Baseball Advance

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – With their esteemed baseball tradition the LSU Tigers never should appear easy pickings.

They don’t now – even buried in the 6-12 SEC West basement while the Arkansas Razorbacks, not only best in the SEC West nationally No. 1, come tonight, Saturday and Sunday to Alex Box Stadium.

Game times are 6 tonight televised by the SEC Network and 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday Internet video available on SEC+.

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn has his Hogs, 32-7 overall/13-5 in the SEC, on alert upon LSU winning 2 of 3 at nationally No. 12 SEC West rival Ole Miss last weekend in Oxford.

In that series’ third game Coach Paul Mainieri’s Tigers led 9-1 Saturday before Ole Miss erupted an 8-run eighth and in the ninth prevailed, 10-9.

“You saw they were one out in the bottom of that eighth inning from sweeping Ole Miss on the road,” Van Horn said. “We know how hard it is to sweep anybody, but especially Ole Miss at their ball park. They (LSU) are capable, like any team in the league of having a great weekend and getting after you pretty good.”

Especially at Alex Box. In their annual SEC 3-game West series alternating between Fayetteville and Baton Rouge, Arkansas last won the series at Alex Box with a sweep by the Razorbacks’ 2004 SEC champions.

“Yeah, it’s been a tough place for us to win a series,” Van Horn said. “I think with this (Arkansas) team we have a chance to win a series anywhere we go.”

So do the Tigers, Van Horn said.

“They have a lot of talent,” Van Horn said. “They seem to be playing really well now so it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

The Tigers against Ole Miss started right-handers Landon Marceaux, 4-3, 2.10 ERA, AJ Labas 3-0, 4.15, and Will Helmers, 3-0, 4.15.

Right fielder Dylan Crews .362 batting average with 10 home runs and 28 RBI, first baseman Tre Morgan .358, third baseman Cade Doughty, .307 9 home runs 39 RBI and left fielder Gavin Dougas, a team-leading 12 home runs and 47 RBI while hitting .288, lead LSU’s attack hitting.

The Tigers hit just four points under Arkansas’ .280 team batting average and while obviously short of Arkansas’ nationally leading 74 home runs have swatted 60.

Arkansas has either swept (at Mississippi State) or won 2 of 3 in its six SEC series so far most recently including a Thursday victory and Friday doubleheader split last week at South Carolina.

Kevin Kopps, the Razorbacks reliever, 6-0, five saves and 0.97 earned run average named Collegiate Baseball’s National Pitcher of the Week this week and Wednesday announced on the Watch List for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Stopper of the Year Award, has won or saved at least one game every SEC series and recorded two saves vs. South Carolina.

Lefty Patrick Wicklander 2-1, 2,20 and allowing but one run through seven innings beating South Carolina last week, and Benton’s Peyton Pallette, 1-2, 3.98, will start tonight and Saturday for Arkansas.

Van Horn leaves Sunday’s starter to be announced with Lael Lockhart, Zebulon Vermillion and Lael Lockhart all experienced SEC starters and ready if not used Friday or Saturday in relief.

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