FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 7 University of Arkansas baseball team will take its eight-game winning streak into the fifth weekend of Southeastern Conference play and its three-game series against Georgia at Baum Stadium. Game one of series is set for Friday at 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2. The series opener will also be available live on ESPN3.com (formerly ESPN360.com). The Razorbacks are 28-6 overall with a 9-3 mark in conference play.
Games two and three will follow the familiar pattern of weekend series in Fayetteville with Saturday’s contest scheduled for a 2:05 p.m. start and Sunday’s finale going off at 1:05 p.m. Friday’s matchup will the Arkansas’ sixth television appearance this season and first on the ESPN family of networks.
In the all-time series between the two programs, Arkansas holds a 20-17 advantage with all but one of the games coming since the Hogs joined the SEC in 1992. Last season, Georgia took two of three in Athens, but the Razorbacks came away with a 2-0 win in the finale behind a complete-game shutout performance by Brett Eibner. Arkansas is 12-6 against the Bulldogs in games played in Fayetteville. Arkansas and Georgia first met during the 1987 College World Series, a 5-4 win by the Razorbacks.
Zack Cox paces the Arkansas offense with an SEC-best .442 batting average. He has hit safely in 33 of the club’s 34 games this season, including nine straight, and has at least two hits in Arkansas’ last six contests. Monk Kreder has pushed his batting average to .325 during his 16-game hitting streak and Travis Sample is hitting .690 (20-for-29) during his 10-game hitting streak.
As a team, the Razorbacks carry a .327 team batting average, the third-highest figure in the SEC. The Arkansas offense has double-digit hits in 13 consecutive ballgames, the longest such streak since the 2003 club has 12 straight games with at least 10 hits. The Hogs are second in the conference in hits, home runs, runs scored and total bases.
On the mound, Drew Smyly (4-0) heads up the Arkansas staff with a 1.99 ERA, tied for the fourth-best mark in the league. In eight appearances this season, he is holding opponents to a .199 batting average and has 45 strikeouts. Eibner, Saturday’s probable starter for the Hogs, enters the weekend with a 2-2 record and 3.76 ERA. In 38.1 innings, he has walked just nine hitters, the second-lowest total in the SEC, with 39 strikeouts. Sunday’s starter is still to be determined.
Arkansas is third in the SEC with a 3.70 team ERA and holds opposing hitters to a .251 batting average. The Razorbacks’ 28 wins are the most in the conference heading into the weekend.
Georgia (11-22, 3-9 SEC) has dropped eight of its last 10 contests, including a 26-5 loss to fifth-ranked Georgia Tech in its last outing. In their last SEC series, the Bulldogs lost two of three to No. 15 Ole Miss. Zach Cone leads the UGA offensive charge with a .376 batting average, eight home runs and 34 RBI. He also leads the SEC with six triples. The Bulldogs are scheduled to start RHP Justin Grimm (2-4, 4.04 ERA), RHP Jeff Walters (1-2, 7.34) and RHP Michael Palazzone (4-3, 7.34) this weekend.
Fans can tune in to this weekend’s action on the Razorback Sports Network from ISP. Chuck Barrett will be in the booth as the network’s play-by-play announcer. Live stats for the Arkansas-Georgia series will also be available at the online home of Razorback athletics, ArkansasRazorbacks.com.