FAYETTEVILLE — A lot of college baseball fans will be watching what happens in Starkville this weekend when No. 1 Arkansas faces No. 2 Mississippi State.
The first game of the series is tonight at 6:30 p.m. Mississippi State (17-4, 2-1) faced LSU last weekend while Arkansas (16-3, 2-1) took on Alabama. This will be the first SEC road series for Dave Van Horn’s Razorbacks. Arkansas enters having won four games in a row while the Bulldogs have won 10 of its past 11.
“They’re one of the best teams in the country,” Van Horn said. “Statistically, their pitching staff is as good as anybody in the country. Maybe the deepest in the country. Offensively, they’ve got a really good lineup. A lot of left-handed hitters. They just keep coming at you. They get ahead of you they’ve got a couple of guys in the bullpen that usually come in and get it done. We know what we’re headed into. We’re headed into a place that has a great baseball team, and not only that, I think they get to have full capacity. I think that’s around 12-14,000 maybe more. It will definitely be a challenge. We’ll see how we handle it.”
This weekend’s matchup between the Hogs and Bulldogs marks the 14th time in the history of Baseball America’s Top 25 that the top two teams in the poll have met during the regular season. Three of the last four occurrences have happened in an SEC series.
“We’re looking forward to going to Starkville,” Van Horn said. “We know how good they are. We saw them play three games in Arlington. They’re really good.”
The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 56-49 between the two teams. The Hogs haven’t had much success in Starkville. The last time they won there was March 29, 2014. Arkansas is 16-29 in Starkville.
“The rotation will be (Patrick) Wicklander, (Zebulon) Vermillion and (Lael) Lockhart,” Van Horn said.
That means the previous Friday night starter, Peyton Pallette, will now pitch in relief.
“He will be out of the pen,” Van Horn said. “I wanted to get him on the mound last night just to kind of get the Alabama game out of his system. We have confidence in him obviously.”
Wicklander started in previous years for the Hogs, but has pitched out of the bullpen in four of his five appearances this season. His one start was against Oklahoma and didn’t go as well as the Hogs had hoped.
“He has experience,” Van Horn said. “It’s not like he hasn’t pitched in regionals, super regionals and conference games on the road and home. If he can give us four quality innings that would be great. Anything over that is even better. We’re facing a tough left-hander and a really good right-hander on Saturday. The more innings he gives us obviously the better. Just go out and compete hard and do what he did against Alabama. Good things will happen, if they don’t then go to the next guy.”
The matchups, schedule and how to watch and listen is from the University of Arkansas press release.
Matchup & History
Arkansas LHP Patrick Wicklander (0-0, 2.51 ERA) vs. Mississippi State LHP Christian MacLeod (2-1, 1.74 ERA)
Arkansas RHP Zebulon Vermillion (2-0, 2.13 ERA) vs. Mississippi State RHP Will Bednar (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Arkansas LHP Lael Lockhart (1-1, 2.38 ERA) vs. Mississippi State RHP Jackson Fristoe (2-1, 1.71 ERA)
Friday and Saturday’s games will stream live on SEC Network+. Catch all the action through the ESPN app on smartphones, computers and tablets or via Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Sunday’s ballgame will broadcast nationally on the SEC Network with Tom Hart (play-by-play) and Kyle Peterson (analyst) on the call.
All three games can also be heard on the Razorback Sports Network from Learfield/IMG, including locally in Fayetteville on 92.1 FM. Phil Elson will have the call all weekend long.
Conway – KASR-FM 92.7
El Dorado – KELD-AM 107.1 (FM Translator)
Fayetteville – KQSM-FM 92.1
Forrest City – KXJK-AM 950
Forrest City – KXJK-FM 106.5
Fort Smith – KERX-FM 95.3
Little Rock – KABZ-FM 103.7
Marshall – KBCN-FM 104.3
Mena – KTTG-FM 96.3
Rogers – KURM-AM 790
Rogers – KURM-FM 100.3
Stuttgart – KWAK-FM 105.5
Texarkana, TX – KKTK-AM 1400