FAYETTEVILLE – Coming off a sweep of Troy this past weekend, the No. 16 University of Arkansas baseball team returns to the field Tuesday for its first midweek game of the season, a meeting with the Kansas Jayhawks. First pitch of the contest is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas (5-1) is the winner of four straight contests and has matched it start from last season through six games. Kansas (4-1) comes into Fayetteville after posting a 3-0 weekend at the Peoria Spring Training Classic in Peoria, Ariz., with two wins over Sacramento State and a victory over Gonzaga.
"(Kansas) is a really solid ball club," head coach Dave Van Horn said. "I know they’ve got really good pitching with their team ERA right at 3.00. I think they were projected to finish middle of the pack in the Big 12 but they’re playing better than that right now."
The Razorbacks hold a 33-13 advantage over KU in the all-time series between the two programs. The teams played in a two-game midweek series last season with each club coming away with a win. Arkansas is 6-1 against the Jayhawks under Van Horn.
Through six games, the Hogs are hitting .306 as a team with six players-Zack Cox, Andy Wilkins, Tim Carver, Collin Kuhn, Monk Kreder and James McCann-hitting above the .300 mark. Cox heads up the group with a .409 batting average. He is followed by Wilkins and Carver who are both hitting .400 through the first two weekends of play. Wilkins leads the Razorbacks with three home runs, while he and Cox are tied for the team lead with nine RBI each.
Wilkins hit his 30th home run as a Razorback in the team’s 10-8 victory Saturday over Troy. The Broken Arrow, Okla., native is two blasts away from cracking the program’s top-10 list. McCann and Brett Eibner each have two home runs and Cox rounds out the group with one.
On the mound, Arkansas has posted a 3.33 ERA through two weeks of the young 2010 season. TJ Forrest, Tuesday’s probable starter, leads the staff with his 1.12 ERA. DJ Baxendale earned two saves during the Troy series, the first of his career. Opposing hitters have a .246 batting average against the Razorback arms.
Kansas’ lineup took a hit with the loss of All-American Tony Thompson who suffered a knee injury during preseason practice that will sideline the junior infielder for the first four weeks of the season.
"That takes away a lot of their power," Van Horn said. "He’s their preseason All-American. It would be like us losing Andy, but we’ve lost Bo, instead. That’s just the way it works sometimes, but every time we’ve played them the last few years, it’s been a really good game."
In last season’s two-game series, Arkansas dropped a 9-3 decision to the visiting Jayhawks in the opener, but the Hogs rebounded to win the next game, 9-8, in a back-and-forth, 10-inning contest. This year’s game will mark the fourth consecutive season Kansas will pay a visit to Baum Stadium.
Kansas is expected to start Thomas Taylor to oppose Forrest.
Fans can listen to Tuesday’s action on the Razorback Sports Network from ISP. State-wide affiliate stations can be found here. Chuck Barrett will be in the booth as the network’s play-by-play announcer. There will also be an audio and video stream available at the online home of Razorback athletics, ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: Weekly Notebook, March 1.pdf