FAYETTEVILLE – Coming off a series win in its first road trip of the season, the No. 14 University of Arkansas baseball team returns home for a two-game midweek set against South Dakota State. Both games, to be played Tuesday and Wednesday, are scheduled for a 3:05 p.m. start at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas (8-2) took two of three from California during its weekend stay out West. The Razorbacks came away with wins in games one and two before dropping the series finale. Zack Cox and Tim Carver led the team with a .455 (5-for-11) batting average and four RBI against the Bears. Cox is the only Razorback to hit safely in all 10 games this season. In game two against Cal, Carver hit his first career home run; he finished the game with two.
The Razorbacks have faced South Dakota State two previous times, winning both contests comfortably in Fayetteville during the 2008 season. In that two-game set, Arkansas outscored the Jackrabbits, 33-5. South Dakota State is used to playing the role of road warrior as the team’s first 27 games this season will be played away from its home field.
Through the first 10 games of the season, Carver leads the Hogs with a .394 batting average and, with 10 RBI, has matched his season total from a year ago. Cox and Andy Wilkins follow with batting averages of .385 and .371, respectively. Wilkins broke into the program’s top 10 all-time home runs list over the weekend with a pair of shots against Cal. With 32 career home runs, he is currently tied with Troy Eklund (1986-89) for 10th place on the list. Slotted in as the Razorbacks’ No. 2 hitter in the lineup, Collin Kuhn is hitting at a .364 clip.
On the mound, Arkansas will turn to a pair of new starters for its midweek contest against South Dakota State. Sam Murphy is scheduled to start Tuesday’s game, while newcomer Randall Fant will get the nod Wednesday afternoon. Murphy has appeared in one game this season, logging 2.1 innings of work in the Hogs’ finale against Troy. Fant, a left-handed freshman, will be making his first trip to the mound for the Razorbacks.
Fellow freshman DJ Baxendale continues to be solid out of the bullpen. He recorded his third save of the season, a five-out effort, in the series opener at Cal. Baxendale has retired 13 consecutive hitters in relief duty.
South Dakota State comes to Fayetteville with a 5-2 record after winning three of four at Air Force this past weekend. The Jackrabbits’ offense was strong with 59 runs scored in the four-game series. As a team, South Dakota State carries a .391 batting average but has struggled on the mound and allowed opposing teams to hit .325. Jesse Sawyer-.440 batting average, three home runs, 10 RBI-and Trever Vermeulen-2-0, 1.04 ERA in five appearance-were named the Summit League Players of the Week for their efforts at Air Force.
Fans can listen to midweek action on Razorback Sports Network from ISP with ChuckBarrett in the booth as the network’s play-by-play announcer. There will also be a video and audio stream available at the online home of Razorback athletics, ArkansasRazorbacks.com.