Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Walt Beazley)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - The No. 14 Arkansas baseball team heads on the road in SEC play for the second straight weekend as it travels to Lexington, Ky., to face the 23rd-ranked Kentucky Wildcats. Game times for the weekend series are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. on Sunday.
The Razorbacks enter the weekend series on a five-game winning streak. Arkansas is 30-15 on the season and 13-7 in league play. The Razorbacks are second in the SEC Western Division, 2.5 games behind division leader LSU. Arkansas is coming off a 6-3 win over Missouri State on Tuesday night. Eight different Razorback pitchers combined to allow three runs on five hits and strike out nine. Dominic Ficociello had three hits and scored two runs, while Jordan Farris was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Jacob Mahan had two RBI in the win.
The Razorbacks are hitting .264 as a team. Brian Anderson leads Arkansas at the plate with a .316 batting average, two homers and 26 RBI. Farris is hitting .305 with three homers and 14 RBI, while Mahan is batting .295 with two homers and 18 RBI. Joe Serrano is swinging the bat at a .293 clip with a homer and 15 RBI. Tyler Spoon leads the team with 39 RBI and has a .292 batting average with three homers.
The Razorback pitching staff leads the country with a team ERA of 1.78 and also leads the nation with 6.36 hits allowed per nine innings. Junior right hander Barrett Astin will start the series opener on Friday. Astin, who was named SEC Pitcher of the Week on Monday, has a 3-2 record with a 2.02 ERA in 13 appearances, including nine starts. Junior righty Ryne Stanek will start Saturday's game. Stanek is 5-2 with a 1.60 ERA in 11 starts. Senior southpaw Randall Fant will get the nod in the series finale on Sunday. Fant has a 4-1 record with a 2.34 ERA in nine starts.
The Arkansas bullpen has compiled a 10-5 record with 14 saves and a 1.40 ERA. Jalen Beeks has pitched in a team-high 21 games and has a 5-1 record with two saves and a 2.05 ERA. Colby Suggs has a team-leading eight saves and has a 1.98 ERA in 16 appearances. Brandon Moore has pitched in 15 games and is 1-2 with a 1.41 ERA. Trent Daniel has appeared in 15 games, 14 in relief, and is 0-1 with one save and a 1.40 ERA. Michael Gunn and Chris Oliver have each pitched in 12 games. Gunn has a 1-0 record with one save and a 0.40 ERA, while Oliver is 2-2 on the season with a 2.37 ERA.
Kentucky enters the weekend series with a 26-17 overall record and a 9-12 mark in conference play. The Wildcats are currently fourth in the SEC Eastern Division, 10 games back of division front runner, Vanderbilt. Kentucky is coming off a series victory last weekend at then-No. 16 Ole Miss.
The Wildcats are hitting .259 as a team and are led offensively by Kyle Barrett, who is hitting .347 with 11 RBI. A.J. Reed is batting .310 and has a team-high 10 homers and 46 RBI. J.T. Riddle has a .276 batting average with a homer and 19 RBI. Austin Cousino has stolen a team-high 12 bases and is hitting .256 with six homers and 25 RBI.
On the mound, the Wildcats have a team ERA of 3.41. Sophomore left hander A.J. Reed will start the series opener for Kentucky. Reed is 2-5 with a 2.88 ERA in 11 starts. Freshman right hander Kyle Cody will start the middle game of the series on Saturday. Cody has compiled a 3-2 record with a 5.49 ERA in 12 appearances, including seven starts. Junior southpaw Corey Littrell will make his 12th start of the season in the series finale on Sunday. Littrell is 5-3 with a 3.22 ERA on the season.
Walter Wijas has made a team-high 21 appearances out of the Kentucky bullpen. Wijas has a 2-0 record with a 0.78 ERA. Wildcat closer Trevor Gott has pitched in 20 games and has a team-leading 10 saves with a 4-1 record and a 1.33 ERA. Chandler Shepherd has seen time in 18 games, 17 in relief, and has a 3-0 record with a 3.43 ERA. Zach Strecker has pitched in 15 games and has a 1-1 record with a 2.40 ERA, while Ryan Combs has no record and a 1.40 ERA in 14 appearances.
The Razorbacks lead the all-time series vs. Kentucky, 33-22. Arkansas holds a slim 13-11 advantage when the two teams meet in Lexington. Kentucky has won the regular season series each of the last two years, including taking two of three from Arkansas last year at Baum Stadium.
All three games of the series will be televised with Friday and
Saturday's game on the Big Blue Sports Network and Sunday's game on Cox
Sports Television. The games will also be available on the Razorback
Baseball Radio Network from IMG. Three-time Arkansas Sportscaster of the
Year Chuck Barrett will have the call. A live blog and live stats for
each game of the series will be available on ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Series Schedule (Times Central and Subject to Change)
Friday, May 3 - 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 4 - 6 p.m.
Sunday, May 5 - 12 p.m.
Probable Pitching Matchups (Arkansas listed first)
Friday (5:30 p.m.)
RHP Barrett Astin (Jr., 3-2, 2.02) vs. LHP A.J. Reed (So., 2-5, 2.88)
Saturday (6 p.m.)
RHP Ryne Stanek (Jr., 5-2, 1.60) vs. RHP Kyle Cody (Fr., 3-2, 5.49)
Sunday (12 p.m.)
LHP Randall Fant (Sr., 4-1, 2.34) vs. LHP Corey Littrell (Jr., 5-3, 3.22)
Arkansas - No. 12 (Perfect Game), No. 14 (USA Today/Baseball America), No. 16 (NCBWA/Collegiate Baseball)
Kentucky - No. 19 (Perfect Game), No. 23 (USA Today/Baseball America), No. 26 (NCBWA)