Hogs and Gators pushed to today

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, May 25, 2018
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn watches from the dugout during an SEC Tournament game against South Carolina on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, in Hoover, Ala.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn watches from the dugout during an SEC Tournament game against South Carolina on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, in Hoover, Ala.

HOOVER, Ala. -- Another showdown between two of the SEC's elite teams -- the No. 7 Arkansas Razorbacks and No. 3 Florida -- will get an early morning start at the SEC Tournament today.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and the defending national champion Gators were scheduled to be the late game Thursday night at the Hoover Met, but a lengthy rain delay and two extra-inning games necessitated the move. The decision was made by SEC officials in consultation with Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn and Florida Coach Kevin O'Sullivan.

The delay will give Arkansas ace Blaine Knight (9-0, 2.88 ERA) a full week's rest since his 7-6 victory at Georgia last Thursday.

Florida ace Brady Singer has been dealing with a hamstring issue that kept him out of last week's series where the Gators were slept by Mississippi State. The Gators have announced freshman right-hander Jack Leftwich (4-4, 4.80) as their probable starter against the Razorbacks.

The first game Thursday experienced a delay of 1 hour, 54 minutes before Ole Miss outlasted Georgia 5-4 in 10 innings. The day's second game was lengthy as well, with LSU claiming a 6-4 victory over South Carolina in 12 innings in a game that lasted 4:17. Thursday's third game between Auburn and Texas A&M started at 7:55 p.m Central.

The loser of the morning game will have to face LSU in the third game of the day, while the winner will advance to the second semifinal Saturday. The first seminal is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.

Florida (42-15) seemingly has a top eight national seed sewn up for the NCAA Tournament after winning the SEC regular season title and earning the No. 1 seed for the SEC Tournament. Arkansas (38-17) blasted No. 24 South Carolina 13-8 late Wednesday for a victory that would have the Hogs on the brink of a top eight seed of its own.

The Razorbacks crushed Florida and Singer 16-0 in their last meeting in Hoover in last year's SEC Tournament semifinals.

The Gators won the season series 2-1 in Gainesville, Fla., on March 23-25.

Knight out dueled Singer 6-3 in the opener, then the Gators put a 17-2 blowout on the Hogs and starter Isaiah Campbell the following day.

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The rubber match went back and forth with each team taking leads through the first four innings. Arkansas tied it 3-3 in the fifth on a Dominic Fletcher sacrifice fly that followed an Eric Cole walk and Heston Kjerstad's double. However, Nelson Maldonado hit a two-run home run off Matt Cronin in the seventh to put the Gators ahead for good in a 5-4 victory. Arkansas outhit Florida 10-5 in that loss.

"What you get in Florida is a team that maybe had a rough week last week," Van Horn said early Thursday morning after the Hogs' victory over South Carolina. "We had a disappointing weekend against a good [Georgia] team.

"What they've done better than us this year is they've played better defense. They have a really experienced team, a national championship team and they're hitting 30 points higher as a team than they did last year and they're pitching staff is probably better. I think it's going to be a great ball game."

Today’s game

NO. 7 ARKANSAS VS. NO. 3 FLORIDA

WHAT SEC Tournament WHEN 10 a.m. Central WHERE Hoover (Ala.) Metropolitan Stadium RECORDS Arkansas 38-17; Florida 42-15 TV SEC Network

Sports on 05/25/2018

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