FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas had good luck against one baseball team from the Ocean State; why not another.
The Razorbacks play host to Rhode Island this weekend at Baum Stadium for a three-game series. URI is in Kingston, a 40-mile drive south of Smithfield, site of the Bryant University campus. Arkansas swept a three-game February series from the Bulldogs, generally the best college baseball team in the state. Now it gets the bigger school.
Coach Dave Van Horn’s Diamond Hogs (10-3) get back in action after a two-game sweep of Louisiana Monroe on Tuesday and Thursday. They might even have started to find an answer for one of their biggest remaining questions.
And that’s who is will start the the third weekend game.
Sophomore right-hander Blaine Knight did everything expected of him as the Razorbacks’ Friday night starter. He has a 19-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 15 innings over his three starts . His earned-run average is 2.40.
Saturday starter Trevor Stephan has been just as good, going 3-0 in three starts, striking out 19 in his 15 2/3 innings.
The other rotation spot remains open. Redshirt freshman Kevin Kopps started the first two Sunday games with mixed results. Fifth-year senior Josh Alberius had the most recent Sunday start but went just two innings.
Van Horn staged auditioning for the assignment in both games against Louisiana Monroe. Both options, Dominic Taccolini and Kacey Murphy, looked the part, striking out 10 and nine in six and five innings, respectively.
Don’t be surprised if one of them starts on Sunday. Knight and Stephan will be busy on Friday as Arkansas and Rhode Island are scheduled for a double-header.
Arkansas bats have been good. It’s only a matter of continuing what’s been going well. The Razorbacks are second in the SEC in runs scored.
Rhode Island (5-7) is a stiffer test than Louisiana Monroe.
The Rams play in the Atlantic 10 and were picked to win the conference for the second consecutive season. They’re led by left-handed starter Tyler Wilson, who is as good as anyone on the Arkansas roster. Wilson had a 2.29 ERA last season, with 122 strikeouts in 110 innings. He is All-America material.
Arkansas remains the better of the two teams. But in a truncated weekend, who knows what could happen.
What times are the games in the series?
Friday: 3 p.m. (all times local to Fayetteville)
Friday Game 2: 40 minutes after conclusion of Game 1
Sunday: 1 p.m.
How can I watch the games?
The three games can be seen on SEC Network+.
Who is calling the Arkansas games?
Alex Perlman (play-by-play) and Troy Eklund (analyst) have the television call.