Resilience leads Auburn over Arkansas in late innings

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Auburn Athletics

Photo: Auburn Athletics

AUBURN, Ala. – No. 18 Auburn scored three unanswered runs in the seventh and eighth innings to defeat No. 3 Arkansas, 5-3, and even the series Saturday at Plainsman Park.

Tied 3-3 after a back-and-forth battle, a safety squeeze by pinch hitter Mason Land scored Garrett Farquhar from third to give Auburn (32-15, 13-10 SEC) the lead in the eighth.

“We found a way today,” head coach Butch Thompson said. “What a difference a day can make. This is just the resilience and the hallmark of this ballclub this season.

“Mason Land, for him to come up and pinch hit and do a safety squeeze to perfection, that makes a big difference,” Thompson added.

Brooks Carlson started the eighth with a one-out walk and advanced to third on a single from Brody Moore before Land executed the aforementioned safety squeeze to put Auburn ahead.

“We just have so many guys that can play and come off the bench, so you never know when your name will be called.” Land said. “You just have to stay ready.”

Cole Foster continued the scoring in the inning with a sacrifice fly to center, bringing in Moore from third and extending the lead to 5-3.

“Cole is way above average to hit in the nine-hole as a switch hitter and a good athlete,” Thompson said. “If he’s hitting ninth, we have a pretty good offense.”

Sophomore righty Carson Swilling (2-2, 6.14) kept the Razorbacks scoreless in the final two frames, facing only one over the minimum and retiring the last six batters he faced to earn the win for the Tigers.

“It feels good,” Swilling said. “I know someone had to step up with Burkhalter down right now. That was kind of my mindset. I just wanted to go out there and compete and go 100 percent. That never changes.”

Arkansas (35-12, 15-8 SEC) began the scoring with a two-out single in the second, but Auburn answered right back as Carlson hit his second home run of the series in the bottom of the inning, tying the game at one.

An inning later, Sonny DiChiara gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead with a solo homer, his 14th of the season. The ball left the bat at 109 miles per hour and traveled 415 feet.

Arkansas tied the game with a leadoff double and a pair of ground outs in the fifth. Junior Chase Isbell entered in relief of starter Trace Bright and ended the inning with a strikeout. Bright threw 4.2 innings and allowed two runs on only two hits.

The Razorbacks took the lead, 3-2, in the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly to center, but again Auburn answered as Blake Rambusch tied the game with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the inning. The homer was his fourth of the season.

After facing only two over the minimum and striking out three in 2.1 innings, Isbell passed the baton to Swilling, who finished off his first game of the season. The duo held Arkansas to one run on one hit in the final 4.1 innings.

The rubber game of the series is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. CT at Plainsman Park.

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