FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – With its first three-game sweep to open the Southeastern Conference season since 2012, the Razorbacks have returned to the national polls after a week hiatus, checking in at No. 24 in this week’s Perfect Game national rankings.
Arkansas just missed out on the rankings for D1Baseball.com and Baseball America this week, but did receive the second-highest number of votes of teams not ranked in the USA Today/Coaches Poll going into the second week of SEC play.
This is the second week this year that Arkansas has been in the top-25 of the national rankings. The Hogs were No. 20 by the National College Baseball Writers’ Association and No. 24 by D1Baseball.com prior to its first road trip to Louisiana Tech and the Frisco Classic.
The Hogs are winners of five straight after sweeping Mississippi State and Alcorn State last week. The sweep of the Bulldogs is the first for Arkansas since 2010 and ups its overall record to 17-4 for the year, the second-best record in the conference.
A lot of what Arkansas can attribute to its recent surge is the performance of its starting pitching. Sophomore Blaine Knight and junior Trevor Stephan have provided a perfect 1-2 punch combining for a 1.76 ERA with 74 strikeouts and only seven walks. Knight has totaled 34 of those strikeouts, but has walked just one batter in five appearances, giving him the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the nation.
As for Stephan, the right-hander has put up eye-popping numbers as he’s undefeated at 4-0 with a 1.19 ERA and a team-leading 40 strikeouts. It’s the best start to a season for a Razorback starting pitcher since 2012 when former All-American Ryne Stanek began his sophomore season with five straight wins, 25 strikeouts, and a 1.52 ERA over 29.2 innings. The 40 strikeouts is also the most by a Razorback through the first 21 games of a season since Nick Schmidt, another All-American, totaled 40 through seven starts in the 2007 season.
Arkansas will have a chance to extend its five-game win streak when it plays a single game on Wednesday at Baum Stadium against New Orleans, closing out its 11-game homestand. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on SEC Network+. The game can also be heard on the radio on the Razorback Sports Network.
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