SEC Baseball Preview: Wildcats vs. Razorbacks Highlight Weekend Games


After three straight weekends of exciting top 10 matchups offered throughout SEC play, the only paper series of note features No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats vs. No. 11 Arkansas Razorbacks at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark.

Beyond each team’s individual race to win their respective division is the cross divisional rival game pitting SEC East frontrunner Kentucky against SEC West second place team, Arkansas.

In week four of SEC action, LSU traveled to Gainesville winning the series 2-1. The game featured the top teams in the SEC at the time. Should Arkansas prevail against Kentucky, the top two SEC West teams will have knocked off the top two SEC East teams. Bragging rights reserved only for the recruiting trail and at the water cooler but an interest worth noting.

The Wildcats will start three lefties against the Hogs- Taylor Rogers, Jerad Grundy, and Corey Littrell. The Hogs are countering with Ryne Stanek, Barrett Astin, and D.J. Baxendale.

Barret Astin (0.84), Brandon Moore (1.09), and Ryne Stanek (1.65) are the top three pitchers in conference based on ERA. Stanek and Baxendale six wins each are second best among all SEC pitchers.

Corey Littrell enters the Arkansas series with a 5-0 record supported by his 2.02 ERA.

Austin Cousino leads Kentucky with a .355 batting average placing him fifth best in the SEC. Cousino has 13 doubles on the season tying him for second best in conference.

Kentucky will have to contend with Matt Reynolds and Dominic Ficociello at the plate. Reynolds leads the Hogs with a .346 average, 14th best in the SEC while Ficociello (.333) enters the series with a nine game hitting streak.

The Arkansas pitching staff will have to handle homerun hitters Luke Maile (9) and Cameron Flynn (8). Both players are ranked among the top three homerun hitters in conference.

Kentucky and Arkansas are both coming off upset losses from mid-week games. Kentucky lost 12-0 to in-state rival Louisville while the Hogs lost a road game to Oklahoma 4-0.

Other SEC Series Notes

Caution: A Tiger Feasting

LSU’s Ralph Rhymes gets a shot at Alabama pitching this weekend. Rhymes leads all SEC position players with a .465 average. His 34 runs batted in ranks fifth best in conference.

Alabama’s pitching rotation is statistically the worst in the SEC. Rhymes should have a dream weekend feasting on Bama’s 4.96 team ERA.

First team with a runner in scoring position wins!

Runs will be at a premium whenMississippiStatetravels toSouth Carolina. The series features the second and third best pitching staffs in the SEC. South Carolina’s team ERA is 2.86, MSU has a 2.93 ERA.

Neither team hits the ball very well- South Carolina .274, MSU .273.

Over/under on total runs scored for the entire weekend series could read like a football score- 7-3.

Cellar dwellers?

Auburnis coming off a disappointing series against in-state rivalAlabama. The Tigers were swept dropping them from SEC West contenders into a possible downfall.

By all accounts Vanderbilt has not been Vanderbilt this year. The Commodores are statistically at the bottom of the SEC in batting average (.271) and team ERA (4.52).

Whoever loses this series may have cemented their chances to be ousted from SEC Tournament action.

One and done?

Georgia did find home comfort by taking the SEC Thursday Night Game of The Week against Mississippi 8-4. The Bulldogs pounced on the Razorbacks in their opening game series last week winning 4-2 before losing the final two games of the series.

If Georgia can hold on to win this series, they could cost the Rebels serious ground in the SEC West race.

Hog fans cheering for Bama???

The Razorbacks have a tough enough series this weekend facing the Wildcats. Should the Hogs take two of three games, they will need some help from the Tide to take at least one game from LSU to keep pace with the SEC West leaders.

It’s one of those strange times when interdivisional rivals have to cheer for the enemy to win.

SEC Series: April 12-15

No. 18 Ole Miss at Georgia

No. 7 Florida at Tennessee

Mississippi State at No. 10 South Carolina

No. 3 Kentucky at No. 11 Arkansas

Alabama at No. 5 LSU

Auburn at Vanderbilt

SEC East (Overall Record, SEC Record)

Kentucky 30-4, 9-3

Florida 26-7, 7-5

Tennessee 20-13, 6-6

South Carolina 24-10, 5-7

Georgia 20-13, 6-7

Vanderbilt 14-19, 4-8

SEC West (Overall Record, SEC Record)

LSU 27-7, 8-4

Arkansas 24-8, 7-5

Auburn17-14, 6-6

Ole Miss 23-11, 6-7

Mississippi State 20-12, 5-7

Alabama 13-20, 4-8