Baseball Travels to Alabama for Marquee Series

BY David Beall

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The 23rd-ranked University of Arkansas baseball team (26-18, 11-10) will go for its sixth consecutive SEC series win this weekend, traveling to Hoover, Alabama for a nationally televised series with the Crimson Tide (23-21, 8-13) at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

Follow Live
All three games will be shown on national television. Thursday and Friday’s games will be on SEC Network and Saturday’s game on ESPN2 with Tom Hart and Chris Burke on the call. Phil Elson will have the call of all three games on the IMG Razorback Sports Network.

Probable Starters
Thu. | 6:00p | SECN | (ARK) RHP Trey Killian vs. (UA) LHP Taylor Giulbeau
Fri. | 6:00p | SECN | (ARK) RHP Dominic Taccolini vs. (UA) RHP Jake Walters
Sat. | Noon | ESPN2 | (ARK) RHP Keaton McKinney vs (UA) RHP Geoffrey Bramblett

Thursday Probable Starter – RHP Trey Killian
Trey Killian worked 5.1 innings last week against Mississippi State and left the game with a 5-4 lead before receiving his fourth no-decision in eight starts this season. He threw over 100 pitches for the fourth time in five games and worked into the sixth inning for the fifth time on the year. Killian has made 18 career starts in SEC play and allowed two earned runs or less in 10 of those 18 starts, including twice this season against No. 5 Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

Friday Probable Starter – RHP Dominic Taccolini
Dominic Taccolini got back on track last week against Mississippi State, picking up his first victory in four starts and recording his sixth quality start of the year in 11 appearances. He has thrown a season-high 108 pitches in three of his last four outings and is tied for sixth in the SEC with six victories on the season. Taccolini has allowed three earned runs or less in nine of his 11 starts this year and recorded 55 strikeouts in 61.0 innings.

Saturday Probable Starter – RHP Keaton McKinney
Keaton McKinney posted another strong outing last weekend against Mississippi State, working 5.1 innings and giving up one unearned run on six hits. He is the only freshman in the SEC to throw a complete game this season and has allowed three earned runs or less in 10 of his 11 starts this year. Over his last six appearances, McKinney has a 2-0 record and 2.25 ERA with opponents hitting .233 against him.

Leading Off
• The Razorbacks appeared in four national polls this week, checking in at No. 23 in Baseball America, No. 24 in D1Baseball, No. 30 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 30 in NCBWA.

• The Razorbacks are coming off a series victory over Mississippi State to run their record in the month of April to 12-4.

• The Razorbacks are currently in third place in the SEC West standings, sitting behind top-ranked LSU and No. 2 Texas A&M.

• Arkansas has four wins in SEC play when trailing after seven innings, picking two comeback victories at Auburn, one at Texas A&M and one against Mississippi State.

• The Razorback pitching staff has allowed two runs or less in three of the last four games and has posted an ERA of 2.80 over the last five games.

• The Arkansas defense has a .979 fielding percentage to rank No. 2 in the SEC and 12th in the country.

• Tyler Spoon hit .400 last week with a pair of multi-hit games and has his batting average up to .356 on the season. He is tied for second in the SEC with 15 doubles and is No. 2 on the team with 37 runs batted in.

• Arkansas 3-3 this season against the No. 1 team in the country and 5-4 against the nation’s top team over the last two years.

#BennyBaseball
• Is the only player in the country with 10+ home runs and 20 or more stolen bases.
• Is one home run away from becoming the first player in school history with 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases.

Power
• Tied for the national lead with 14 home runs.
• Leads the SEC and ranks seventh nationally with a .723 slugging percentage.
• Ranks fifth in the SEC with 42 RBI on the year.
• Had a span of four home runs in six plate appearances against Mississippi Valley State and Kentucky.

Consistency
• Has reached base safely in 17 consecutive games.
• Has reached base in 17 of his last 21 plate appearances.
• Ranks second in the SEC with a .381 batting average.
• His .381 batting average would be the highest since 2011 when Zack Cox set the school record at .429.
• Ranks second in the SEC with 33 walks on the year and a .490 on base percentage.
• Has 20 multi-hit games and 15 multi-RBI games this season.

Speed
• Ranks third in the SEC and 34th nationally with 20 stolen bases on the year.
• Has eight stolen bases over the last seven games.
• Leads the SEC and ranks 11th nationally with 112 total bases.
• Ranks second in the SEC with 46 runs scored. (Led team with 45 runs scored all of last year)

Series History
Arkansas trails the all-time series with Alabama 43-33, but have won eight of the last 10 games. The Razorbacks dropped the series opener last year in Fayetteville, but bounced back with consecutive one-run victories to capture the series. Since 2004, Arkansas is 22-16 against the Crimson Tide, winning seven of the 11 series between the two clubs.

Series Wins Piling Up
Arkansas is the only team in the SEC to win each of its last five SEC series and it looks to become the only team in the league this season to win six consecutive SEC series. The last time the Razorbacks won six straight conference series came in 2004 when Arkansas went to the College World Series.

#BennyBaseball for #SECPOY
Andrew Benintendi was picked by SEC Network Tuesday morning as the predicted SEC Player of the Year. According to the Network’s Dave Perno, “It’s not even close” when you look at the numbers.

Teague’s Emergence
James Teague has emerged as one of the top pitchers on the staff over the last month, tossing 19.2 innings and giving up just two earned runs for a 0.92 earned run average. He has allowed just two extra base hits, recorded 18 strikeouts and opponents are hitting .185 against him. Over his last seven appearances, Teague has two wins and one save.

RPI Watch
Arkansas continues to move up the RPI ranks, jumping four more spots this week to No. 48 in the country according to D1Baseball.com. The Razorbacks have improved 36 spots over the last two weeks and played the ninth toughest schedule in the country to date.

DVH Hits Milestone Win
Head coach Dave Van Horn picked up his 500th victory at Arkansas in the series finale at Auburn and currently has 1,093 career wins in his 27-year career as a head coach. Van Horn joins Razorback legend Norm DeBriyn as the only two coaches in program history to record 500 wins during their tenure at Arkansas. Debriyn and Van Horn have combined for 81-percent of the wins in Arkansas’ history. He is also one of only three active coaches in the SEC with 500 wins at his current institution.

Coming Up
Arkansas returns home next weekend to host Tennessee in the final homestand of the year. The two teams will play Friday at 6:35 p.m., Saturday at 6:05 p.m. and Sunday at 1:05 p.m. at Baum Stadium.

For more information on Arkansas baseball, follow @RazorbackBSB on Twitter.