#8 Arkansas (25-8; 8-4 SEC) vs. #6 Vanderbilt (25-8; 7-5 SEC)
One week after losing a top 5 battle to UGA, Vanderbilt returns home... to face yet another top 10 opponent. This is what we signed up for, though: a medieval trial by ordeal through the baseball diamonds of the American South until the end of May/early June, when we finally get to take a breather and play the rest of the country in the NCAA Tournament. SEC baseball makes SEC football look like SEC basketball some times.
Of course, of our remaining SEC opponents (Alabama, Auburn, The South Cackalacky Game Penises, Missourah, and the state where Jamal Mashburn jerseys are acceptable wedding attire) only #22 Auburn is currently a top 25 team. We’ll cross those bridges when we get there, though. For tonight, we dine on pork.
Arkansas is no joke on the diamond. At 8-4, they sit atop a three way tie with LSU and Ole Miss in the rugged landscape of the SEC West. Vanderbilt, due to Sunday’s loss to Ugga, are 2nd in the East, which is significantly less rigorous than the West this year.
In conference play, the Hogs and Dores have performed about the same. On the mound, Vanderbilt has a 3.63 team ERA to Arkansas’ 3.70 ERA. At the plate, we see more striking similarities, as our SEC team triple slash line of .269/.355/.432 barely edges out their .256/.342/.415.
Though their 3 hole hitter, SS Casey Martin, has been slumping during SEC play (batting .226/.293/.453 with 2 2B, 2 3B, and 2 HR), Arkansas is strong around him, with So. JuCo transfer IF/OF/DH Matt Goodheart (.372 BA; .462 in SEC play), So. OF Heston Kjerstad (9 HR), and Jr. OF Dominic Fletcher (17 2B).
Friday looks to be a true battle of the Aces, as big righties Drake “Safari Planet” Fellows and Isaiah “Soup” Campbell face off, Highlander-style, with identical 6-0 records. Campbell, the redshirt junior from Olathe, KS, is the workhorse of the bunch. He has a sparkling 2.29 ERA, averages 6.38 IP per game, and has a nearly 6:1 K:BB ratio.
Though UGA largely managed to keep our lineup in check, Corbs shook things up a bit in the midweek game, and gave Fr. CF Isaiah Thomas his first career start. Thomas looked like a future star, with a HR and a 2B, and the rest of the lineup followed suit in a 15-3 bludgeoning of Empty S-U.
Will Corbs reward the young man with a second start this weekend? Will DMC return from injury? Will JJ Bleday (and his SEC leading 14 HRs) stay hot at the plate and continue his Golden Spikes campaign?
On the Mound
FRIDAY 7pm CT SECN : Jr. RHP Drake “Safari Planet” Fellows (6-0, 3.44 ERA) vs. RHP Isaiah “Soup” Campbell (6-0, 2.29 ERA)
SATURDAY 8pm CT ESPNU: Fr. RHP Kumar “Harold” Rocker (2-4, 5.90 ERA) vs. RHP Connor “Noland Springs” Noland (0-1, 4.59 ERA)
SUNDAY 1pm CT SECN+: Sr. RHP Patrick “Mad Dog” Raby (5-1, 2.47 ERA) vs. TBA
Will update when the lineup is posted.
See you in the comments.