Razorbacks Host Wildcats Tonight

FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas’ first of 10 3-game SEC baseball series begins at Baum-Walker Stadium tonight.

The Razorbacks, 13-3, host the Kentucky Wildcats, 14-4, at 6:30 tonight, 6:30 Saturday night and noon Sunday.

Coach Dave Van Horn’s Razorbacks play their first SEC game since last year winning the SEC, including taking at least 2 of 3 every series and sweeping eventual national champion Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., and winning the SEC Tournament.

They face a hard-hitting Kentucky crew (.324 team batting average) coached by Nick Mingione.

“They are very offensive,” Van Horn said.

Kentucky third baseman Chase Estep looms especially offensive batting .471 with seven home runs and 21 RBI while second baseman Daniel Harris bats .391 and first baseman Jacob Plastiak hits  .329 with six home runs and 23 RBI.

Statistically Kentucky’s pitching (5.55 team earned run average) doesn’t match its pitching.

Kentucky starters Seth Logue, 1-1, Magdiel Cotto, 1-1, and Cole Stupp, 2-0, bear ERA’s of 5.40, 7.70 and 7.71.

Arkansas winning the last eight straight at Baum-Walker, keeps its weekend starting pitching rotation intact.

Senior right-hander Connor Noland, 2-1, 3.52, starts tonight.   Freshman lefty Hagen Smith, 3-1, 2.66 starts Saturday night. 

Jaxon Wiggins, 2-0, 4.35, starts Sunday.

Arkansas sophomore third baseman Cayden Wallace of Greenbrier starts the first SEC weekend off being the SEC Co-Player of the Week and the Collegiate Baseball publications National Player of the Week, after hitting three home runs, two were grand slams, in a 4-game series sweep of Illinois-Chicago.

Wallace .333 batting average, and catcher Michael Turner, .369 and four home runs, tie for the team RBI lead at 20.

Designated hitter-outfielder Chris Lanzilli leads for average .375.

While deemed the league’s bluest basketball blue blood, Kentucky baseball generally rates mid pack or lower.

However might the Wildcats taking 2 of 3 from Big 12 baseball power TCU captured Van Horn’s attention?

“ Believe me, they’ve already got my attention even if they had lost that series to TCU,” Van Horn, whose Hogs have waged some intense baseball weekends with the Wildcats,  said. “They are always good.”

Besides, Van Horn said, in the SEC standings every SEC game 

“counts the same.”

“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” Van Horn said.   “It’s one win or one loss and you get 30 shots at it.”

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