FAYETTEVILLE — No. 2 Arkansas is in Gainesville set for another SEC series this one against Florida.
The Hogs are coming off a 21-9 win over UCA on Tuesday night when the Hogs showed power and an offensive attack that was aggressive. Considering they lost a tough 5-3 extra innings game on Sunday to Mississippi State does Dave Van Horn feel the explosion past UCA will help give them momentum in Gainesville?
“I mean, we’ll see how it goes,” Van Horn said. “We’ve got the same rotation going. They’re throwing a really good lefty at us. Them throwing a lefty, does it make a difference who we’re going to start? It could at one position maybe, but I don’t know. You just kind of keep it and go with what’s working. But then you feel good about if you need to bring somebody in to pinch hit, whatever the case may be.”
Arkansas (22-5, 7-2) has won SEC series against Kentucky (sweep), Missouri and Mississippi State (both 2-1), but Florida (19-10, 3-6) is considered the most dangerous SEC opponent for the Hogs to this point of the schedule.
“Well, first off, they’re really talented,” Van Horn said. “They’ve got the No. 1 left-handed starter in the league and the highest potential draft choice in the league. They’re coming off of being swept at Georgia, probably their rival – at least one of them – and they got walked off the field. I think they took a one- or two-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth and with two outs, they gave up three hits in a row and got walked off with a double. Then they didn’t recover and lost Friday, Saturday. You just know. You just know as a coach. I know Coach (Kevin) O’Sullivan real well. They’ve got a great staff. They have a lot of talent. They hit a lot of home runs. Their park’s pretty jumpy this year and they’re scoring runs. So it’s going to be… I know what he’s going to tell them. ‘This is the time. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.’ We’re going to have to play really well.”
Florida won a series over Alabama 2-1, dropped the LSU series 1-2 and then was swept by Georgia this past weekend. The Florida Ballpark is new and Van Horn is looking forward to seeing it and his team playing the Gators there.
“It looks good on TV,” Van Horn said. “The surface I’m sure will be incredible. That’s what I’ve heard. They’ve got it fan friendly where they have some chain link fence where the fans can sit behind the stands in the outfield. Then they have berms that seem to be pretty well packed most of the time when the weather’s good from what I’ve seen. It looks like a nice facility and talking to Kevin O’Sullivan about it, that’s what he tells me, it’s really nice.”
The Gators wrapped up their series against Georgia on Saturday while the Hogs played on Sunday. Thus the Florida pitchers will each had one more day rest than those of Arkansas. Van Horn talked about the adjustment the Hogs made for Connor Noland, Hagen Smith and Jaxon Wiggins.
“Well, you just have to change their routine and speed it up and get them to their day before the first game where they would’ve been in six days, now you’ve got to get them there in five,” Van Horn said. “Our Saturday and Sunday starters, we held those guys to about 80 pitches each. Connor went right at 100, 102, 105. He’s strong, he’s older. We would’ve liked to maybe, when you look back, maybe got him out a little bit earlier, but it’s the Friday game. You’re trying to save your bullpen, and you look over at the other dugout, and you know they can score four runs real quick on you, and you’re just kind of like ‘well, we’ve got to just go with him another inning.’ If he pitches good, that’s great. If he doesn’t, Connor’s not going to make any excuses. We’re just going to go down there and play and beat Barco. He’s really good, and we’ll see what we can do.”
Click here for Florida’s schedule and results. Remainder of this story is from Arkansas Communication’s Office release.
Thursday night’s game will broadcast on SEC Network with Mike Morgan (play-by-play) and Todd Walker (analyst) on the call. Friday and Saturday’s contests, meanwhile, will stream on SEC Network+ with Jeff Cardozo and Nick Belmonte handling play-by-play and analyst duties, respectively.
Fans can 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.
All three games of the series can also be heard on the Razorback Sports Network from Learfield/IMG, including locally in Fayetteville on 92.1 FM, with Phil Elson on the call. A full list of radio affiliates is available here.
Arkansas RHP Connor Noland (4-1, 3.05 ERA) vs. Florida LHP Hunter Barco (5-1, 1.87 ERA)
Arkansas LHP Hagen Smith (5-1, 3.62 ERA) vs. Florida RHP Brandon Sproat (3-3, 4.68 ERA)
Arkansas RHP Jaxon Wiggins (4-0, 3.69 ERA) vs. Florida TBA
This weekend, Arkansas and Florida will meet for the fifth time in the last nine seasons. The Razorbacks own a 35-32 all-time series lead, most recently sweeping the Gators in a three-game set at Baum-Walker Stadium last year to close out the regular season and clinch an overall SEC title.
Florida has had more success against Arkansas at home, however, winning seven of the 10 series played in Gainesville. The Hogs enter this weekend looking for their first series win in Gainesville since 2012.
- Arkansas is 7-2 in SEC play for the second straight season and the third time in the last five seasons.
- The Hogs have won six consecutive SEC road series and are 9-2 in their last 11 SEC road series.
- Arkansas has won the opening game of its last eight SEC road series.
- The Razorbacks enter this weekend’s action ranked 14th nationally in hits allowed per nine innings (7.3), 14th in strikeouts per nine innings (11.0), 15th in WHIP (1.21) and 20th in earned run average (3.57).
- Defensively, Arkansas has been superb with a .985 fielding percentage, which tops the SEC and ranks fourth nationally.
- C Dylan Leach became only the second Razorback batter since 1994 to hit for the cycle, going 5-for-5 with two home runs (one from each side of the batter’s box) and five RBI in Arkansas’ wild 21-9 win over UCA on Tuesday night.