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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn's bullpen struggles in loss to No. 1 Arkansas

<p>Jack Owen on the mound. Photo via SEC Media Portal</p>

Jack Owen on the mound. Photo via SEC Media Portal

Auburn lost 6-5 to No. 1 Arkansas Friday after leading 4-0 through the first six innings. Auburn and Arkansas are tied 1-1 heading into Saturday’s series finale. 

“I tip my hat to Arkansas,” said Auburn head coach Butch Thompson. “To beat the No. 1 team, you have to play a complete game, and they got us there in the seventh inning.”

Ryan Bliss opened the game up for the Tigers with a solo home run on just the game's sixth pitch. The home run was Bliss' seventh of the season and the Tigers’ first leadoff home run since 2018.

Racking up six hits on the first 14 pitches of the game, Auburn propelled itself to a 3-0 lead in the third inning with singles from Bliss, Judd Ward, Rankin Woley and an RBI fielder’s choice from Tyler Miller.

A second solo home run of the night came from Steven Williams in the fourth inning to extend the Tiger’s lead to four. The home run was the 27th of Stevens’ career and his fourth of the 2020-2021 season.

Auburn lefty Jack Owens started his first game of the season on the mound retiring the first 10 batters he faced. Owens kept the Razorbacks hitless through four innings before giving up his first hit with one out.

After a scoreless outing, Owens was replaced by Trace Bright, who recorded the final two outs in the sixth inning off of a strikeout and a groundout.

“Jack was just outstanding,” Thompson said. “He threw a fastball to both sides of the plate, the changeup was excellent, and he threw enough breaking balls to their left-handers. He really got it to the bullpen in great shape. He did an amazing job.”

Leading 4-0 after the sixth, Auburn saw its lead evaporate in the seventh inning as Arkansas scored five runs off of five hits with 10 different batters reaching base. Auburn’s Kason Howell ran down a deep-left-center-field pop fly to end the Arkansas scoring run and seventh inning.

Brody Moore started the eighth inning off offensively for the Tigers with a hard-hit double that bounced off the top of the wall, with Steven Williams driving him in with a sacrificial two-out single.

Now 5-5, Arkansas ended the Tigers’ eighth inning scoring opportunity. In the bottom of the eighth, the Razorbacks saw three of their first four batters reach base. Bright’s turn on the mound ended in the eighth, with the Tigers bringing in four more pitchers to record just five outs.

Arkansas scored the go-ahead, and eventual winning run on a wild Auburn pitch after two walks and a hit-by-pitch set up a bases-loaded situation.

The series will wrap up on Saturday at 2 p.m. CST and will be broadcast on SEC Network-plus. 

Larry Robinson | Photo Editor

Larry is a senior studying journalism with a minor in sociology. He is from Enterprise, Alabama and is in his third year with The Auburn Plainsman. 

Twitter: @ReportingLarry

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