It's been another two weeks since my last update (grad schools unfortunately takes time away from more important things, like baseball), but things are looking considerably brighter. After dropping their first 3 SEC series, the Hogs are now on a 6 game win streak, including a rare SEC series sweep, over none other than LSU.
If you'll refer back to the last Diamond Hog Update, I mentioned something about a midweek game against Oklahoma. Well, that game never happened. It was officially cancelled due to "weather", but I don't remember the weather being that bad in Fayetteville that day.
Following that, the Razorbacks travelled to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide, but dropped the Friday and Saturday games by scores of 3-5, before finally salvaging the rubber match, 4-3. That win, however, would provide the momentum for a 6-game win streak that brought the Hogs back into contention for the SEC West.
After the Alabama series, the Razorbacks returned to Baum to post a 6-5 win over Texas State. Texas State is not the scrub that their name implies; they're a perennial conference winner, and are currently projected to be the 2-seed in the Austin, TX, regional.
Next up: LSU... and what a sweet series it was. I hope some of you got to check out the game that was televised on ESPNU. One of the best baseball games I've seen in a while.
The Hogs shutout the (then) #17 Tigers 2-0 in Game One, behind a strong showing from pitchers DJ Baxendale (sophmore), Barrett Astin (true freshman), and closer (and true freshman) Nolan Sanburn.
Game Two, televised on ESPNU, was a much more exciting affair. It's a good thing, too, as a record crowd of 11,103 (actual) was onhand for the game. After both teams go scoreless through the first 8 innings, LSU comes alive in the top of the 9th with 3 runs, almost ensuring that the series victory would have to be decided on Sunday. Problem is (for the Tigers), the Hogs don't give up when they get behind. Collin Kuhn leads off the inning with a HBP, and takes second on a "defensive indifference" call (LSU's 2B forgot to cover the base when Kuhn attempted to steal). Sam Bates drove him home on an RBI single to put the Hogs on the board. Three batters later, James McCann deposits a 3-run walkoff homer in the Hog Pen to clinch Arkansas' first SEC series victory of the season. See the video here.
Game Three provided it's own excitement, with the Hogs again winning in walk-off fashion. Tied at 4 through 8 innings, P Cade Lynch holds LSU at bay in the top of the 9th, opening the door for the Hogs to complete the sweep in the bottom of the inning. Bo Bigham led off the inning with a stand-up double. Matt Reynolds laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Bigham to third, but the LSU P bobbles the ball and Robinson reaches safetly. LSU then intentionally walks Sam Bates, loading the bases with no outs, to set-up a force-out at home. It wouldn't matter, though, as Kyle Robinson hits a sacrifice fly to center to score Bigham for the win.
Finally, the Diamond Hogs travelled to Springfield, MO, this past Tuesday and notched a 2-1 win over Missouri State in a pitchers duel.
So, despite the gloom and doom that early season elicited, the Hogs have seemed to have found new life. The Razorbacks currently sit at 24-8 (6-6 SEC), good for 2nd place in the West (and only one game out of 1st place). The RPI of ~50 and SoS of 200+ have been replaced by 14 and 28, respectively, so that gives you some indication of exactly how competitive the SEC is. And, despite losing their first 3 SEC series, the Hogs are still ranked (in the range of 15-20) in most of the major polls. This weekend, Arkansas hosts the Mississippi St. Bulldogs, before travelling to Tulsa to take on Oral Roberts during the midweek and Lexington for an SEC road series against Kentucky. I'm glad I had happier news to report this time around