FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Not every day two top 5 teams in the country square off. Arkansas fans are lucky, then, because they will get to see such a matchup three days instead of just one.
The fifth-ranked Razorbacks are set to host No. 4 Kentucky in a three-game set this weekend from Baum Stadium. Kentucky, by the way, just jumped to the top team in SEC Country’s baseball power poll Monday. The Wildcats are no joke.
What a way to start SEC play, eh?
Playing in the best conference in the country yields such series. Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn tested his team in the nonconference, playing five opponents who are either expected to make the NCAA Tournament (Arizona, Kent State and Texas) or should be on the bubble if they don’t win their league tournament (Cal Poly, San Diego and San Diego State). None of them do what Kentucky does, though.
The Wildcats lead the SEC in batting average, slugging and are second in on-base percentage. Their Friday starter, Sean Hjelle, is the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Year. Most recently, they took two of three from then-fifth-ranked Texas Tech.
If there is a weakness, it’s the pitching behind Hjelle. Justin Lewis, expected to start Sunday, hasn’t been nearly the pitcher he was in 2017. In fact, no starter has an earned-run average lower than Lewis’ 4.07, except Hjelle. Wildcats pitchers are hittable.
Arkansas will need to take advantage of that to win the series. The lineup has been up and down, but better lately against higher-quality opponents. Whatever happens, as long as Kentucky doesn’t sweep by a total of double-digit runs, it’s OK. In fact, if Arkansas does that, get pumped. Things could be magnificent.
Arkansas baseball vs. Kentucky series information
Friday, March 16, 2018 — 6:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, March 17, 2018 — 2 p.m. CT
Sunday, March 18, 2018 — 1 p.m. CT
Friday, March 16, 2018 — Arkansas RHP Blaine Knight (0.78 ERA, 3-0) vs. Kentucky RHP Sean Hjelle (1.35 ERA, 4-0)
Saturday, March 17, 2018 — Arkansas RHP Isaiah Campbell (2.00 ERA, 1-2) vs. TBA
Sunday, March 18, 2018 — TBA vs. Justin Lewis (4.07 ERA, 4.07)
How can I watch?
All three games are on SEC Network+ and the WatchESPN app.
Who is calling the Arkansas game?
Brett Dolan has the TV play-by-play with Troy Eklund as analyst. Phil Elson and Bubba Carpenter will have the radio call on the IMG Sports Network.
Two more with the Cats. One Saturday. One Sunday. Diamond Hogs then head to the road after that for a two-game midweek series against a subpar Charlotte bunch.
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