Slavens’ Go-Ahead Homer Carries Hogs past Tigers
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Brady Slavens’ three-run blast punctuated a five-run fourth inning and helped power No. 7 Arkansas (16-2, 1-0 SEC) past Auburn (13-4-1, 0-1 SEC), 7-2, in the SEC opener on Friday afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Friday’s win was the Hogs’ 11th in a row, two shy of their longest winning streak since 2010. Arkansas can clinch its sixth consecutive SEC Opening Weekend series win and its fifth consecutive weekend series win against Auburn tomorrow.
Hunter Hollan, making his first Friday start as a Razorback, turned in his second quality start of the season, twirling six strong innings to improve to 4-0. The lefty struck out three, limiting the Tigers to two runs on six hits and three walks.
Auburn took an early two-run lead, but Arkansas used its five-run fourth inning to take control of the ballgame. Back-to-back walks to Peyton Stovall and Jared Wegner to start the inning set Slavens up for a big moment, and he delivered.
The SEC’s active leader in career RBI swatted the go-ahead three-run blast off the scoreboard in right center to put the Hogs up. RBI singles by Parker Rowland and Tavian Josenberger later in the inning extended Arkansas’ advantage to 5-2.
Slavens, who finished the game with a team-high three RBI, now has 160 career RBI, most among all active SEC hitters.
Arkansas would tack on two more runs in the sixth, scoring one on Stovall’s sacrifice fly before Wegner’s single brought home another. Wegner, who boasts a team-leading 11-game hitting streak, finished 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI and two walks, raising his season slash line to .400/.535/.831 while increasing his team-leading RBI total to 30.
Hagen Smith, making his first relief appearance of the season, emerged from the bullpen in the seventh and was dominant. The left-hander, who was used as the Razorbacks’ Friday starter through the first four weekends of the campaign, spun three hitless innings with five strikeouts to lock down Arkansas’ 7-2 win and secure his third career save.
The Razorbacks will go for their fourth consecutive weekend series win of the season tomorrow afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium. First pitch in game two between Arkansas and Auburn is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, March 18, on SEC Network+ with Brett Dolan (play-by-play) and Troy Eklund (analyst) on the call.
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