After taking one on the road against Vanderbilt last week, the Diamond Hogs swept Mississippi State this weekend, their second top 5 opponent in two weeks. Coming away from these two series 4-2 is huge and a great momentum builder for the remainder of the season. Two excellent pitching performances by Isaiah Campbell and Connor Noland along with a couple of offensive onslaughts propelled the Razorbacks in an impressive weekend. The Hogs will stay at home this week for two games against Northwestern State before welcoming former assistant coach Tony Vitello and the Tennessee Volunteers to town.
Hitter of the Week
Casey Martin has returned to form after struggling in recent weeks. This week the shortstop went 8 for 17 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs, and 10 RBI in four games. He had two especially big hits in the series with a go ahead two-run double in the 6th inning of game one, and a grand slam to straight away centerfield in the second inning of game two to go ahead 5-0 early and allow for the pitching to relax a little on the way to winning the series. Martin has raised his average to .295 on the season and currently has 8 home runs and 35 RBI, and he has stolen 8 bases in 10 attempts. He seems to be seeing the ball a lot better lately, but being moved to the second spot in the order has also been a good move for him.
Pitcher of the Week
Thursday night I was considering drafting this article with Campbell as the pitcher of the week, because how do you top his 7.2 inning, 10 strikeouts, no walks performance? I am glad I waited because Connor Noland turned in a gem on Saturday in a game that Arkansas needed to win to finish the sweep of Mississippi State. After not recording an out in his start against Vanderbilt last week, there was a lot of concern about Noland’s ability to bounce back. He put that concern to rest by going out and pitching 7.2 shutout innings with 5 strikeouts, no walks, and only 4 hits allowed in the game. It was clear Dave Van Horn was very pleased with his performance as he jogged out to make the pitching change in the 8th, and the standing ovation Noland received should provide him the confidence he needs to carry this outing over into next week.
Most Important Stat
3-0. In the last four seasons Arkansas and Mississippi State have exchanged series sweeps, with the home team being the beneficiary each time. Sweeping State this season is a huge statement as the Bulldogs have been playing at a high level and came into the series with the SEC’s best batting average (.327) and the only team in the conference batting over .300. After facing Arkansas this week their average dropped 11 points, and Arkansas passed them in the SEC west standings to take over the top of the standings at 12-6.
Dominic Fletcher stood out in a game that Arkansas scored 16 runs on 16 hits in just 7 innings against Grambling State. Fletcher finished the game 3 for 3 with a double, home run and 5 RBI. He is batting .325 with 6 home runs and 33 RBI on the season, and is tied with Martin for the team lead in doubles with 17.