Wicklander Courtesy

Junior pitcher Patrick Wicklander throws during Thursday’s game against Auburn. Wicklander posted his first quality start of 2021, but he took a tough-luck loss as Arkansas only mustered one run. 

It was a quiet night at the plate for the second-ranked Razorback baseball team, managing just one run on four hits and falling 2-1 to the visiting Auburn Tigers. The Hogs put on another exceptional display of pitching, but they were no match for Auburn’s Cody Greenhill, who threw seven innings of one-run ball to end the Arkansas winning streak at eight games.

“We just did not do much against Greenhill,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said after the game. “Bottom line, he just put it on us, he gave them seven solid innings, seven quick innings, defense made two or three really nice plays behind him, and obviously we didn’t do anything.”

Both Greenhill and Arkansas lefty Patrick Wicklander set the tone for the game in the first inning, facing the minimum three hitters. While Greenhill mowed down the Razorbacks the first time through the batting order, Wicklander faced brief hiccups in each of the next few frames.

The Tigers loaded the bases in the second inning, but failed to strike first after Wicklander punched out catcher Nate LaRue. Second baseman Brody Moore launched an opposite-field solo home run in the third, and the Tigers capitalized in the fourth after junior shortstop Jalen Battles’ throwing error, one of three committed by the Razorbacks in the contest.

“The only play (Battles) had was at first base, and I don’t know why he threw to second,” Van Horn said. “Just a couple plays that were almost more mental than physical, in my opinion.”

Senior left fielder Braydon Webb put an end to Greenhill’s no-hit bid in the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff bomb into the Razorback bullpen. The longball was his third of the season and cut the Auburn lead to 2-1.

Webb backed up his home run with an outfield assist in the following frame. With two runners in scoring position and one out, Auburn left fielder Judd Ward lifted a fly ball into shallow left field. Webb fired to senior catcher Casey Opitz, who tagged the runner out in plenty of time to end the inning.

Wicklander pitched through the sixth inning, allowing just one walk and an earned run while fanning eight Tigers.

“He came out, threw a lot of strikes and mixed in some breaking balls, a few changeups, and gave us an opportunity to get in the game,” Van Horn said. “They had him on the ropes and he worked out of a couple of jams. It was really good to see, it’s something that we can build on.”

Senior righty Kevin Kopps took the mound in the seventh inning, following Wicklander’s lead by striking out the first three hitters he saw. Kopps racked up five more strikeouts in the next two frames, matching Wicklander’s total of eight.

“(Kopps’) performance was great,” Van Horn said. “We had three innings left, we felt like we were down a run and we were going to be able to score a run or two, and Kevin was the right one to bring in at the time.”

The Razorbacks’ best chance to draw even came in the seventh inning, when freshman right fielder Cayden Wallace led off with his second base hit of the night. He was the first leadoff hitter to reach base, save Webb’s homer, but was erased on an acrobatic, inning-ending double play turned by Brody Moore.

Arkansas had another leadoff man reach in the ninth, as sophomore Zack Gregory checked in with a pinch-hit walk. Brody Moore turned another double play by himself, tagging Gregory before firing to first to kill the Hogs’ momentum. A few pitches later, Wallace flied out to center to end the game, and the Tigers earned their first Southeastern Conference victory of 2021.

“We need to swing the bat better and we need to play defense better, from what I saw tonight” Van Horn said. “Give Auburn credit, they did a great job. They came in here needing a win, and they got one.”

Arkansas and Auburn are set to square off again at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Lefty Jack Owen will get the ball for the Tigers, opposite Razorback senior right-hander Zebulon Vermillion. The game can be streamed on the SEC Network+, available through WatchESPN.com.

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