Note: These aren’t official matchups. Just educated guesses.
Game 1: Blaine Knight (11-0, 2.74 ERA) vs. Adam Hill (7-5, 3.99 ERA)
So right off the bat things are going to look different for the Gamecocks. In the regular season series opener they went to freshman Logan Chapman and he threw a solid four innings. In the SEC Tournament things were much worse, throwing a line of 1.1 IP, 3 H, 6 ER, 2 K, 3 BB. That was the last appearance Chapman had, not pitching in the regional. Instead South Carolina opens with Adam Hill, who threw the first game of their series ending double header with a line of 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 5 K, 3 BB.
Arkansas goes with Blaine Knight, the clear choice for the Hogs. Knight had what was one of his worst starts of the year against South Carolina. It still wasn’t bad, it just shows how good Knight has been this year. He threw four innings, gave up six hits and just one earned run. But his control wasn’t there and his high pitch count had him pulled early. The series opener against South Carolina was the only SEC home loss this year, and this weekend Arkansas will want to reverse that outcome.
Game 2: Kacey Murphy (8-4, 2.86 ERA) vs. Cody Morris (8-3, 3.68 ERA)
Murphy had faced South Carolina twice this year. In the first matchup he was electric, giving up just one hit in six innings and striking out six. The second matchup in the SEC Tournament he got through five innings giving up just two hits and one run. Then in the sixth inning things came unravelled for him, giving up five runs in the frame. Arkansas will choose to believe that it was just Murphy taking the foot off the gas with a 10-1 lead. South Carolina will be confident they’ve seen Murphy enough to confidently hit off him.
In the second game of the regular season double header, Morris was good, but again the Razorback pitchers were just a little better. He allowed 0 earned runs in five innings but still was tagged with the loss. Morris has been pitching very well as of late, including a line of 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 7 K, 4 BB against East Carolina in their regional.
Game 3: Isaiah Campbell (4-6, 4.17 ERA) vs. Camren Mlodzinski (3-5, 4.84 ERA)
Mlodzinski is who replaced Chapman in the regionals last weekend. He threw five innings and allowed three earned runs, keeping South Carolina just ahead the entire time he was in. Campbell, statistically speaking, almost has to have a better game than his last time out. I mean he just has to get an out to do that. He did have an excellent start, giving up just two hits in five innings, in his start against South Carolina this year so he has that to give Hog fans confidence.
If this game three is necessary, it will be winner take all which means all hands on deck for the win. Don’t expect either pitcher to go very deep unless they are constantly throwing zeroes up on the board.
Arkansas will be perfectly content to use only their three headed dragon this weekend, as the super regional format favors Arkansas’ staff more than the regional one does. Matt Cronin (12 saves, 3.05 ERA) will be there for end of game situations. Barrett Loseke (2-2, 3.35 ERA) can handle any potential middle inning situations. And Jake Reindl (5 saves, 2.47 ERA) has proven he can throw seven innings if needed, or get a save if that is the case.
Sawyer Bridges (4 saves, 1.20 ERA) is South Carolina’s most dependable arm. Behind him is John Gilreath (22 apps., 4.03 ERA), TJ Shook (3-0, 2.33 ERA), and Graham Lawson (1-1, 4.38 ERA) are all names that Arkansas has seen before this season and will likely see again.
Both teams will want to see more runs scored than in the regular season series. No one got above three runs in a single game, a low amount even for seven inning games. With the conditions to be much warmer, that should be the case. Warmer air should allow for hitters to swing more freely and the ball to travel more. So from the pitching matchups, to the games themselves, don’t expect this weekend to be like the regular season series.