Conner Kendrick and Terrance Dedrick combined to hold No. 11 Arkansas to just five hits and kept them out of the run column for the entire night as the Auburn baseball team picked up a 3-0 win on Thursday in the series opener. With the win Auburn improved to 32-21, 12-16 SEC while Arkansas fell to 34-18, 17-10 SEC.
Kendrick tied his career high with eight strike outs, set twice before, and scattered four hits (three singles and a double) over 7 1/3 innings to move to 5-3 on the season. The left-hander walked just one and only allowed multiple base runners in one inning, it being the fourth. The southpaw would record inning-ending strike outs in the second, third and sixth as Auburn posted its first SEC shutout since a 3-0 win over Georgia on May 7, 2011.
"I thought that was the best off-speed stuff he has had all year," Auburn Head Coach John Pawlowski said. "He commanded his fastball, threw three pitches for strikes and went deep in the game. He had a ton of confidence tonight."
"I felt good, it was probably the best I felt all year," Kendrick said. "This is a huge win coming off the loss the other night (vs. Jacksonville State). We came back today and played well."
Dedrick earned his ninth save by throwing the final 1 2/3 innings. He entered for Kendrick following a one-out walk in the eighth and got a fly out and a strike out to keep Arkansas off the board. After he walked the second hitter he faced in the ninth, he surrendered a single but was able to close the door by getting Jordan Farris to ground into the game-ending double play, the first time Farris has been doubled up this season.
Dedrick's nine saves are ninth in Auburn single-season history and the most by an Auburn pitcher since Austin Hubbard saved 10 in 2010.
Auburn took a 2-0 lead in the third on a Garrett Cooper two-run single. Mitchell Self slashed a single through a drawn in left side of the infield and Hunter Kelley reached on a fielder's choice, which erased Blake Austin at third after he reached on an error. After Cullen Wacker grounded out to the pitcher to put two in scoring position, Cooper singled to left to drive in two, tying him for the team lead with 37 RBI on the season.
Auburn tacked on an insurance run in the seventh as Self, who finished 3-for-3 with a pair of runs scored, singled and scored on a throwing error by the Arkansas third baseman on a Hunter Kelley double. Self had entered the game with just four hits and three runs scored on the year.
"I found out earlier today that it was turn to go in, my chance to play and I was real excited and real pumped to be out there on the field," Self said of getting the start in place of the injured Damek Tomscha. "You always wait for the opportunity to get in the game and when it happens you have to take advantage of it. As long as we are out there playing hard and everyone is trying to win, I'm good."
"Mitchell really stepped up for us today," Pawlowski said. "Guys work hard, they practice hard, they come to the field with the right attitude. He got an opportunity and certainly I am proud of what he did today to help contribute to our cause."
Arkansas starter Barrett Austin (4-4) was charged for all three runs, though all three were unearned, in 6 1/3 innings, getting roughed up for nine hits and a walk despite striking out seven.
Auburn will attempt to win the series on Friday at 6pm when it sends left-hander Michael O'Neal (8-3) to the mound opposite Arkansas right-hander Ryne Stanek (7-2).