FAYETTEVILLE – After winning six of its last seven games to close out the first half of the Southeastern Conference schedule, Arkansas begins the second half of the league slate this weekend at Kentucky. First pitch is set for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday and Noon on Sunday.Saturday’s game will be televised on FSN with Dave Baker and Larry Conley on the call. Also, all three games this weekend will be broadcast on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network from IMG College. Three-time Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year Chuck Barrett will call the action. Live stats and a live blog will be available on ArkansasRazorbacks.com.The Razorbacks, ranked as high as 12th in the country, enter the weekend with a 27-9 overall record and an 8-7 mark in SEC games. At the halfway point of the league schedule, Arkansas is tied with Alabama and Ole Miss for first place in the Western Division. Arkansas rallied for three runs in the eighth inning on Tuesday to defeat Oral Roberts, 6-5, in Tulsa. The win was the 17th comeback victory of the year for the Razorbacks. Collin Kuhn had three RBI, including a two-run single to tie the game, while James McCann drove in the game-winning run with a double.Freshman Dominic Ficociello leads Arkansas with a .346 batting average on the season to go with two homers and 31 RBI. Reigning SEC Player of the Week Kyle Robinson is hitting .328 with a team-high seven homers and 33 RBI. McCann is hitting .299 with five homers and 21 RBI.Sophomore left-handed pitcher Randall Fant will start Friday night’s series opener. Fant has compiled a 1-2 record with a 3.12 ERA. Sophomore righty DJ Baxendale will get the ball in Saturday’s contest. Baxendale is 5-1 with a 1.62 ERA on the season. Arkansas has not announced a starter for Sunday’s game.Freshman Nolan Sanburn has pitched in a team-leading 17 games and has eight saves on the season with a 2-1 record and a 1.52 ERA. Sanburn has struck out 26 in 23.2 innings and opponents are hitting just .145 against him. Fellow freshman Barrett Astin has pitched in 15 games, 13 in relief, and is 4-1 with a 2.41 ERA. Redshirt sophomore lefty Trent Daniel is 1-0 with a 1.90 ERA in 14 outings, while sophomore southpaw Cade Lynch has compiled a 4-1 record with a 2.76 ERA in 12 appearances.Kentucky brings a 17-21 record and a 2-13 mark in SEC play into this weekend’s series. The Wildcats are currently sixth in the Eastern Division. UK has lost four straight, but two of those losses were by one run, while another was a two-run defeat. Kentucky is coming off an 11-8 loss to Western Kentucky on Tuesday night. Last weekend, the Wildcats were swept in a three-game series at Ole Miss. As a team, Kentucky is hitting .297, while the UK pitching staff has a 4.51 ERA.
The Kentucky offense features six players that are hitting better than .300 on the year. Taylor Black leads the Wildcat offense, hitting .348 with two homers and 27 RBI. Braden Kapteyn leads Kentucky with five homers and 38 RBI and is hitting .331 on the season. Thomas McCarthy is swinging the bat at a .322 clip with four homers and 20 RBI, while J.T. Riddle is batting .321 with three round-trippers and 22 RBI.
Junior right hander Alex Meyer will start the opener for Kentucky on Friday. Meyer is 3-5 with a 3.59 ERA. The Wildcats will throw two lefties to close the series. On Saturday, freshman Corey Littrell will start. Littrell is 4-3 with a 6.13 ERA. In the series wrap-up on Sunday, sophomore southpaw Taylor Rogers is the projected starter. Rogers has a 2-4 record with a 4.89 ERA.
Alex Phillips has been the most called upon reliever out of the Kentucky bullpen, pitching in 19 games with a 1-1 record and a 2.57 ERA. Trevor Gott has appeared in 18 games and is 2-4 on the season with a save and a 1.88 ERA. Mike Kaczmarek leads Kentucky with four saves on the year and is 0-0 with a 6.94 ERA in 15 relief outings.
The Razorbacks lead the all-time series against Kentucky 31-18, including a 12-9 advantage in Lexington. Arkansas has won the last three series vs. the Wildcats, including taking two of three games last year in Fayetteville. Kuhn was the star of that series, going 9-for-14 with two homers, including a walk-off grand slam in Sunday’s series finale.