottom of the 8th by way of a solo home run by Ingram and another RBI double by Anthony.
The Tigers have now hit 11 home runs in its last eight games after hitting 10 in its first 34 games. Auburn finished with 20 extra-base hits over the weekend.
After earning the win Saturday, Cannon Chadwick (4-2) took the loss for the Razorbacks. He allowed three runs on two hits in the 7th inning. Spanberger finished the afternoon 4-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored.
Auburn improved to 30-12 overall and 12-6 in the SEC while Arkansas fell to 32-10 and 12-6. The Tigers will return to action Tuesday night at 6 p.m. vs. Troy at Plainsman Park.