Razorback baseball report:

SEC title not focus for Hogs in College Station

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, May 16, 2019
Arkansas second baseman Jack Kenley gets ready to throw during a game against LSU on Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas second baseman Jack Kenley gets ready to throw during a game against LSU on Saturday, May 11, 2019, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas baseball team finds itself in a four-team race for the SEC championship going into the final weekend of the regular season.

Vanderbilt (20-7) has the SEC overall lead followed by Arkansas (19-8), Georgia (18-9) and Mississippi State (18-9).

The Razorbacks are going for their third SEC championship. They also won in 1999 when they were 22-8 and in 2004 when they were 19-11.

Arkansas junior second baseman Jack Kenley said the players are focused on playing at Texas A&M -- where they open a three-game series at 6 tonight on ESPNU -- rather than being on the verge of winning the SEC championship.

"That's not really what we're thinking about too much," Kenley said. "It's pretty much just winning ballgames.

"Every game is weighted the same in the W column. Obviously, we want to get down to College Station and really get after it."

Kenley paused for a moment when asked what it would mean to win Arkansas' first SEC championship in 15 years.

"I've never done it before," he said. "I'll let you know, perhaps, if it happens."

In addition to Vanderbilt having a one-game lead over Arkansas, the Commodores have a weaker opponent this weekend -- at least based on the standings.

The Commodores are playing at home against Kentucky (7-20) while the Razorbacks are playing the Aggies (14-12-1) on the road.

Georgia and Mississippi State also have easier opponents on paper, and both sets of Bulldogs are playing at home. Georgia is playing Alabama (7-20) and Mississippi State is playing South Carolina (7-20).

Aggies' motivation

Texas A&M's incentive to win this weekend encompasses much more than a matchup with SEC West rival Arkansas or senior day festivities associated with the final regular-season series.

The No. 19 Aggies look to be right on the bubble when it comes to earning a host role for an NCAA regional. No. 2 Vanderbilt, No. 4 Arkansas, No. 5 Mississippi State and No. 7 Georgia look destined for hosting duties and possible national seeds, while No. 16 Ole Miss is also in the conversation to host.

A season-ending series victory over the hot Razorbacks would bolster Texas A&M's resume to host, and Coach Rob Childress said he's addressed that possibility with his team.

"Our guys are into it and understand what's going on across the country in the scope of college baseball and where we stand in the rankings and from an RPI standpoint, from a conference standpoint," Childress said. "It's all right there before us. We still don't need anybody's help. We need to go take care of ourselves."

Ezell earns honor

Arkansas senior Trevor Ezell was named Wednesday to the SEC baseball community service team. The graduate transfer from Bryant has been involved in numerous service projects this season, including Christmas gift deliveries to Greenland Elementary, the annual Book Hogs program to promote reading, and a visit to the Veterans Administration hospital on Valentine's Day.

Dave's assistants

Texas A&M Coach Rob Childress will be the fourth of Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn's former assistants that he has faced this season, along with University of Arkansas at Little Rock Coach Chris Curry, Louisiana Tech Coach Lane Burroughs and Tennessee Coach Tony Vitello.

UALR beat Arkansas 17-7 while the Razorbacks swept a three-game series from the Vols, winning 11-9, 15-3 and 4-3 in 10 innings.

The Razorbacks won two games against Louisiana Tech by scores of 4-2 and 11-0, and lost the middle game of the series 12-7.

While Curry and Vitello were on Van Horn's staff at Arkansas, Childress was his assistant at Texarkana Community College, Northwestern State and Nebraska. Burroughs coached for Van Horn at Northwestern State.

"I certainly wouldn't be where I am today without Coach Van Horn," Childress said. "He and his wife and daughters have been lifelong family friends of ours."

Van Horn and Childress have met 20 times as head coaches since 2008, with the Razorbacks having a 13-7 edge.

WHIP it good

Arkansas junior pitcher Isaiah Campbell has a WHIP of 0.94 to rank fourth in the SEC, and 24th in the nation.

WHIP is calculated by dividing innings pitched by combined hits and walks allowed. Any number lower than 1.0 is considered excellent.

Campbell (9-1, 2.57 ERA) has 91 strikeouts, 14 walks and 65 hits allowed in 84 innings.

"They've got a true No. 1 in Campbell," Texas A&M Coach Rob Childress said. "I mean he's 9-1 on the year and has been very good."

Sports on 05/16/2019


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