AUBURN, Ala. — The Razorbacks were deadlocked with the Auburn Tigers in the eighth inning Saturday afternoon, so when freshman right-handed pitcher Brady Tygart folded under pressure, it came as a surprise. He began his outing with three straight strikeouts, but the Tigers tagged him for two runs, going on to win 5-3 and even the series.
Following their series-opening victory, the Hogs got on the board first with two outs in the second inning. Senior center fielder Braydon Webb snuck a ball through the left side of the infield, scoring freshman designated hitter Kendall Diggs.
The Tigers knotted it back up before the second was over, as designated hitter Brooks Carlson took Arkansas freshman left-hander Hagen Smith deep to lead things off. First baseman Sonny DiChiara did the same in the third, giving Auburn a 2-1 lead.
Arkansas leveled the score again in the fifth after sophomore third baseman Cayden Wallace doubled and came home on a pair of productive groundouts. Graduate catcher Michael Turner moved him to third, and junior second baseman Robert Moore drove him in.
Neither starting pitcher made it through five innings. Auburn turned to the bullpen with two outs in the fifth, and the Razorbacks elected to go with senior righty Zebulon Vermillion after four. Smith walked three batters and struck out four, and he allowed just one more hit on top of the solo homers, but no additional runs.
Vermillion cruised through the fifth and sixth with ease, retiring half of the six hitters he faced on strikes, but he ran into trouble in the seventh. With one out, he surrendered another solo homer, which tied the game at 3-3. Freshman righty Brady Tygart relieved him, striking out both Tigers he saw to preserve the deadlock.
After his third strikeout to start the eighth, things started to go awry for Tygart. Ahead in the count 0-2, he walked a batter, then allowed a single to put runners on the corners. Pinch hitter Mason Land bunted a ball back to Tygart, and he botched the throw to the plate, allowing the go-ahead run to score and two runners to move into scoring position.
Junior lefty Zack Morris let one of those runners cross the plate on a sacrifice fly, but it hardly mattered because the Razorbacks went down quietly in the ninth.
The Arkansas-Auburn rubber match is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday. Sophomore righty Jaxon Wiggins is expected to start opposite Tiger right-hander Joseph Gonzalez. The game will stream live on the SEC Network+.