RazorbacksSports

Previewing baseball Hogs series at Missouri

Razorback senior shortstop Jalen Battles (#2) from San Antonio, Texas makes a tag for a put-out on an attempted steal by UIC at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.

by Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – “They all the count the same,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn constantly says of each game of the 30-games played during the 10 3-game series each team plays during the SEC baseball season.

So as Van Horn and for his defending SEC champion Razorbacks 16-3, and 3-0 in the SEC West these three games against the 12-5, 0-3 in the SEC East Missouri Tigers are no less important than Arkansas later playing SEC West powerhouses Ole Miss, LSU and defending national champion Mississippi State.

Arkansas and Mizzou play at 6 tonight, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at the Tigers’ Taylor Stadium in Columbia, Mo.

Saturday’s game will be televised on the SEC Network. The other two will be Internet available on SEC+ and all three on the Razorbacks’ Radio Network.

Coach Steve Bieser’s Tigers opened last week against Vanderbilt, the beast of the SEC East, losing, 15-2, 6-0 and 7-4 to the Commodores in Nashville, Tenn.

They ran into a tough team in Vandy, a hot team in Vandy,” Van Horn said. “It just didn’t go good for them. I know the situation for them because we’ve all been in it before. You have a rough weekend (on the road) and now somebody is coming to you and it’s super important. We’re getting involved in a team that’s on a miss. We can’t take anybody lightly.”

Crossing recruiting paths so often vs. the SEC school closest to Fayetteville, Van Horn knows firsthand the prowess of some Tigers awaiting Saturday in Columbia.

“We recruited some of those guys,” Van Horn said. “They recruited some of the guys we have. Obviously they’re the closest university to us that we play in the league, so there’s going to be some familiarity a little bit through the recruiting process.”

Led by first baseman Torin Montgomery, .364, center fielder Ty Wilsmeyer, .361, right fielder Ross Lovich, .350 and shortstop Josh Day, .323, Mizzou bats .297 as a team.

That’s 21 points above Arkansas’ team batting average, though with seven fewer home runs.

“They haven’t hit for power but they’ve hit,” Van Horn said.

And they run–33 stolen bases in 36 attempts, to Arkansas’ 13 of 15.

The Tigers never got to run against Vanderbilt, with the Commodores jumping early to two big leads and one game with Mizzou starter Austin Troesser lifted after two scoreless innings and the bullpen then shelled.

Right-handers Troesser, 3-0, 2.21 earned run average, and Spencer Miles, 2-1, 5.19 and lefty Nathan Landry, 1-1, 4.19 are expected to comprise Mizzou’s pitching rotation this weekend.

Arkansas will go with its every weekend rotation of senior right-hander Connor Noland, 3-1, 3.07, tonight,  freshman lefty Hagen Smith, 4-1, 3.08 Saturday and sophomore right-hander Jaxon Wiggins, 3-0, 3.38.

All three starters pitched well, sweeping Kentucky in last weekend’s SEC season opening at Baum-Walker Stadium with help from relievers Zebulon Vermillion, Evan Taylor, Brady Tygart and Kole Ramage.

Catcher Michael Turner, .369,  first baseman Peyton Stovall, .313 and second baseman Robert Moore, .292 swung big bats against Kentucky.

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