Baseball Weekend Preview: Vols vs. #14 Arkansas (Thu-Sat)

Jeff Moberg - UT / Credit: UT Athletics

Baseball Weekend Preview: Vols vs. #14 Arkansas (Thu-Sat)

Jeff Moberg – UT / Credit: UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Baseball continues Southeastern Conference play this weekend, hosting the No. 14-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks for a three-game set from Thursday, May 4 – Saturday, May 6 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The weekend marks the first trip to Rocky Top for Arkansas (34-12, 13-8 SEC) since 2012, as well as the first matchup between the Razorbacks and Volunteers (23-18, 6-14 SEC) since the 2015 SEC Tournament, when Arkansas took a 2-1 win in Hoover, Ala.

The Vols enter Thursday’s series opener having claimed four of their last five games, including a 9-3, come-from-behind victory at Vanderbilt last Saturday. Arkansas dropped their last three-game conference series vs. Ole Miss, splitting a Fridaydoubleheader at Baum Stadium.

On the season, the Volunteers are playing 15 of their 55 regular season games against five 2016 NCAA postseason participants.

Weekend Rotation

  • Thur. May 4 at 7 p.m. ET – RHP Hunter Martin (4-5, 3.07 ERA) vs. RHP Blaine Knight (6-3, 3.48 ERA)
  • Fri. May 5 at 6 p.m. ET – RHP Garrett Stallings (3-1, 2.83 ERA) vs. RHP Trevor Stephan (4-3, 3.54 ERA)
  • Sat. May 6 at 1 p.m. ET – LHP Zach Warren (2-4, 5.09 ERA) vs. TBA

Tennessee vs. Arkansas

  • All-time vs. Arkansas: Arkansas leads, 32-26
  • In Knoxville: Tennessee leads, 13-12
  • In Fayetteville: Arkansas leads, 17-12
  • Last 10 Games: Arkansas leads, 8-2
  • Last Series: Tied, 1-1, in Fayetteville
  • Last Meeting: Arkansas won, 2-1, in 2015 SEC Tournament (May 19, 2015)

Tennessee and Arkansas are looking to play the first, full three-game series between the programs since 2013, when the Hogs took two of three in Fayetteville. In 2015, the programs split a rain-shortened series, 1-1, at Baum Stadium.

Checking on the Hogs

  • Arkansas heads to Knoxville looking to claim its first SEC series since April 13-15, when the Hogs took three straight games vs. Georgia.
  • At 13-8 in league play, Arkansas sits in third place in the SEC West Division and pulled a No. 14-overall national ranking from the NCBWA this week (May 1).
  • Series opener starter Blaine Knight was one of 40 players across the nation named to the Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List.
  • Jax Biggers (.329), Chad Spanberger (.311) and Luke Bonfield (.309) lead the Razorbacks’ offense, while Spanberger also owns a team-best 46 RBI.
  • As a team, the Razorbacks continue to lead the SEC with 58 home runs and 452 batters struck out.

Tennessee on [Rocky] Top

UT on NCAA charts (as of May 3):

  • Team ERA: 32nd (3.60)
  • Team Hits Allowed/Nine Innings: 34th (8.109)
  • Team WHIP: 30th (1.27)
  • Jordan Rodgers: 1.50 hits per game (T-48th)
  • Hunter Martin: three complete games (11th) and 11 games started (T-25th)

As a team, Tennessee ranks among the SEC’s Top 10 in the following categories (as of May 2):

  • Batting Average: 8th (.274)
  • Team On-Base Percentage: 9th (.364)
  • Team Triples: T-2nd (12)
  • Team Walks: 9th (174)
  • Team Stolen Bases: 7th (46)
  • Team ERA: 8th (3.60)
  • Opponent B/Avg.: 7th (.240)
  • Batters Struck Out Looking: 10th (106)
  • Runners Picked Off: 8th (5)
  • Fewest Hits Allowed: T-3rd (333)
  • Fewest Runs Allowed: 5th (175)
  • Fewest Walks Allowed: 5th (137)
  • Fewest Doubles Allowed: T-3rd (60)
  • Fewest Home Runs Allowed: 3rd (22)
  • Double Plays Turned: T-9th (32)

Vols rank among the SEC’s Top 10 in the following categories (as of May 2):

  • Jeff Moberg: .337 average (9th), three triples (T-3rd) and nine HBP (T-9th)
  • Jordan Rodgers: .361 average (4th), .560 slugging percentage (7th), 60 hits (8th) and 93 total bases (T-9th)
  • Pete Derkay: .444 OBP (7th), 31 walks (T-6th) and 1.000 fielding percentage (T-1st)
  • Andre Lipcius: 352 putouts (T-3rd) and 29 double plays fielded (T-6th)
  • Dom Thornton: 1.000 fielding percentage (T-1st)
  • Hunter Martin: 73.1 innings pitched (T-2nd), 73 batters struck out (6th) and 27 batters struck out looking (T-3rd)
  • Garrett Stallings: fewest walks allowed (12 – T-7th)
  • Will Neely: fewest hits allowed (36 – T-4th), fewest walks allowed (9 – 6th)
  • Zach Linginfelter: fewest hits allowed (39 – 9th)
  • Jon Lipinski: 15 games finished (T-4th)

Quick Hits: 2017 Volunteers

  • Walk This Way: With two walks in last Saturday’s game at Vanderbilt, Pete Derkay extended his team-leading count to 31. The outing marked his first game with multiple walks since April 4 against MTSU.
  • Rodger(s) That: Senior Jordan Rodgers’ 8th-inning grand slam on Saturday at Vanderbilt marked the first for a Vol since VFL Vincent Jackson did so vs. Tennessee Tech (March 22, 2016).
  • More on Martin…: Senior Hunter Martin ranks tied for third in the SEC with 27 batters stuck out looking as well as second with 73.1 innings pitched on the year. With his complete game effort last Friday at Vanderbilt, Martin boasts three complete games on the year. He is the first UT pitcher to record multiple complete games in a single season since Zack Godley did so in 2013 (6).
  • The Vols have combined for 105 extra-base hits this year, including 25 home runs (surpassing 2016’s complete season total).
  • The Vols’ 2017 roster boasts 17 newcomers including 14 true freshmen, two JUCO transfers and one graduate transfer.
  • Despite losing seven positional starters from the 2016 season, UT returns 18 lettermen including six true seniors.

Freeman: SEC Community Service Honors

  • Eric Freeman has been named one of the 2016-17 Brad Davis Southeastern Conference Community Service Leaders of the Year, Commissioner Greg Sankey and the league office announced Wednesday.
  • Freeman was chosen by a committee of faculty athletics representatives from SEC universities and will receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship, provided by the SEC.

Tuesday’s Gone

  • Using a two-run homer by redshirt senior Jeff Moberg and a five-run eighth frame, the Tennessee Volunteers drove past ETSU, 9-2, on Tuesday night.
  • With the win, Tennessee finishes its overall three-game series with the Bucs at 2-1 this season.
  • With a two-run homer in the third inning, Jeff Moberg now shares the team lead with Jordan Rodgers at seven on the year.
  • Righty Will Neely entered in the third in relief of Zach Warren and dealt 5.0 innings en route to earning his third win of the year.
  • Designated hitter Will Heflin recorded his first career extra-base hit (double) as well as his first career multi-hit game for UT.

On Deck for the Vols

  • Tennessee plays back-to-back midweek contests next week, hosting Belmont on Tuesday, May 9 before traveling to Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday, May 10.
  • The Vols then continue on to Lexington for a three-game set visiting SEC opponent Kentucky Wildcats (Friday, May 12 – Sunday, May 14).


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