Diamond Hogs enter SEC play against Missouri

The No. 1 Arkansas Razorbacks baseball team is riding a 10-game winning streak as it enters SEC play this weekend with a three-game series against the Missouri Tigers.

The Hogs (14-2), however, have a good “problem” with their infield and batting lineup thanks to the return last week of second baseman Peyton Stovall from a foot injury.

Stovall, who returned to the roster as a pinch hitter last weekend, moved back into his regular second base spot in Tuesday’s 4-2 victory over ORU.

That allows Peyton Holt to move back to third base where he was slated to start before Stovall’s injury moved him to second base.

However, the opening at third base that moved Holt to second left the door ajar for Jared Sprague-Lott to join the lineup, and he played so well at third that Razorbacks head coach Dave Van Horn has a decision to make on whom he’s going to start on the left corner.

Sprague-Lott is leading the team in batting at the moment with a .381 average and 6 RBI, and Holt is right behind him with .372 average and 5 RBI.

While there is little doubt that Van Horn has a plan for that log-jam of talent, he played coy with the media in his press conference Thursday.

It seems logical that one will move into the designated hitter role, while the other starts at third. But the DH is crowded, too. Ross Lovich (.370 and 9 RBI), Nolan Souza (.364 and 6 RBI), and Jayson Jones (.211, 13 RBI) have all performed admirably as the DH.

Jones has three home runs to tie him with Kendall Diggs for the team lead and his 13 RBI is third on the team behind Ben McLaughlin and Wehiwa Aloy, who each have 15.

Up next for the Razorbacks

Opponent: Missouri
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 15
Where: Baum-Walker Stadium, Fayetteville
TV: SEC Network+

Next few games:

March 16 – Missouri, 2 p.m. (SEC+)
March 17 – Missouri, 2 p.m. (SEC+)
March 21-23 – at Auburn

While Arkansas’ batting average and run production has ticked up of late, the Hogs need all the oomph at the plate that they can muster as they enter SEC play.

The Razorbacks have played well all season as their record and ranking attest, but scoring runs hasn’t exactly been their forte. While Jones’ batting average is on the lower side, his 13 RBIs can’t be ignored.

Arkansas’ starting pitching has been on point all season. The Razorbacks are expected to throw left-handed ace Hagen Smith (2-0, 2.13 ERA) in the opener against Missouri with righty Logan Lunceford (1-0, 8.36 ERA).

Right-hander Brady Tygart (3-0, .90 ERA) is expected to start at 2 p.m. Saturday, and Mason Molina (2-0, 2.57 ERA) is expected to start at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Tigers (9-8) have been struggling, but picked up a solid win over arch-rival Kansas, 5-4, in a 10-inning contest on Tuesday.