May 28, 2011; Hoover, AL, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks pitcher Colby Suggs (34) pitches against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the SEC Tournament at Regions Park. The Commodores defeated the Razorbacks 3-2 to advance to the SEC Championship game on Sunday. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

SEC College Baseball Preview: No. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. No. 15 LSU Tigers

 

Last weekend the SEC matchup of the week was No. 1 Florida on the road against then No. 8 South Carolina. This week’s SEC college baseball game of the week features No. 3 Arkansas against No. 15 LSU inBaton Rouge.

The Hogs (22-3, 5-1) wrapped up their second SEC series win in as many tries last weekend by taking two out of three games against Mississippi State (2-11, 8-0, and 8-5). The road series win was the first for Arkansas since beating Vanderbilt at the end of the 2010 season.

Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn learned about his team’s resolve throughout the weekend series against MSU. Of the 22 games the Razorbacks had previously played all but three were at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

On Friday’s opening series game D.J. Baxendale had his first rough start of the year giving up seven earned runs in three innings of work.

The Hogs bounced back on Saturday behind the pitching performance of right-hander Ryne Stanek. Stanek threw 6.1 scoreless innings of three-hit ball to earn his sixth victory of the season.

Sunday’s rubber match tested the Hogs deep bullpen and hitting. Sunday starter Randall Font threw one inning giving up two earned runs on 21 pitches.

The Razorbacks relied on Nolan Sanburn, Brandon Moore, Barrett Astin, Colby Suggs, Trent Daniel, and Cade Lynch for a combined 10 innings of work out of the bullpen only allowing three runs the rest of the way. Lynch earned his second save of the year closing out the final two outs of the game.

The Hogs started the 11th inning rally behind Bo Bingham with the score tied at 3-3 after MSU scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to force the extra frames. Bingham, Dominic Ficociello, Joe Serrano, Derrick Bleecker, and Jimmy Bosco all scored runs to extend the lead to 8-3 before MSU pushed the final to 8-5.

With no mid-week series scheduled, the Razorbacks enter the LSU series with rested arms and anxious bats.

LSU (19-6, 3-3) is coming off a 1-2 series road loss to the Auburn Tigers (3-4, 2-3 (10), and 4-3). The Tiger’s grit and determination was tested after starting centerfielder Chris Sciambra was carted off the field with a broken neck after running into the wall in Sunday’s game.

Sciambra suffered a non-displaced fracture of the C-1 vertebra on the play. LSU released a statement on Monday assuring college baseball fans that Sciambra had no spinal column problems and is expected to make a full recovery in time to play next season.

The Tigers won a mid-week one game series against Louisiana Lafayette that ended in a 5-0 shutout; the seventh shutout of the season for the Tiger pitching staff.

LSU head coach Paul Mainieri will give the ball to Kevin Gausman (4-0, 1.54 ERA) on Friday night and Ryan Eades (4-1, 2.04 ERA) on Saturday. Both pitchers are right-handed sophomores. Mainieri has not declared a Sunday starter.

The Tigers have only collected three saves on the season, two by Nick Goody. Goody has a team high 14 appearances while posting a 1.50 ERA.

Arkansas will counter with D.J. Baxendale (5-1, 4.15 ERA) on Friday and Ryne Stanek (6-0, 1.25 ERA) the following day. Van Horn has not announced a starter for Sunday’s game as well.

LSU is led at the plate by juniors Ralph Rhymes and Mason Katz. Rhymes not only leads LSU in average (.479) and hits (46) but also leads all SEC players in the same categories. Katz, hitting .360, has the team high in homeruns (5) and RBI (24).

Matt Reynolds leads the Razorbacks in batting average (.361), RBI (19), and on base percentage (.481).

Co-SEC player of the week, Tim Carver (shortstop/second base), is hitting .348 on the season with six doubles and an Arkansas team high 31 hits. Carver earned SEC player of the week honors after posting a .400 batting average against the Bulldogs (6-15).

First baseman Dominic Ficociello is third on the team with a .326 batting average. His 25 runs scored led the Hogs.

All three games at Alex Box Stadium will be televised. Friday’s game at 7 p.m. will be carried by Comcast Sports Southeast, Saturday’s game at 7 p.m. can be seen on ESPNU, and Sunday’s finale at 1 p.m. will be covered by Cox Sports Television. All start times are CST.

 

Common Opponent: Mississippi State

Arkansas: 2-1 (2-11, 8-0, and 8-5)

LSU: 2-1 (3-2, 4-3 (10), and 1-7)

 

Inside the Numbers

Here’s a team by team comparison of statistical numbers based on national rankings. All rankings are through games played before March 25.

 

Pitching

 

Team ERA

Razorbacks: 2.53, No. 8

Tigers: 3.20, No. 48

 

Strikeouts per nine innings

Razorbacks: 8.3, No. 28

Tigers: 8.7 No. 11

 

Hits Allowed Per Nine

Razorbacks: 6.95, No. 8

Tigers: 8.31, No. 66

 

Offense:

Scoring

Razorbacks: 6.7, No. 49

Tigers: 7.4, No. 21

 

Batting Average

Razorbacks: .296, No. 60

Tigers: .306, No. 35

 

Runs

Razorbacks: 167, in 25 games, No. 28

Tigers: 177 in 24 games, No. 15

 

Doubles

Razorbacks: 49, No. 40

Tigers: 53, No. 24

 

Fielding Percentage

Razorbacks: .967, No. 116

Total Errors: 33

PO: 684

Assist: 285

 

Tigers: .977, No. 31

Total Errors: 21

PO: 650

Assist: 233

 

Series Notes

Arkansas swept LSU last year at Baum Stadium

Arkansas has lost three straight series at Alex Box Stadium

LSU holds a 15-8 win-loss record against the Hogs dating to 2006

 

An Outside Perspective

Aaron Fitt of Baseball America was asked during an online Q&A about this weekend’s Razorback vs. Tigers series.

“I like Arkansas considerably more than I like LSU this year, and I think Arkansas is good enough to go into Baton Rouge and win two of three, just as Florida was good enough to win two of three on the road against South Carolina. I think Arkansas is a better offensive team that is more likely to get more big hits against front-line pitching, but it should be a competitive series.”

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Tags: Alex Box Stadium Arkansas Arkansas Razorbacks Barrett Astin Baseball Baton Rouge Chris Sciambra College Baseball D.J. Baxendale Dave Van Horn Dominic Ficociell Hogs Vs. Tigers LSU Mississippi State No.3 Arkansas Vs. No. 15 LSU Paul Mainieri Razorbacks Ryne Stanek SEC SEC Baseball Preview Arkansas Vs. LSU Tim Carver University Of Arkansas

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