For the second year in a row, the Arkansas baseball team are SEC West Co-Champions. This year they split it with the other team from their neighbor state, the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Despite losing the final series of the season on the road at Texas A&M, Arkansas finished with a 40-15 overall record and 20-10 in the SEC, the first 20 conference win season under Dave Van Horn. Game one in College Station saw Arkansas feature the long ball as the Razorbacks launched 5 home runs to win 7-3. The Hogs would not have much offensive success over the next two games, however, and dropped the contests 6-2 and 6-1. Although the Aggies’ pitching staff is the best in the conference and one of the best in the nation, Arkansas struck out a concerning 44 times and played sloppy defense, committing 7 errors in the series. Hopefully they got a lot of that out of their system and can work on getting back on track before regional play.
Hitter of the Week
Casey Martin hit 2 of the 5 home runs hit by Arkansas in game one, and added another long ball in game three to give him a team leading 15 on the season. All were solo shots and Martin finished the series with 4 hits and 3 RBI.
Jack Kenley joined the home run parade, sending the ball over the wall in games one and two to bring his season total to 12. Kenley finished the series with 5 hits including a double and 3 RBI. Arkansas struggled over the final two games to cash in with runners on base as the Aggies’ pitching staff pitched out of trouble multiple times to leave 14 runners on base in the final two games alone. After tearing up the ball the last several weeks, Dominic Fletcher went hitless over the weekend. Van Horn will need Fletcher to get going again to enhance their chances of making it far in the postseason.
Pitcher of the Week
Isaiah Campbell continued his consistent 2019 campaign with another 6 strong innings giving up 1 earned run on 6 hits, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts. Campbell earned the win to move to 10-1 on the season with a 2.50 ERA. He is also one of 25 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes trophy. Finalists will be named May 29. Joining Campbell with a good start of his own was Connor Noland who got back to form pitching 4.1 innings in game three, allowing only 1 earned run, 5 hits, no walks, and struck out 3. Noland was cruising in the fifth inning when he made an incredibly athletic play to dive towards first base to get an out on a sacrifice bunt. However, it seemed like the impact on the dive affected him physically and he gave up back to back singles before coming out of the game with just 45 pitches thrown.
Give it your all, every single time. pic.twitter.com/L7IAqG8MCY— Razorback Baseball (@RazorbackBSB) May 18, 2019
It was also encouraging to see Kole Ramage make a long relief appearance in game two to keep Arkansas in it after Patrick Wicklander lasted only 1.2 innings in his start. Ramage went 4.1 innings and threw 77 pitches, allowing 2 runs on just 3 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 5.
Arkansas tied Mississippi State for the best record in the SEC West and swept the Bulldogs this season, which means Arkansas earned the second seed in the conference tournament this week. The Hogs will play Wednesday against the winner of the Ole Miss and Missouri game. As the number 6 RPI team in the nation and with their record they have a regional host position locked up, and perhaps even a top 8 national seed. The Razorbacks will try to win every game they play in Hoover, but they can also approach the SEC tournament with ease and set up their pitching more for the NCAA tournament if they want to. To make another postseason run, they will need to get their bats going again after running into an Aggie buzzsaw.