The No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks are back in action for another mid-week contest against an in-state program when the Central Arkansas Bears visit Baum-Walker Stadium at 6 p.m. before the Hogs hit the road for their SEC series with the Georgia Bulldogs.
The Razorbacks’ series with Georgia (19-7, 4-11 SEC) is a Thursday-through-Saturday affair. Thursday’s opener will be televised on the SEC Network. Friday and Saturday’s games can be streamed on the SEC Network +.
Last week Razorback skipper Dave Van Horn used midweek games against UALR — which the Hogs split — to play a variety of Razorbacks who had not gotten as much playing time in SEC games of late, and that might be the plan for today as well, although the Hogs did struggle to defeat the Bears, 2-1, last season in a game at North Little Rock in Dickey-Stephens Park.
Van Horn’s view of today’s game is to play well and win, but he’s not going to allow his club to leave something on the field in a non-conference game that might affect his squad for this week’s series at Georgia.
With five SEC series to play, virtually anything can happen. The Hogs have just two more home SEC series with three road trips. The Bulldogs are lodged at the bottom of the Eastern Division standings, but every SEC program is dangerous on its own turf.
The Razorbacks played excellent ball last weekend in their sweep of Tennessee, but nothing can be taken for granted in league play.
Opponent: vs. UCA
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 18
Where: Baum-Walker Stadium, Fayetteville
6 p.m. Thursday — at Georgia (SEC Network)
5 p.m. Friday — at Georgia (SEC+)
1 p.m. Saturday — at Georgia (SEC+)
The sweep of the Vols did create a bit of cushion between the No. 5 Razorbacks and No. 1 LSU.
Arkansas (11-4) currently leads the Tigers (9-5) in the West race by a game and a half. The Razorbacks are four games up on Texas A&M (7-8), which is ranked third in the West.
The SEC seems to be unbalanced at the moment with the East leading the way. Vanderbilt is on top of the East at 13-2 with a two-game lead over Florida (11-4). South Carolina (10-4) is third, and Kentucky (10-5) is fourth.
Yes, LSU, the No. 1 team in the country, is basically sixth in the SEC race at the moment.
However, the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index deems Kentucky No. 1 in the land, followed by South Carolina at No. 2, LSU at No. 3, Arkansas at No. 5, Vanderbilt at No. 7, Florida at No. 11, Alabama at No. 22, Tennessee at No. 23, Mississippi State at No. 24, Missouri at No. 35, Georgia at No. 38, Auburn at No. 44, Texas A&M at No. 45, and Ole Miss at No. 53.
A recent projection had Arkansas at a No. 9 Seed in the NCAA Tournament at midseason, which would mean a host role in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and perhaps a road trip in the second round.
Such prognostications are fun, but meaningless. There is a ton of baseball left to be played.
With 15 SEC games left on each team’s slate, nothing has been earned yet. The Razorbacks will get their shots at South Carolina at home and Vandy on the road in the final regular-season series. A tough trip to Mississippi State is on the docket, and the Aggies visit Baum-Walker Stadium a week from Thursday.
But at the moment, UCA and then Georgia should be all that’s on the Hogs’ mind.
Collegiate Baseball Newspaper named Razorback co-captain Jace Bohrofen its National Player of the week for his four home run week and efforts in helping the Hogs to their sweep of then nationally ranked Tennessee.
The Oklahoma City native hit .375 with five extra-base hits, including a double along with his quartet of homers. He also swatted nine RBI last week and played well in left field.
However news isn’t good for his outfield mate Jared Wenger, who had been playing left field, before injuring his left thumb. Wenger, who missed the bulk of the Tennessee series, will be out three to four more weeks with the injury. That would possibly have him ready to return for the final SEC series against Vanderbilt. Maybe a bit earlier. It would be great if he could return for the final home series against South Carolina, May 12-14.