Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Two games in day not double the fun
Arkansas second baseman Brian Anderson forces out Auburn baserunner Blake Logan out at second base in the second inning of the first game of Saturday's doubleheader at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - When Arkansas joined the SEC in 1992, playing doubleheaders was part of every team’s conference schedule. The SEC’s 12 teams each played 24 games with eight doubleheaders.
In 1994, there was a format change with SEC teams spreading their eight three-game series over three days.
The SEC’s 14 teams now play 30 conference games, and while doubleheaders haven’t been reinstated as part of the schedule, weather often has made it seem that way this season.
Arkansas played its third SEC doubleheader of the season on Saturday night, when the Razorbacks beat Auburn 4-3 in 10 innings and lost to the Tigers 7-2 at Baum Stadium.
The Razorbacks (28-18, 10-11 SEC) split doubleheaders earlier this season with Mississippi State and South Carolina, the first time they’ve played three doubleheaders in SEC play since 1996.
“It’s tough to beat a good team two times in one day,and in the SEC, they’re all good,” said Arkansas center field Tyler Spoon, who had the game-winning single in Saturday night’s opener. “So you’ve got to bring your A game both times and catch some breaks.”
Auburn (25-20, 9-12) hasn’t had a winning SEC season since going 20-10 to win the West title in 2010, but the Tigers won their series against Arkansas for the fifth consecutive year, including a 2-1 victory on Friday night.
The Razorbacks, who finish SEC play at Ole Miss, at home against Texas A&M and at Missouri, are tied with the Aggies for fifth in the West and for the eighth-best overall conference record.
“We need to finish strong,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. “We need to get after it somehow, some way.”
Sunny Golloway is in his first season as Auburn’s coach after nine years at Oklahoma, but he became familiar with the SEC from postseason play.
Oklahoma was a top eight NCAA Tournament seed in 2009 when Arkansas twice beat the Sooners at Norman, Okla. The Sooners lost to South Carolina twice in the 2010 College World Series, lost two games in a super regional at South Carolina in 2012 and lost two games at LSU in a super regional last season.
“I see now why Arkansas was able to come in and upset us as the No. 7 seed,” Golloway said. “The SEC schools can pitch and play defense over anybody in the country. That’s all there is to it.
“Our league is going to deserve so many teams [in NCAA regionals]. I’m not lobbying for it, but it’s the truth. It’s the best league, has the best talent. It’s hard to score in this league.”
Van Horn said that between games Saturday night, two veteran umpires commented on the SEC’s strength when the coaches exchanged lineup cards.
“They said this is the best they’ve seen the league and most balanced they’ve seen the league in 20 years,” Van Horn said.
Arkansas announced Friday the teams would play a doubleheader Saturday because of inclement forecast for Sunday.
“It would have been nice to go home with a win and sleep on it, come back on Sunday and play,” Van Horn said after Saturday night’s games. “But obviously that wasn’t the agreement, and that’s the way the weather is.
“I hope it rains all day tomorrow.”
Instead it didn’t rain Sunday afternoon when the teams had been scheduled to play.
Four of Arkansas’ six doubleheaders on the season have come in the ‘ast five weeks. It’s the most Arkansas has played since 1993, when it played 11.
SUNDAY’S GAMES Florida 6, Missouri 5 South Carolina 9, Alabama 3Mississippi 9, Kentucky 6 LSU 9, Tennessee 4 Vanderbilt 6, Georgia 1
Sports, Pages 15 on 04/28/2014