After Auburn pushed across two runs in the first four innings of Thursday’s game against Arkansas, it became apparent more scoring would be hard to pull off.
Fortunately for the Tigers, senior right-hander Cody Greenhill had no interest in letting the Razorbacks close the gap.
Greenhill was strong throughout Thursday’s start and shut the door on Arkansas in a 2-1 Auburn victory, the Tigers’ first SEC win of the season. The game featured a strong performance from Greenhill, who threw seven innings with just three hits and one earned run and only allowed two lead-off Arkansas batters to reach base.
The Tigers (12-11, 1-6 SEC) entered Thursday’s game riding a six-game losing streak during which early runs were hard to come by. Auburn second baseman Brody Moore made sure that wasn’t the story once again.
Moore made the most of his second at-bat by launching a solo home run to right field to push the Tigers to a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Auburn stretched the lead one inning later when catcher Nate LaRue sent a sacrifice fly to left field that helped Kason Howell cross home plate safely to create a 2-0 contest.
Auburn’s second run was set up in part by an Arkansas throwing error that helped Howell reach third base, a mistake which became all too common for the Razorbacks. Arkansas (20-4, 5-2 SEC) entered Thursday’s game leading the SEC in fielding percentage but committed three errors that kept the Tigers on the bases and allowed them to repeatedly threaten the Razorbacks.
While Auburn’s hitters found some success at the plate, Greenhill made sure the same could not be said for Arkansas.
Greenhill limited the damage done by Arkansas again and again, and even as pitch count ticked up he continued to cause problems. Greenhill struck out four of the last six batters he faced to help the Tigers stay ahead and keep a talented Arkansas lineup from closing the gap.
Greenhill gave way to reliever Carson Skipper, who gave up one hit but left the eighth inning with no damage done. Mason Barnett closed out the game in the ninth, and after a Moore double play eased some of the tension Barnett forced a flyout to center field to end the Razorbacks’ late hopes.
The Auburn offense had some missed opportunities early, namely an ill-attempted tag-up in the fifth inning that saw Moore tagged out at home to end the frame. Any chance to score practically evaporated with the entrance of Arkansas reliever Kevin Kopps, who threw three innings while allowing only one hit and striking out eight.
While Auburn’s pitchers had little wiggle room with which to work, they proved themselves up for the challenge.
The Tigers and the Razorbacks return to the diamond at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Senior left-hander Jack Owen is set to start Game 2 for the Tigers.