FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas opens the Southeastern Conference portion of its schedule this weekend as it travels to face the Auburn Tigers. First pitch at Plainsman Park is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.This weekend’s games will be available on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network from IMG College. Three-time Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year Chuck Barrett (play-by-play) will call the game. Auburn will offer a free live video stream through its website, AuburnTigers.com. Live stats and a live blog of all three games will also be available on ArkansasRazorbacks.com.The Razorbacks, 14-2 on the season and ranked as high as No. 9 in the country, are coming off a 4-2 win over Kansas on Tuesday afternoon at Baum Stadium. The game was the quickest of the season for Arkansas as it was finished in a tidy two hours and 10 minutes.Kyle Robinson hit his fourth home run in the victory and added a pair of hits, while James McCann also had two hits. Collin Kuhn drove in a team-high two RBI in the win. Five Arkansas relievers combined to allow just two runs on four hits, including Ryne Stanek, who earned his first collegiate win, throwing four innings and allowing just one unearned run.Dominic Ficociello leads the Razorbacks with a .426 batting average and is second on the team with 20 RBI. Robinson is hitting .409 on the year with a team-high four homers and 22 RBI. McCann (.377, 1 HR, 10 RBI) and Matt Reynolds (.346, 2 HR, 10 RBI) are both hitting better than .300.Sophomore right-handed pitcher DJ Baxendale will get the call in the series opener for the Razorbacks. Baxendale is 4-0 on the season and has not allowed a run in 19.1 innings so far this season. Freshman righty Brandon Moore (2-0, 3.27) will start the middle game of the series on Saturday. Moore is 2-0 in his rookie year with a 3.27 ERA. Sophomore southpaw Cade Lynch will start the finale of the three-game set on Sunday. Lynch is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA this season.Out of the bullpen, freshman righty Barrett Astin has been Arkansas’ most called upon reliever. Astin has appeared in seven games in relief and is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA. Nolan Sanburn has not allowed a run in six relief outings this season. Sanburn, who earned his second save of the season Tuesday vs. Kansas, has struck out 13 batters in 7.1 shutout innings. Randall Fant has also appeared in six games and is 0-1 with a 3.12 ERA.
Auburn enters Southeastern Conference play with a 12-5 record, including an 8-5 home record. The Tigers, picked to finish third in the SEC Western Division by the league’s coaches, have won two straight, including a 2-1 win over in-state rival Alabama in a non-conference game on Tuesday night. Auburn is hitting .314 as a team, while the Tiger pitching staff has compiled a 4.07 ERA.
Offensively, Wes Gilmer leads the Tigers with a .407 batting average. Gilmer has also driven in 11 runs on the season. Case McElroy is hitting .386 with a pair of homers and 14 RBI, while Dan Gamache is batting .349 with two homers and a team-high 18 RBI.
Junior left-handed pitcher Cory Luckie will start Friday’s series oepner. Luckie is 1-1 on the seasno with a 3.63 ERA in four starts. The Tigers have not announced a starter for Saturday’s contest. Junior righty Derek Varnadore will start Sunday’s game. Varnadore is a perfect 3-0 on the year with a 2.79 ERA in four starts. Varnadore leads the Tigers with 26 strikeouts in 29 innings of work.
Ethan Wallen leads Auburn with seven appearances out of the bullpen and has four saves on the year with a 0-1 record and a 1.84 ERA. Sean Ray has pitched in six games and has a 1-0 record with a 2.79 ERA.
Arkansas and Auburn have met 65 times previously with the Tigers holding a 35-30 advantage. Auburn leads the series 16-11 in games played at Auburn. The two teams have split the previous four series and the home team hasn’t won a regular season series since 2006.