Fayetteville, Ark.– The Arkansas Razorback baseball team closed the season in a fashion expected but not seen throughout the regular season, winning a SEC series. Unfortunately for the Hogs series wins in 2012 conference play were few and far between.
On Thursday D.J. Baxendale saved his best pitching performance of the year for his last regular season game. Baxendale threw eight innings of scoreless baseball while scattering two hits and striking out seven. Tyler Wright came in to close the game out in the ninth inning to preserve the win.
For Baxendale’s efforts he was awarded SEC Pitcher of the Week by the SEC.
Propelling the Razorbacks to victory was an explosion of offense not typically seen throughout the season. Left fielder Derrick Bleeker hit two homeruns, seven on the year, for three RBI.
Third baseman Matt Reynolds and right fielder Brian Anderson each added a homerun leading Arkansas to an 8-0 win.
The opening series win over Tennessee was only the third win against an SEC opponent during the 2012 season- Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
The Hogs won five of the ten SEC series they played beating Alabama, Mississippi State, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee while sweeping the two worse teams in the SEC in terms of win-loss records- Alabama and Tennessee.
In game two of the series starting pitcher Ryne Stanek threw 0.2 innings before being hit by a line drive on his pitching shoulder (right). Stanek was diagnosed with a bruised right shoulder. His effectiveness going forward will depend on how his shoulder responds to treatments.
Cade Lynch (3-1) picked up the win on Friday after completing 3.1 innings replacing Stanek. Brandon Moore (3.0 innings) and Trent Daniel (2.0) finished the game out of the bullpen for the Hogs.
The Razorbacks pounded Tennessee starter Nick Williams for 11 hits over 5.1 innings scoring eight earned runs. Bo Bingham went 4-4 at the plate while Sam Bates, Derrick Bleeker, Brian Anderson collected two hits each in game two.
Saturday’s season finale saw the Hogs post 10 runs on the Vols’ pitching staff, eight earned. Four Arkansas pitchers combined to limit Tennessee to two runs, unearned, off seven hits.
Brian Anderson continued his hot hitting streak finishing the game 2-4 with 3 RBI.
In total the Hogs racked up 13 hits giving the team 39 hits over the three-game series (14 Sunday and 12 Thursday) while scoring 26 total runs.
The wins are great because the offense was producing but errors still plague the Razorback defense. Over the series the team committed four errors (SS Tim Carver 1, 2B Bo Bingham 2, and RF Brian Anderson 1) leading to three unearned runs for the Vols.
Through the season the Hogs lost seven one-run games in conference (LSU twice, Kentucky twice, Ole Miss once, Florida once, and Auburn once). Arkansas won four games by one run against Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Auburn.
If the Hogs look to make a run not only in the SEC Tournament but in the NCAA Tournament greater attention to defense is a must. For the season the Razorbacks have given up 196 total runs of those 169 were earned, a difference of 27 runs in 56 games.
The other two concerns for the Hogs entering the post season are Ryne Stanek’s health and the Arkansas offense.
Can Stanek and his bruised shoulder perform at the level of a college baseball ace during the tournaments? Stanek is set to start for the Hogs in their SEC Tournament opener.
Can Brian Anderson (.309) be the spark plug or extra bat to get hot sorely needed throughout the season? Matt Reynolds (.347), Tim Carver (.317) and Dominic Ficociello (.314) are the only starters hitting above .300 for the season.
News and Notes
The Hogs begin SEC Tournament play on Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
Arkansas received the sixth seed and Mississippi State earned the seventh seed.
Mississippi State has not named a starter for Tuesday’s game.
MSU has won 11 of their last 15 games.
The Bulldogs have the best team ERA in the SEC 2.64 but the second to worst team batting average .253.
Arkansas’ 3.00 ERA is third best in conference while their team batting average of .283 is fifth best in the SEC.
SEC Tournament Seeds:
No. 1 LSU
No. 2 South Carolina
No. 3 Florida
No. 4 Kentucky
No. 5 Vanderbilt
No. 6 Arkansas
No. 7 Mississippi State
No. 8 Georgia
No. 9 Ole Miss
No. 10 Auburn
First Round SEC Games:
Kentucky vs. Ole Miss
Arkansas vs. Mississippi State
Florida vs. Auburn
Vanderbilt vs. Georgia
*LSU and South Carolina received a first round bye
Topics: 2012 SEC Baseball Tournament, 2012 SEC Tournament Schedule, Arkansas, Arkansas Razorbacks, College Baseball, D.J. Baxendale, Fayetteville, Hogs Face Bulldogs In SEC Opener, Mississippi State, Ryne Stanek, Tennessee, Vols Baseball