FAYETTEVILLE – The Arkansas baseball team finishes the 2011 regular season with a pivotal three-game series against Ole Miss this weekend at Baum Stadium. Game times are 6:35 p.m. on Thursday, 6 p.m. on Friday and 2:05 p.m. on Saturday.Two games in the weekend series will be televised with Friday’s game being shown on CSS and CST and Saturday’s game being televised by CST. Fans can also listen to all three games of the weekend series on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network from IMG College. Three-time Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year Chuck Barrett (play-by-play) and former Arkansas Sports Information Director Rick Schaeffer (analyst) will call the action.
Single-game tickets for both midweek contests¬ are still available. Tickets are $10 for reserved seats and can be purchased by calling 1-800-982-HOGS (4647), by visiting the online ticket center at ArkansasRazorbacks.com and on gameday at Baum Stadium, while supplies last.
Senior outfielder Kyle Robinson and senior manager Trey Baughtman will be honored on Saturday as part of Senior Day festivities at Baum Stadium. Also planned for this weekend is a fireworks show following Friday night’s contest.
The Razorbacks, ranked as high as 18th in the country, are currently 34-17 overall and 13-14 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas enters the weekend looking to clinch a berth in the 2011 SEC Baseball Tournament, scheduled for next week at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. The Razorbacks are currently in a four-way tie for first in the Western Division, with all six teams in the division still having a chance to qualify for the conference tournament. Eastern Division teams Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Vanderbilt have already clinched spots for the league tournament.Arkansas is coming off a 6-2 midweek victory over UT Martin on Tuesday night. Robinson hit his eighth homer of the season and drove in five runs in the win. The Razorbacks dropped two of three games at then-No. 4 South Carolina last weekend, winning the opener, but falling in the final two games of the series.Dominic Ficociello leads Arkansas with a .363 batting average on the season with four homers and a team-high 47 RBI. Ficociello leads all freshmen in the SEC in batting average, hits (66), doubles (15) and RBI (47). James McCann is hitting .312 on the year and has six homers and 28 RBI. Robinson (.295, 8 HR, 42 RBI) and Jarrod McKinney (.293, 2 HR, 18 RBI) and hitting just below .300.Sophomore righty DJ Baxendale will start Thursday’s series opener. Baxendale, who has won his last three starts, brings an 8-1 record with a 1.57 ERA into Thursday’s contest. Baxendale is coming off a win over South Carolina last weekend, where he threw six innings and allowed just one run. On Friday, sophomore southpaw Randall Fant will get the ball. Fant is 2-3 with a 3.58 ERA in 17 appearances, including eight starts. Fant’s last outing was last Saturday against South Carolina. Fant received a no decision after allowing five runs in five innings of work. Arkansas has not announced a starter for Saturday’s game.
Trent Daniel has appeared out of the bullpen 20 times in 2011 and has a 2-0 record with two saves and a 1.91 ERA. Barrett Astin has pitched in 21 games, 19 in relief, and is 4-1 with a save and a 3.00 ERA. Nolan Sanburn leads Arkansas with 23 appearances on the season and is 2-4 with a team-high eight saves and a 3.73 ERA.
Ole Miss is 29-23 on the season and 12-15 in league games. The Rebels are currently in fifth place in the Western Division, but are just a game back of the four division leaders. Ole Miss defeated Southeast Missouri State, 10-6, on Tuesday night in Oxford. In its most recent conference series, Ole Miss dropped two of three games to Mississippi State. As a team, the Rebels are hitting .285 on the season, while the pitching staff has a team ERA of 4.29.
Alex Yarbrough has been the top offensive performer for the Rebels in 2011, currently hitting a team-best .351 with seven homers and a team-high 38 RBI. Tanner Mathis is batting .343 with 27 RBI, while Matt Smith is hitting .324 with seven homers and 30 RBI. Matt Snyder leads the team in home runs with eight and is hitting .293 with 37 RBI.
Junior left hander Matt Crouse will start the series opener for Ole Miss. Crouse is 6-4 with a 3.56 ERA on the season. In the middle game of the series, junior righty David Goforth is the projected starter. Goforth is 4-7 with a 5.03 ERA in 13 starts. Junior left-handed pitcher Austin Wright, who is 5-4 with a 4.73 ERA, will start the finale on Saturday.
Out of the bullpen, Brett Huber has appeared in a team-high 22 games and is 2-1 with four saves and a 3.68 ERA. Jake Morgan is the team’s save leader with five and is 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 10 outings. Bobby Wahl also has four saves on the year and is 0-1 with a 4.13 ERA in 17 games. Eric Callender has thrown in 20 games and has a 1-0 record with a 3.78 ERA.
Arkansas and Ole Miss have met 63 times previously with the Razorbacks holding a 35-28 edge, including a 15-13 advantage when the two teams meet in Fayetteville. The two teams have split the last four series, with the road team winning each year. In 2010, Arkansas won two of three games from Ole Miss in Oxford.