FAYETTEVILLE — No. 1 Arkansas got a scare, but managed to rally late for a 6-5 win over Auburn on Friday night at Baum-Walker Stadium.
The Hogs finally took the lead for good in the bottom of the eighth. Cayden Wallace walked to start the inning. With one out, he went to second on a wild pitch. Casey Opitz walked and Zack Gregory was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Wallace then scored on a wild pitch to give the Hogs the lead.
Zebulon Vermillion got the start for the Hogs. He lasted 2.2 innings, allowed six hits, three runs (all earned), threw 42 pitches and 29 were strikes. Peyton Pallette replaced him and inherited runners on first and second with two outs. Pallette promptly struck out the first hitter he faced to end the Auburn half of the third inning. Pallette was outstanding for the Hogs. He worked 4.1 innings, gave up two hits, one run (earned), five strikeouts and one hit by pitch and threw 69 pitches with 47 strikes. Jaxon Wiggins came into pitch the bottom of the eighth.
Auburn started the game off with leadoff hitter shortstop Ryan Bliss powering the Vermillion pitch over the fence in left field for a quick 1-0 lead. Bliss added another run in the top of the third when he hit a one-out single to right center and Judd Ward also scored to put the Tigers up 3-0.
In the top of the fourth, Steven Williams hit a solo shot over the fence in right field for a 4-0 lead. Williams, Auburn’s right fielder, hit his home run off Pallette.
Christian Franklin got Arkansas’ first hit of the game off Jack Owen in the bottom of the fourth with one out. However he was promptly erased with a double play to end the fourth.
Owen went 5.1 innings allowing two hits, one run, struck out four, threw 73 pitches and 48 were strikes. Trace Bright replaced him. Richard Fitts was the third pitcher for Auburn. Brooks Fuller came in the seventh with two outs and runner on first.
In the bottom of the seventh, Arkansas’ bats came alive. Franklin doubled off Bright and then Wallace singled to get the run across. Wallace then went to second on a throwing error with no outs. Opitz singled to right field and Wallace came in from second to make it 4-2 with one out. Gregory pinch hit for Braydon Webb and plated Opitz with a one-out triple to pull the Hogs to within 4-3. Jalen Battles then walked to give the Hogs runners on the corners with one out. Cullen Smith hit a sacrifice fly to score Gregory to tie the game at 4 with two outs. Battles stole second with Robert Moore at the plate. Moore hit a single up the middle to allow Battles to score from second for a 5-4 lead.
Auburn got to Wiggins in the top of the eighth for a run to tie the game at 5. Wiggins pitched one inning, alowed two hits, one strikeout, one run (earned), one walk, threw 20 pitches with 11 being strikes. Kevin Kopps pitched the ninth for Arkansas and retired all three hitters he faced. Wiggins (2-0) was the winning pitcher with Kopps getting his third save. Carson Swilling (1-1) took the loss.
Arkansas (21-4, 6-2) and Auburn (12-12, 1-7) will play the final game of the series on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m.