LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The 2020 Little Rock baseball season throws out the first pitch this weekend when the Trojans welcome Illinois State to Gary Hogan Field for a three game series. Game one is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. Saturday game two and a Sunday 1 p.m. first pitch for game three.
 
Scouting the Redbirds
Illinois State finished the 2019 season at 36-26 and 14-7 in the Missouri Valley Conference, tying for the regular season championship. The Redbirds qualified for the NCAA tournament and came within a run of defeating preseason number one Louisville in the regionals to advance to the Super Regionals.
 
Series History
This weekend's series is the first meeting all-time between Little Rock and Illinois State. The Trojans are 12-29 all-time against current members of the Missouri Valley Conference and this is the second-straight season Little Rock will host a MVC team at Gary Hogan Field (Evansville – 2019).
 
Weekend Rotation
 The pitching probables for this weekend against Illinois State are as follows:
Friday: RHP Hayden Arnold (LR) vs. LHP Colton Johnson (ILLST)
Saturday: RHP Eli Sievert (LR) vs. RHP Brett Wicklund (ILLST)
Sunday: RHP Aaron Funk (LR) vs. Sean Sinisko (ILLST)
 
Keeping Up With the Trojans
Games one (Friday) and three (Sunday) of the weekend series will be available to watch through Little Rock All-Access. Saturday's game will not be streamed due to the Little Rock women's basketball game starting at the same time. Live stats from each game is available at TrojanStats.com.
 
Five Things To Know
 
1. There is a long and friendly history with Trojan coaches Chris Curry and R.D. Spiehs and Illinois State head coach Steve Holm. The three were teammates in the San Francisco Giants minor league system, playing for the Double AA Norwich Navigators
 
2. Friday's game marks the return of Kale Emshoff to the Trojan lineup. Emshoff missed the entire 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery but had a strong fall season, including a pair of home runs in a fall exhibition win over Missouri. Despite missing the entire season, Emshoff was named a preseason All-Sun Belt selection by the league's coaches.
 
3. Illinois State is one of six NCAA tournament teams from 2019 the Trojans will face this season, but the only one that will make the other trip to Gary Hogan Field. The other five (McNeese, Oklahoma State, Southern Miss, Arkansas and Coastal Carolina) will all be road games for the Trojans.
 
4. A handful of new faces will make their debuts in Trojan uniforms this weekend as Little Rock needs to replace seven position players and nine pitchers from the 2019 squad. Some of the lone returners among the lineup for the Trojans are expected to be preseason All-Sun Belt third baseman Garrett Scott, Eldrige Figueroa and Nathan Lyons as the trio combined for 111 starts last season.
 
5. This season's Trojan squad is one of the most widespread in program history as 12 different states and Puerto Rico are represented on the 2020 roster. Texas has the most Trojans with seven, followed by five from Florida and four each from Arkansas and Mississippi. California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota and Utah are all represented by this year's Little Rock team.