FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas can’t lose to Missouri in a third straight major sport, right?
The Razorbacks baseball team will try to avenge football and basketball’s losses in the Battle Line Rivalry (which, technically, is just a football thing) when they play Mizzou in a three-game set this weekend in Columbia.
Both Arkansas and Missouri, actually, sit atop their divisions in the SEC. Missouri is perfect in the East; Arkansas is perfect in the West. The Tigers have won 20 straight games since opening the season with a loss. Arkansas has won six straight games and is ranked again.
Neither team was expected to be where it is right now. Perhaps they both will improve on their seven-win (Arkansas) and nine-win (Missouri) SEC seasons in 2016. But it is somewhat surprising that both clubs are nationally ranked and leading their divisions in arguably the best conference in college baseball.
Starting pitching was probably not going to be Missouri’s issue this season. Tanner Houck and Michael Plassmeyer are legit weekend options. Houck, the Friday starter, carries a 2.27 earned-run average and opponents are hitting just .192 off him. Batters are even worse against Plassmeyer, who has a .190 batting-average against.
Missouri’s question was going to be hitting. The Tigers weren’t great at it last season. This isn’t last season. Missouri has seven players batting over .300 this season. They’re third in the SEC in team batting average.
They could cause problems for Arkansas’ staff.
But it’s going to be tough. The Razorbacks have good reason to be proud of what they bring on Friday and Saturday, too. Blaine Knight’s 34-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 26 1/3 innings is something to behold. Trevor Stephan has struck out 40 in 30 1/3 and carries a 1.19 ERA as well.
Missouri has won 20 straight games and that’s impressive. But the Tigers’ schedule to this point hasn’t exactly been awe-inspiring. Even their SEC-opening series victory came against Alabama, which is largely considered one of the likeliest teams to finish in the cellar this season.
Still, an Arkansas series win would go a long way in establishing the Razorbacks as “back” in the SEC swing of things.
What times are the games?
Friday at noon
Saturday at 2 p.m.
Sunday at 1 p.m.
How can I watch?
Games on Friday and Sunday can be seen on SEC Network+. The game on Saturday is on SEC Network.
Who is calling the Arkansas game?
Ben Arnet (play-by-play) and Tim Jamieson (analyst) will call the action Friday and Sunday. Alex Perlman (PBP) and Todd Walker (analyst) have the game on Saturday.