Picked to finish 7th in the SEC West, the 2022 Auburn Tigers finished tied for 5th nationally, ending their season at the College World Series Tuesday with an 11-1 loss to Arkansas at Charles Schwab Field.
“I didn’t want this ride to end,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “Hopefully we’ve stair-stepped this program to keep fighting and having a feeling that the best is yet to come.”
Bobby Peirce led off the bottom of the 7th with his 10th home run of the season for Auburn’s only run. Peirce, the Tigers’ right fielder, also delivered Auburn’s defensive highlight in the 8th throwing out a runner trying to advance from first to third on a single.
Arkansas, which outhit Auburn 16-4, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first after a leadoff double and an RBI single from the Razorbacks’ first two batters. Auburn starter Mason Barnett (3-3) struck out four batters in the first two innings but ran into trouble in the 3rd when a ball lost in the sun in left field gave the Razorbacks a baserunner and an extra out.
Arkansas capitalized to take a 4-0 lead on Chris Lanzilli’s RBI single and Robert Moore’s two-run double, ending Barnett’s outing. John Armstrong recorded the final out of the 3rd but struggled in the 4th, allowing a two-run double to Michael Turner and Lanzilli’s two-run homer that put Arkansas on top 8-0, with seven of those runs coming with two outs.
Auburn hitters struggled against Arkansas starter Will McEntire, who faced the minimum through three innings, striking out six consecutive Tigers in the process. McEntire (2-2) struck out nine in seven innings, allowing one run on three hits.
“Down the stretch we had to tip our hat to too many starting pitchers,” Thompson said. “They just kept putting the ball in play and good things happened while we were still trying to put the bat on the ball.” Sonny DiChiara’s 4th-inning single represented Auburn’s first hit, but the Tigers were unable to mount their 23rd comeback win of the season. The SEC Co-Player of the Year recorded two of Auburn’s four hits, finishing the season with a .383 batting average.
Senior Carson Skipper relieved Armstrong in the 4th and retired the first six Razorbacks he faced before back-to-back two-out hits in the 6th extended the Arkansas lead to 9-0.
“It’s an incredible feeling to come to a place of such joy and happiness to the whole college baseball world more than one time,” said Skipper, a freshman on Auburn’s 2019 CWS team.
“All that stems from Coach Thompson; great leader, great man, along with all of the other coaches and staff members. Everybody from top to bottom has made such an impact on me.”
The Razorbacks added two more runs in the 9th. Arkansas scored 10 of its 11 runs with two outs. Chase Isbell, Chase Allsup, Carson Swilling and Brookes Fuller finished the game for the Tigers. Auburn pitchers struck out 13, reaching double digits in all three games at the 2022 CWS.
Arkansas (45-20) advances to play Ole Miss Wednesday, needing to beat the Rebels twice to reach the championship series. Four of the last five teams competing in Omaha hailed from the SEC West.
Auburn (43-22) concludes a memorable season that saw the Tigers post a winning SEC record (16-13), host an NCAA regional for the first time since 2010, win a regional at home for the first time since 1999, win the Corvallis Super Regional, and win a College World Series game for the first time in 25 years.
“You can look at pen to paper from the time we’ve been here to this second and see some growth,” said Thompson, completing his seventh season on the Plains. “I absolutely think we are on the cusp of doing amazing things consistently. That’ll be the driving force, trying to leave this program in a better place. It was a great experience for every one of us. We found a ton of positives out of this season. Our people stepped up to the plate for this team before we ever played a game and I’ll never forget that. I thought we returned the favor at the end of the postseason.”
Auburn head coach Butch Thompson, seniors Brody Moore and Carson Skipper all talked about the loss, the season, and so much more in the postgame. Video is courtesy of the NCAA and The College World Series.