UA baseball team heads on road for nine

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Arkansas Kentucky Saturday, March 17, 2018, during the inning at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas Kentucky Saturday, March 17, 2018, during the inning at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Baum Stadium has been a balm for the Arkansas Razorbacks, who vaulted to No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches poll on Monday after sweeping then No. 4 Kentucky over the weekend to cap an 11-2 home stand over the last three weeks.

The surprising bombardment of Kentucky by scores of 9-4, 14-2 and 16-9, which featured 13 home runs and 39 runs scored, helped shortstop Jax Biggers earn SEC player of the week honors and third baseman Casey Martin pull down the SEC freshman of the week award on Monday.

Now the road beckons and it's a long, difficult road for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (16-4) which takes on the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (11-8) at 6:05 tonight in a neutral site game at BB&T Ballpark, the home of the Charlotte Knights, the Class AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. The teams hook up again on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Hayes Stadium on the Charlotte campus.

The nine-game road trip will be the longest for the Hogs during the 16-year tenure of Coach Dave Van Horn and the longest since an eight-game trip to College Station and Edinburg, Texas, in 2004. Arkansas will take on No. 2 Florida, Memphis, and No. 5 Ole Miss for seven more games before returning to Baum Stadium on April 3 against Louisiana-Monroe.

"We'll just try and regroup for the next couple of days and go down there and play," Van Horn said after Saturday's doubleheader sweep. "I'll definitely try and mix up the lineups and get some guys in there that are ready to roll."

The Razorbacks have announced sophomore right-hander Barrett Loseke (0-0, 11.25 ERA) as today's starter, while junior left-hander Weston Rogers from Springdale Har-Ber is likely to make his 2018 debut in Wednesday's game.

Charlotte will start junior right hander Chase Gooding (2-0, 2.77), who has allowed 11 hits and 5 walks while striking out 16 in 13 innings.

Biggers led last week's offensive onslaught, which also included 13-4 and 7-5 victories over Texas, with a .588 average, including 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 7 RBI. Biggers went 9 of 12 against Kentucky, with 7 RBI, 4 runs and home runs in both games of Saturday's double header.

Martin hit .350 for the week, with 3 home runs and 7 RBI. The infielder from Lonoke went 4 of 13 in the three-game set against Kentucky, the Razorbacks' first sweep of the Wildcats since 2004.

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The Arkansas hitters had a field day against Kentucky's veteran staff, with all nine starters posting hits in each of the three games.

In any other week, outfielder Eric Cole (7 of 16, 6 runs, 3 RBI vs. Kentucky), second baseman Carson Shaddy (7 of 13, 6 runs, 4 RBI), designated hitter Luke Bonfield (5 of 10, 5 runs, 5 RBI), outfielder Heston Kjerstad (4 of 10, 5 runs, 6 RBI) or Grant Koch (5 of 13, 4 runs, 6 RBI) would have had strong qualifications for SEC player of the week.

Charlotte has a .317 batting average and 4.69 ERA. The 49ers are led at the plate by Todd Elwood (.423, 5 RBI, Harris Yett (.419, 3 HR, 19 RBI), Jackson Mims (.380, 4 HR, 15 RBI), Reece Hampton (.369, 15 RBI) and Drew Ober (.275, 3 HR, 20 RBI).

Sports on 03/20/2018

UP NEXT

ARKANSAS AT CHARLOTTE

WHEN 6:05 p.m., Tuesday

WHERE BB&T Park, Charlotte, N.C.

RECORDS No. 4 Arkansas 16-4; Charlotte 11-8

STARTING PITCHERS Arkansas: RHP Barrett Loseke (0-0, 11.25 ERA); Charlotte: RHP Chase Gooding (2-0, 2.77)

SERIES Tied 1-1

LAST MEETING Arkansas won 11-3 at the NCAA Tempe Regional on June 5, 2011

RADIO Razorback Sports Network. Not all games will be carried by all affiliates. Check local listings.

TV BeIN Sports (check local listings)

SHORT HOPS Arkansas and Charlotte split two games at the NCAA Tempe Regional in 2011, with the 49ers winning 3-2 on June 3 and the Razorbacks eliminating Charlotte 11-3 two days later. … Charlotte has agreed to return these two games at Baum Stadium in 2019. … Arkansas is No. 1 in SEC hitting (.327, No. 3 in pitching (2.63 ERA) and No. 10 in fielding (.973). … Charlotte is No. 1 in Conference USA in hitting (.317), No. 8 in pitching (4.69 ERA) and No. 7 in fielding (.967). … The Razorbacks were involved in an SEC-opening sweep for the fourth consecutive season, joining losses at Vanderbilt (2015) and South Carolina (2016) and victories over Mississippi State (2017). … The teams will play the first of a two-game set in Charlotte, the first at BB&T Ballpark in downtown Charlotte, N.C., and the second at Charlotte’s Hayes Stadium on Wednesday. … Arkansas has eight regulars hitting .300 or better, led by SEC freshman of the week Casey Martin (.393), Eric Cole (.388), Luke Bonfield (.386) and SEC player of the week Jax Biggers (.368), as well as Evan Lee (.385), Jordan McFarland (.368) and Hunter Wilson (.333), who do not have enough at-bats to qualify. … The 49ers were swept by Georgia by the scores of 12-2, 6-4 and 10-7 in Athens, Ga., from Feb. 23-25 in their only previous games vs. an SEC opponent this year.

THE WEEK AHEAD

TODAY vs. Charlotte#, 6:05 p.m.

WEDNESDAY at Charlotte (CST), 3 p.m.

THURSDAY Off

FRIDAY at Florida*, 5:30 p.m. (SECN+)

SATURDAY at Florida*, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)

SUNDAY at Florida*, 11 a.m. (SECN)

MONDAY Off

*SEC game

BB&T Park, Charlotte

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