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Weekend Recap: Arkansas Wins First LSU Series in 8 Years.

Hogs stay atop SEC West Standings

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Arkansas vs Florida Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Doesn’t it just feel great to beat LSU? Since James McCann’s walk-off 3-run home run to clinch the LSU series in 2011, Arkansas has not been able to tame the Tigers on the diamond. That streak came to an end this weekend when the Hogs took the first two games of the series in dramatic fashion, winning by a combined 15 runs, before dropping the final game 3-2. Isaiah Campbell turned in another quality start for the win to move to 9-1 on the season, and the offense put up a 6-run inning in each of the first two games. The Razorbacks (39-13, 19-8) have now won 19 conference games for the first time since 2004, and sit 1.5 games ahead of Mississippi State in the SEC West and 0.5 game behind Vanderbilt overall coming into Sunday’s action.

Hitter of the Week

Arkansas pounded out 5 home runs on Thursday, including a 2-run shot by Casey Opitz and a grand slam from the bat of Jack Kenley who, after not hitting a home run in his first two seasons, now has 10 as a Junior. This week’s tip of the cap goes to Dominic Fletcher, however, who finished the series with three multi-hit games and 7 RBI. In game one Fletcher got in on the home run action and finished 3 for 4 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. Then in game two he went 2 for 4 with a double, 3 more RBI and a run scored, and finished game three 2 for 4 with his 21st double of the season and drove in one of Arkansas’ two runs. Fletcher is now up to .332 on the season, which is good for third on the team, and leads the team in doubles and RBI (52). He has 10 home runs on the season and has now hit double-digit home runs in each of his three seasons at Arkansas.

Pitcher of the Week

Campbell and Connor Noland both turned in impressive starts, giving up 2 and 0 runs over 6 and 5.1 innings, respectively, but Kevin Kopps’ performance out of the bullpen on Friday night kept the Razorbacks in the game so they could mount a late inning come back. Down 3-1 in the top of the 4th, Kopps inherited a bases loaded, one out situation and got out of it with an inning ending 6-4-3 double play. Instead allowing LSU to break the game open, Kopps shut the Tigers down over 4 innings giving up no runs on 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 4. The offense went on to score 10 runs with Kopps pitching to earn him his 5th win of the season. He is now 5-3 with a 3.19 ERA and has 38 strikeouts to just 9 walks in 31 innings.

Looking Ahead

Arkansas has never won more than 19 games in the SEC, and will take that challenge on the road to No. 17 Texas A&M who are trying to avoid losing their third series in a row on Sunday at Alabama. Having won 11 of their last 13 conference games, the Diamond Hogs are playing at a very high caliber right now and will try to keep the momentum rolling through the end of the season and into the SEC tournament and regional play. It is bitter sweet realizing the season is coming to an end but also looking forward to seeing how this team will perform in the post-season. I, for one, am feeling very similarly to last season when it seemed that no matter who they played, you knew Arkansas had a great chance to find a way to win. I could also get used to knowing that the last home series will not be the last games played in Baum-Walker that season.