Baseball Preview: Alabama Travels To Arkansas For Final Road Series
Alabama (27-21, 12-12 SEC) will travel to Fayetteville for its final road series of the regular season. The Tide is coming off of a series win over in-state rival Auburn and repeating that success will play an important role in determining where the team will be seeded in the upcoming SEC Tournament.
Meanwhile, Arkansas (26-22, 7-17 SEC) is looking to make a late push to get into the tournament, and the Razorbacks are much more dangerous than their record shows.
Interestingly enough, this series will be decided by the ability to overcome struggles. Alabama is last in the SEC in team batting average (.250), while Arkansas is at the bottom of the conference in team ERA (4.84). Something has to give as both teams seek consistency.
The Tide will likely rely heavily on its starting pitching rotation like it has done every weekend series this year. RHP Geoffrey Bramblett, RHP Jake Walters, and RHP Nick Eicholtz are all ranked in the top 15 in the SEC in ERA. Bramblett picked up his first win since March 25 after allowing one earned run in 5.2 innings pitched against Auburn. Walters' has the second best ERA in the conference (1.89). Meanwhile, Eicholtz arguably had his worst outing of the year against Auburn after allowing six runs in 6.1 innings pitched.
Arkansas' batting order should challenge Alabama despite the Tide's success on the mound. One player in particular to watch is center fielder Carson Shaddy. He leads the team in batting average (.352) and runs scored (39).
Projected starters for the Razorbacks are RHP Dominic Taccolini, RHP Keaton McKinney, and RHP Zach Jackson. Taccolini has a team best 5-3 record, but one of those losses was in his last start when he allowed five runs in 5.0 innings pitched. McKinney also picked up a loss in his last start after allowing four runs. He also only has one win on the year. Jackson has the best ERA among starters (4.88), but he has started just five games.
Arkansas' pitchers may find moderate success against an Alabama lineup that struggled all year. However, Mitch Gaspard has continued to let the player with the hot bat carry the team. That person right now is catcher Will Haynie, who went 7-for-13 against Auburn with two home runs. His home run on Saturday sent the game into extra innings and helped secure a Tide victory.
Alabama leads the all-time series 43-36. Friday's game will begin at 6:30 p.m. CT, and Saturday's game is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CT. Sunday's finale will start at 1:00 p.m. CT. All three games will be aired on SEC Network+.