For the second consecutive week, and the third time this season, Arkansas swept their conference opponent at home. The Hogs hit very well against a Tennessee pitching staff that came into the weekend leading the SEC in ERA. On Friday night Arkansas put up 16 hits to beat the Volunteers 11-9. Saturday was another great display of hitting with 18 hits and 15 runs, and the pitching held Tennessee to just 2 runs on 7 hits. The final game of the series played more like a Friday night matchup, with the Razorbacks needing single runs in the 9th and 10th to tie it and walk off the game for a final of 4-3.
Seeing Arkansas put it to a very good pitching staff as well as winning a tight game late is very encouraging going into the final stretch of SEC play. Now 34-11 and 15-6 in league play, Arkansas sits two games atop the SEC West standings and is tied with Vanderbilt for the league’s best record. They will play Grambling in Little Rock before traveling to Lexington to take on 22-22 (5-16) Kentucky.
Hitter of the Week
There are plenty to choose from this week, but I feel that no one had a bigger game when it was needed more than Jacob Nesbit in game one. Though he did not record a hit in the next two games, Nesbit’s 3 for 3, 6 RBI Friday night game was what Arkansas needed to overcome a rough night defensively. He had a sacrifice fly early in the game that drove in a run, and added a 3-run home run and 2-run double later in the game to tie the game and then build a lead that would not be relinquished. Nesbit has been a consistent presence at the bottom of the order this season, and now sports a .280 average with 7 doubles, 3 home runs, and is tied for third on the team with 39 RBI. He has also provided a reliable glove at the hot corner.
Pitcher of the Week
For the second consecutive week, Connor Noland turned in an impressive start. In a pitchers duel for the sweep, Noland went 7 innings giving up only 1 unearned run on 2 hits, 1 walk, and doubled his season high with 10 strikeouts. In his last two starts, Noland has thrown 14.2 innings without giving up an earned run and struck out 15 while allowing just 6 hits and 1 walk. He is now 2-2 on the season with a 3.96 ERA and 39 strikeouts to 11 walks in 50 innings.
Most Important Stat
Tennessee came into the weekend with a league best 2.68 ERA. Arkansas averaged 10.38 earned runs per nine innings over three games against the Vols, increasing their team ERA to 3.16. Arkansas has been able to hit with some of the best hitting teams and against the best pitching teams lately, which has been a great recipe for success as they have won their last 7 conference games in a row. Hopefully they can keep the momentum going into the last three weeks of the season.