Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Walt Beazley)
HOOVER, Ala. (Univ. of Ark.) - After picking up an extra-innings victory over No. 21 Ole Miss on Wednesday morning, the 15th-ranked Arkansas baseball team continues play in the SEC Tournament on Thursday as it faces No. 2 LSU in a winner's bracket game. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Arkansas is 36-19 on the season and opened the SEC Tournament on Wednesday with a 2-1 win in 10 innings over Ole Miss. The Razorbacks scored the game-winning run on a walk-off wild pitching in the bottom of the 10th. Barrett Astin and Jalen Beeks were dominant on the mound. Astin tied a career-high with eight innings, allowing a run on five hits, while Beeks earned the win after tossing two scoreless innings. Offensively, Arkansas had 11 hits, led by Matt Vinson, who went 3-for-5 with a run scored. Brian Anderson, Dominic Ficociello and Joe Serrano each had two hits in the victory.
The Razorbacks are hitting .262 as a team entering Thursday's game. Anderson leads the Razorbacks at the plate with a .353 batting average, four homers and 33 RBI. Anderson is 18-for-32 (.563) with seven RBI over his last nine games. Vinson is batting .295 with two homers and 22 RBI, while Serrano has a .284 batting average with a homer and 16 RBI. Jacob Mahan is also hitting .284 with two homers and 20 RBI.
The Razorback pitching staff leads the country with a team ERA of 1.88. Junior right-handed pitcher Ryne Stanek will get the start on Thursday. Stanek has compiled an 8-2 record with a 1.54 ERA in 14 starts this season. Stanek finished SEC play with a 7-1 record and a 0.97 ERA. He closed the regular season ranked second in the SEC in ERA and first in ERA in conference games only.
The Arkansas bullpen has compiled an 11-7 record with 17 saves and a 1.74 ERA. Beeks has pitched in a team-leading 26 games and has a 6-1 record with two saves and a 1.70 ERA. Colby Suggs leads the team with 11 saves, 10 of those in conference play, and has a 2.04 ERA in 20 appearances. Suggs is one save shy of tying the Arkansas record for saves in a single season. Brandon Moore has pitched in 21 games and has a 1-3 mark with a 2.47 ERA. Trent Daniel has seen time in 20 games and is 0-1 with one save and a 2.35 ERA. Michael Gunn has pitched in 15 games and has a 1-0 record with one save and has only allowed one run in 25.1 innings.
LSU brings a 49-8 overall record into Thursday's contest. The Tigers won the SEC Western Division regular season title, finishing the league slate with a 23-7 record. LSU played its first game in the SEC Tournament on Wednesday, blanking Alabama, 3-0.
The Tigers are hitting .312 as a team and are led offensively by Alex Bregman, who is batting .394 with five homers and 49 RBI. Mason Katz leads LSU with 14 homers and 64 RBI and has a .387 batting average. Raph Rhymes is hitting .344 with four home runs and 43 RBI, while Christian Ibarra has a .333 batting average with six homers and 35 RBI. Sean McMullen is batting .326 with two homers and 26 RBI.
LSU's pitching staff has a team ERA of 2.48. The Tigers are scheduled to start sophomore right hander Aaron Nola on Thursday. Nola has started 13 games on the season and has a 10-0 record with a 1.99 ERA.
Out of the bullpen, Chris Cotton is tied for the team lead with 30 appearances and has a team-best 13 saves and a 3-1 record with a 1.57 ERA. Joey Bourgeois has also pitched in 30 games and is 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA. Nick Rumbelow has seen time in 26 games, 25 in relief, and is 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA. Kevin Berry and Brent Bonvillain have each pitched in 18 games. Berry is 4-1 with a 2.35 ERA, while Bonvillain is 2-0 with a 2.97 ERA.
Arkansas trails the all-time series against LSU 56-27. The Razorbacks and Tigers have played seven times in the SEC Tournament with LSU winning five of the seven meetings. LSU won two of three games over Arkansas in the regular season series at Baum Stadium. After splitting the first two games of the series, the Tigers claimed the three-game set with a 5-3 win in 10 innings in the series finale.
Thursday's game will be televised by SportSouth and will also be
available on ESPN3. The game 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.