Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Razorbacks win first SEC series over Auburn
Arkansas coach (left) and Auburn coach Butch Thompson exchange lineup cards prior to a game Friday, March 17, 2023, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Frigid temperatures did not cool the sixth-ranked Arkansas baseball team Saturday.
The Razorbacks defeated Auburn 9-3 to win the best-of-three-game series at Baum-Walker Stadium. Arkansas (17-2, 2-0 SEC) won its 12th consecutive game and will attempt for a sweep Sunday at 2 p.m.
With a game-time temperature of 38 degrees and a wind chill in the 20s, the Razorbacks pitched better than their SEC West counterparts. For the second consecutive day, two Arkansas pitchers combined to shut down an Auburn lineup that had been one of the league’s best in the nonconference.
Right-hander Will McEntire (4-0) won with a 6-inning start that included 3 runs, 5 hits, 3 walks and 6 strikeouts in 91 pitches. Right-hander Dylan Carter earned his second save with three innings of scoreless relief.
The Razorbacks never trailed. They took a 3-0 lead on Kendall Diggs’ bases-clearing two-out double in the first inning. None of those runs were earned against Auburn left-hander Zach Crotchfelt (0-1) because lead-off hitter Tavian Josenberger reached on a throwing error by shortstop Cole Foster.
The Tigers (13-5-1, 0-2) loaded the bases with no outs against McEntire in the top of the second inning, but scored only one run on a fielder’s choice RBI by Chris Stanfield.
Josenberger hit a two-run, opposite-field home run 358 feet to left to put the Razorbacks ahead 5-1 in the second inning.
Bryson Ware hit the first of two solo home runs in the fourth to cut Arkansas’ lead to 5-2, but the Razorbacks scored four runs in the fifth to take command. The big inning included a bases-loaded walk by Diggs, RBI singles by Harold Coll and pinch hitter Hunter Grimes, and a sacrifice fly by John Bolton.
The first run of the inning was charged to Crotchfelt, who allowed 6 runs (3 earned), 5 hits and 1 walk, and struck out 5 in 80 pitches over 4 innings. Crotchfelt was pulled after a lead-off single by Peyton Stovall.
Reliever Tanner Bauman gave up 3 runs, 4 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 1 in 2 innings.
Ware hit his second lead-off homer against McEntire in the sixth. He scored all three of the Tigers’ runs.
Arkansas won its fifth consecutive series over Auburn dating to 2018. The Tigers have not won a series in Fayetteville since 2014.
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