Tigers Welcome Razorbacks to Plainsman Park for Top-15 Series
Luke Jarvis is hitting .302 with two home runs and eight RBI over the last ten games
(Photo: Auburn Athletics/Wade Rackley)
Just as the previous two SEC series at Plainsman Park, the upcoming series with #14 Arkansas for #10 Auburn is considered to be one of the most important of the season. Auburn has won two in a row, including a 15-7 win over Kennesaw State on Tuesday night. A 12-run fourth inning headlined Luke Jarvis’ grand slam, the second for Auburn in a seven-day span, moved them to victory. The Hogs swept Memphis is a two-game set during the mid-week. Each team won their previous weekend series, with Auburn taking two of three from Tennessee in Knoxville, and Arkansas sweeping Georgia at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville. Auburn answered the call during the SEC opening series against Florida March 17-19, as the Tigers swept the Gators, prompting everyone to keep a close eye on Coach Butch Thompson’s club. Even more, attention was brought on after Conor Davis hit a walk-off blast to win the series against another nationally ranked foe, South Carolina. This weekend, the Tigers call the Hogs to Plainsman Park for a battle of two teams who sit atop the SEC West standings. Arkansas has sole possession of the division at 30-8, 11-4 in the conference. Auburn is one game back at 27-11, 10-5 in SEC play. This series will see two teams that feature very different offensive styles. Arkansas leads the conference in home runs, and it’s not even close. The Hogs have belted 53 home runs to this point, with the second place team only hitting 39. No one hitter stands out as the breadwinner in that category, as everyone who sees significant playing time has at least three. Grant Koch and Chad Spanberger lead the team with nine home runs, Carson Shaddy is next with eight, followed by Luke Bonfield’s seven. Spanberger leads the team in RBI (42) and hits (49), Koch leads in doubles (11) and total bases (85). Bonfield was named SEC player of the week after a weekend that saw the junior record 11 RBI and two home runs while batting .400 in games vs Missouri State and Georgia. The weekend rotation for Arkansas will see Blaine Knight throw on Friday, Trevor Stephan on Saturday and TBA Sunday. Arkansas pitching is third in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings with 10.3. Both named weekend starters are in the top-5 in strikeout to walk ratio; Blaine Knight strikes out 9.83 batters for every walk, Stephan has a 6.30 ratio. The Hogs staff has 392 strikeouts compared to just 119 walks allowed. Coach Butch Thompson announced the weekend rotation on Thursday, with a surprise. Keegan Thompson and Davis Daniel will each get a start this weekend on Friday and Saturday respectively, with Sunday listed as TBA. Ace Casey Mize is not listed to pitch this weekend, citing “fatigue” according to Coach Thompson. Coach Thompson went with a similar strategy three weekends ago against South Carolina, by sitting Keegan Thompson for the series. Keegan Thompson exited his start against Georgia on March 24 after four complete innings as a precaution and would gain fifteen days of rest. Mize tossed a complete game in Keegan Thompson’s absence, striking out 12 and allowing four earned runs in a win over South Carolina. In his last three SEC starts, Mize has thrown 120 pitches, 113 pitches, and 82 pitches. #10 Auburn opens a three-game set with #14 Arkansas at Plainsman Park beginning Friday at 6 P.M. AUBURN vs ARKANSAS WHERE: PLAINSMAN PARK, AUBURN UNIVERSITY FRI- 6 P.M. (Thompson vs Knight) SAT- 1 P.M. (Daniel vs Stephan) SUN- 3 P.M. (TBA vs TBA) Each game can be heard on the Auburn Sports Network, or on the official Auburn Athletics app.