FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Senior Michael Bernal provided the heroics again Sunday afternoon, driving in all three of Arkansas's runs in the seventh and eighth innings to help complete the sweep of Auburn, winning 3-1 at Baum Stadium. Arkansas (18-6, 3-3 SEC), which was coming off a sweep of their own at the hands of South Carolina, evened things back up in conference play with Sunday's win and earned their first sweep of a conference team at home since 2012.
For Bernal, the shortstop went 2-for-4 at the plate, both hits coming in the seventh and eighth innings to finally put Arkansas on the board after Auburn (11-13, 1-5 SEC) starting pitcher Cole Lipscomb held the Hogs in check for six innings.
Along with Bernal, both Cullen Gassaway and Rick Nomura turned in two-hit days, both going 2-for-4 with Nomura scoring two of Arkansas's three runs.
As a team this weekend, the Razorbacks batted .294 with 20 runs scored and four home runs. Bernal, Nomura and Carson Shaddy all batted .400 or higher over the three-game stretch with Bernal taking home the high honors of a .455 average with five hits, two home runs, seven RBI and an even 1.000 slugging percentage.
Arkansas closer Zach Jackson got the win, moving his record to 2-2 on the year, but the win could be credited to the whole pitching staff along with starter Barrett Loseke, Jordan Rodriguez and Doug Willey, which gave up just seven hits over 6.2 innings and just one earned run, while striking out seven before Jackson took the hill.
Loseke, who was making his third start of the year, only lasted 2.2 innings, but still pitched a solid game, scattering four hits and giving up the one run off a homer from Jackson Burgreen in the third inning.
Jackson came in to pitch in the middle of the sixth inning after Willey put two runners aboard with two outs and the team still trailing 1-0. Needing a big out to end the threat, Jackson got the groundout of Jordan Ebert to end the inning and he went on to limit Auburn to just three hits the rest of the way, stranding four base runners.
Arkansas's pitching was much more solid this week against Auburn than what was seen last week at South Carolina. The combined ERA of the Hog hurlers for this week was 3.33, a near five-run improvement from last week against the Gamecocks (8.62), striking out 25 batters and giving up just 10 earned runs.
Even though both Auburn and Arkansas stayed almost even in hits for the series (Arkansas 30, Auburn 31), the Hog pitchers worked out of multiple jams forcing the Tigers to leave 38 runners on base throughout the series.
The Razorback offense only managed one hit through the first six innings, but finally got to Lipscomb in the seventh after Rick Nomura and Luke Bonfield both led off the frame with singles, forcing Auburn to go to the bullpen with only a 1-0 lead.
After Lipscomb was pulled, Ben Braymer came on to pitch for the Tigers with two men on base and nobody out. Braymer walked Chad Spanberger to load the bases, bringing up Bernal with a huge RBI opportunity and the go-ahead run on second.
Bernal battled through a 10-pitch at-bat before finally connecting on one in play, sending a high fly ball to straight-away centerfield. The ball was able to drop after some Auburn miscommunication, bringing in Nomura to tie the game at 1-1. Arkansas wasn't able to add to the one run, popping out in two-straight at-bats and then grounding out to end the threat.
In the eighth inning, Arkansas, again, got off to a good start at the plate as Auburn went to the bullpen for the second time and brought in Izaac Yarbrough. Yarbrough started the inning off with a fly out, but then gave up singles to Cullen Gassaway and Nomura before walking Bonfield, allowing Arkansas to load the bases for the second-straight inning.
Spanberger grounded to first base as Auburn took the force out at home to get the second out of the inning, but it allowed Bernal to come back to bat in the same situation with another opportunity to give Arkansas the go-ahead run.
Auburn went to the bullpen again and brought in Gabe Klobosits, but the change in arms didn't affect Bernal anyway. The El Paso, Texas-native came through with a single to left field, bringing home Nomura and Bonfield and pushing the Hogs ahead 3-1, which ended up being the winning runs.
Arkansas takes a break from the conference season to dip back into non-conference play as it will travel to Stillwater, Okla., on Tuesday to face No. 19 Oklahoma State at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium, the same site that Arkansas clinched a spot in the NCAA Super Regionals last year. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. and will be televised online on Fox Sports-Plus.