Sunday, May 2, 2010

Recap: Going Hog-wild

 

I’m not going to lie. Winning the series this weekend in Fayetteville wasn’t something I was expecting. I will admit that I was taking a more realistic approach when predicting this weekend. I mean, Arkansas had only lost 3 games at Baum all season. 3. They had only lost 1 SEC game. The Hogs had an offense that rivaled Auburn’s and a pitching staff that had been one of the conferences best. Plus, after Auburn’s struggles against Kentucky last weekend, I didn’t have the fullest of faith in our pitching staff. I wasn’t doubting Auburn. Far from it. The Auburn fan in me thinks Auburn could win any game. The Auburn realist in me takes everything on a game by game basis, looking at stats and trends and predicting based on hard data. It’s quite possible the only people realistically expecting an Auburn series win were die-hard Tiger fans and the players themselves, as evidenced by the makeshift motivation in the Auburn locker room:

 

What Auburn did this weekend was nothing short of remarkable. Friday’s game was a disaster, Saturday’s game was a nailbiter, and Sunday’s game was a blowout.

After Friday’s result, in which Auburn “blew” a 4-0 lead and was completely handcuffed by Arkansas pitcher Drew Smyly who pitched a complete game, giving up only 2 ER and getting 9 ks.

It looked like same story, different verse for Auburn in game 2. Then something happened. Something clicked. Drew Fant for Arkansas was cruising and then Auburn exploded, scoring 8 runs in the 5th. Complete with 2 Hunter Morris homeruns:

"It was a big inning for us. When you score all of your runs and get seven of your 10 hits in one inning, it is a big inning no matter how you look at it," Morris said. "The first at bat of the inning I was just looking to get on base. Their pitcher (Fant) had done a good job of getting ahead of us all day and working early in the count and keeping us off balance. I was thinking double out of the box but I was glad it got up an extra foot or so.

"The second at bat I didn't have to think about it for very long. I pretty much knew it was gone."

 

That’s all Auburn would need. Slade Smith was stellar, pitching 5.2 innings after starter Stephen Kohlscheen was ineffective and pulled after one inning. Smith got the hard fought W after Austin Hubbard came in and staved off a late hogs rally. Striking out the final batter with the tie-ing run on 3rd in the bottom of the ninth:

 

(side note, It’s tough to find some Arkansas video highlights. This is from WTHV in Little Rock) There is some more video from 40/29 TV right here where you can see the final strikeout for Hubbard. I’m not even gong to bother linking the impossible to break down KARK video at their Hogville.net site)

 

So that set up a huge Sunday and left it all up to Grant Dayton. Dayton was up to the task, pitching 7 innings, a season (and career) high 122 pitches and 10ks. Dayton was phenomenal:

 

Whatever mistakes Grant did make, he either worked out of them, or in the case of the 2 Solo Home Runs, responded immediately. Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn definitely took notice, as you can see in the video here. and some other video here.

Overall, this was a huge win for Auburn and one that could propel the Tigers into an outside shot of hosting a Regional. We’ll have to see how the predictors shake out. Bottom Line, War Eagle and let’s get on a roll.

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