If the Arkansas baseball series against LSU 2 weeks ago was big, the Diamond Hogs series this weekend against Auburn is massive.
The Razorbacks are down in the state of Alabama on Friday to open a 3-game set with the Tigers. Normally not a big deal. Or no larger than a standard SEC series. But this season it’s different.
This season, Auburn is good. Not just good. Excellent. The Tigers are just a game behind Arkansas for the SEC lead. Not the lead in the SEC West alone. They’re a game back for the league title and No. 1 overall seed in the conference tournament.
Remember where these 2 teams were a year ago? Neither one of them made the SEC Tournament. In a 14-team league that brings 12 to Hoover, Ala., for the conference tournament, Auburn and Arkansas were the 2 that didn’t make it. Now, the Diamond Hogs are first in the SEC halfway through conference play and Auburn is only a game back in third.
Auburn has made it back there on pitching. Casey Mize and Keegan Thompson are first and second among starting pitchers in the SEC in earned-run average. The rest of the Tigers roster — both the lineup and bullpen — is just sort of OK. Auburn is ninth in the SEC in batting average and ninth in ERA. And that’s with Mize’s 1.23 and Thompson’s 1.29 leading the way.
Arkansas gets a bout of good news, however, regarding Auburn’s starting pitching. Mize isn’t likely to pitch. The Tigers’ right-hander not only leads the league in ERA, but strikeouts (82), too.
.@MGMAdvertiser BLOG (w/VIDEO): Auburn RHP Casey Mize (@caseymize04) likely inactive this weekend w/ arm fatigue – https://t.co/ZUboBwv0An pic.twitter.com/D18WzEIfBz
— Matthew Stevens (@matthewcstevens) April 20, 2017
The Razorbacks will counter with their second-best-hitting lineup in the SEC and an opportunity to create some breathing room from one team behind them, anyway.
Game 1: Friday at 6 p.m. (CT)
Game 2: Saturday at 1 p.m. (CT)
Game 3: Sunday at 3 p.m. (CT)
Games on Friday and Saturday are available on SEC Network+. The game on Sunday is on SEC Network. Fans can watch via WatchESPN or the WatchESPN app.
Andy Burcham handles the play-by-play duties and Mark Fuller will serve as the analyst during the first two games of the series. Taylor Zarzour has the play-by-play and Gabe Gross provides the color for the series finale on Sunday.
Check back here when the games begin for a live blog, updates and analysis.
April 21-23: @ Auburn
April 25: vs. Kansas State (Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City)
April 27-29: vs. Ole Miss
May 4-6: @ Tennessee
May 12-14: vs. Vanderbilt
May 18-20: @ Texas A&M
May 23-28: SEC tournament
June 2-5: NCAA regionals
June 9-12: NCAA super regionals
June 17-29: College World Series
The post Arkansas baseball vs Auburn: This one is for the SEC lead appeared first on SEC Country.