SEC Baseball: No. 16 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. No. 24 Ole Miss Rebels


If the Razorbacks could have a home away from home in SEC baseball Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field would be one of those fields. The Arkansas versus Mississippi romp is coming just in time for the Razorbacks as they are in dire need of a SEC series victory.

Arkansas holds an 18-12 record against Ole Miss in Oxford having won seven of the last ten series played at Swayze Field. If the Hogs can replicate their 2010 success of a 2-1 series win the Razorbacks can hold ground in the SEC West for another week and possibly gain traction on SEC West frontrunner LSU.

The No. 16 Arkansas Razorbacks have won three of five SEC series in 2012. Their two series losses came by the way of a sweep on the road at No. 1 LSU and a 2-1 home-loss to No. 2 Kentucky. Four of the five losses between the Tigers and Wildcats were heartbreaking one-run defeats.

For most college baseball teams losing either series would not be a disheartening situation. The Razorbacks, once No. 3 in the nation, expect to not only contend for the SEC West title but also a trip to Omaha in June.

Since the LSU series Arkansas is 5-6 with two wins against Georgia, one against Kentucky, and a midweek doubleheader win over Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday.

As the race for the SEC divisional titles begin to shape up, the Hogs are in trouble of not only falling out of the contention for the SEC West title but could be in jeopardy of being a middle of the pack SEC West team should they lose their series to Ole Miss.

The next three weekend series for the Razorbacks, including Ole Miss, all come against ranked teams (at No. 4 Florida April 27-29 and home versus No. 13 South Carolina May 4-6). Arkansas is 2-5 against ranked teams in 2012 with wins coming against then No. 21 Texas and No. 3 Kentucky.

Razorback manager Dave Van Horn will have a better idea of the road ahead for the Hogs win or lose at Oxford. A series sweep or outright win could move the Hogs into a tie with LSU for tops in the SEC West should the Tigers lose toKentuckyon the road.

A series loss more than likely will drop the Hogs into third place in the West with the possibility of being six games out of first.

Ole Miss enters the Arkansas series in a similar position as the Razorbacks but with the possibility of an upward trend in the rankings. Of their five SEC series they have only won one (Alabama).

Both Arkansas and Ole Miss have played Kentucky and Georgia in a three game set. Ole Miss dropped two games to both teams.

The Rebels played a one game nonconference game against Mississippi State on Tuesday winning 6-3. Arkansas took two of three from the Bulldogs March 23-25.

Despite having only won one SEC series the Rebels remain one game behind the Hogs for second place in the West with the toughest part of their conference schedule behind them. LSU is the lone ranked team remaining on Mississippi’s schedule.

The Rebels have the second best hitting team in the SEC (.315). Five players hit above .300 with one at .299. Outfielders Alex Yarbrough .421, Matt Snyder .363, and Tanner Mathis .348 are second, fourth and seventh respectively in the SEC in batting average.

Infielder Blake Newalu (.340), catcher/infielder Will Allen (.325), and infielder/outfielder Preston Overbey (.299) are hitters capable of causing problems for any pitching staff they come across as well.

Outfielder Zach Kirksey adds power with his .292 average. He has 10 homeruns in 27 games started.

Brett Huber is the primary closer for Ole Miss. He has a 1-2 record with seven saves posting a 4.85 ERA.

R.J. Hively is one of the three Rebel pitchers manager Mike Bianco has regularly started in SEC play. Hively is not listed as a starter for Sunday’s game.

Series Outlook

If the Hogs can beat sophomore pitcher Bobby Wahl (5-0, 2.13 ERA) Friday night, they have a strong chance of sweeping the series as long as the Hogs play error free ball in the field.

Beating Wahl is a tough task. He has proven to be a top college baseball pitcher in 2012 with wins against Florida, Auburn, Houston, and TCU.

Arkansas is changing up their Friday starter for the third time this year. Brandon Moore is moving out of the bullpen to take the mound for Arkansas. D.J. Baxendale and Ryne Stanek previously started for the Razorbacks to open their series.

Stanek moves back to his Saturday spot and Baxendale will close out the series.

Barrett Astin got the last two Saturday starts for the Hogs.

The move to Moore on Friday maybe more of a strategy to ensure a win on Saturday and Sunday with Baxendale and Stanek pitching than Moore immerging as the new Friday starter for Arkansas.

Pitching Rotations


Arkansas, Sophomore, RHP, Brandon Moore (3-0, .095 ERA)

Ole Miss, Sophomore, RHP, Bobby Wahl (5-0, 2.13 ERA)


Arkansas, Sophomore, Ryne Stanek (6-1, 2.41 ERA)

Ole Miss, Sophomore, RHP, Mike Mayers (3-2, 4.15 ERA)


Arkansas, Junior, RHP, D.J. Baxendale (6-2, 3.88 ERA)

Ole Miss, TBA

*Ole Miss pitcher Tanner Bailey is from Little Rock, Ark. via Texarkana Community College.

Top Team Batting Averages in the SEC


Ole Miss .315

Auburn .303

LSU .302

Florida .292

Georgia .282

South Carolina .277

Arkansas .280

Top Team ERA in the SEC

Arkansas 2.73

LSU 2.96

South Carolina 2.98

Florida 3.10

Mississippi State 3.15

Ole Miss 3.36

* All averages are taken through April 15.

** All rankings taken from Collegiate Baseball

SEC East (Overall Record, SEC Record)

Kentucky 33-5, 11-4

Florida 29-8, 9-6

South Carolina 27-11, 8-7

Georgia 23-15, 7-8

Tennessee 22-15, 7-8

Vanderbilt 17-20, 6-9

SEC West (Overall Record, SEC Record)

LSU 31-7, 11-4

Arkansas 27-10, 8-7

Auburn 21-16, 7-8

Ole Miss 25-12, 7-8

Mississippi State 21-16, 5-10

Alabama 14-24, 4-11