NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 14 University of Arkansas baseball team will close out the 2010 regular season with a Southeastern Conference series at Vanderbilt. The three-game series will begin Thursday with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. at Hawkins Field. Game two will also start at 6 p.m. while the finale with the 15th-ranked Commodores will get underway at 2 p.m.
Game three of the series will be televised by SportSouth, and the broadcast will also be carried by Fox Sports Southwest (Ch. 27 in Northwest Arkansas). Dave Neal and Larry Conley will handle the play-by-play and color commentary duties for the broadcast.
Arkansas leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt, 24-17, but the Commodores have won the last six meetings. Last season, the Commodores came away with three victories, including an 11-1 triumph at the SEC Tournament and a pair of wins in a rain-shortened weekend series in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks are 11-7 all-time in games played on Vanderbilt’s home field. In their last visit to Nashville, the Hogs lost two games at Hawkins Field during the 2008 season.
Entering the matchup, the Razorbacks sit in second place in the SEC Western Division tied with Ole Miss and one game behind first-place Auburn. Ole Miss and Auburn play each other this weekend in Oxford. The Commodores are currently in third place in the SEC Eastern Division and clinched their spot in the SEC Tournament last weekend.
The series between Arkansas (38-15, 16-11 SEC) and Vanderbilt (39-13, 15-10 SEC) will feature two of the top-three pitching staffs in the conference. The Commodores are second in the SEC with a 3.66 team ERA, while the Hogs aren’t far behind with their 3.89 ERA. Statistically, Vanderbilt holds the advantage at the plate with a .319 batting average compared to Arkansas’ .312 figure.
The Razorbacks will start Drew Smyly in Thursday’s opener. The left-handed sophomore carries an 8-1 record this season with a 2.40 ERA, the second-lowest mark in the SEC. Smyly suffered his first loss of the season in his last outing despite a seven-inning, nine-strikeout performance. Mike Bolsinger is scheduled to get the ball for game two. After a stint in the bullpen, Bolsinger returned to the rotation May 9 at Ole Miss. He is 5-3 this season with a 4.66 ERA. Sunday’s starter has yet to be named.
Vanderbilt will counter Thursday with Sonny Gray (7-4, 3.45 ERA, Friday with Taylor Hill (5-3, 3.57 ERA) and Saturday with Jack Armstrong (7-1, 3.53 ERA). Gray is fourth in the conference with 83 strikeouts and the right-handed sophomore is holding opponents to a .230 batting average.
In the May 16 release of the RPI by the NCAA, Arkansas is ranked No. 8. Fans can follow the action on the Razorback Sports Network from ISP. Chuck Barrett will have the call of action and handle the play-by-play duties for the network. An audio stream and live stats for the Hogs’ series at Vanderbilt will be available at the official online home of Razorback athletics, ArkansasRazorbacks.com.