FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The 17th-ranked Arkansas baseball team faces its first true road test of the 2013 season this weekend as it travels to Columbia, S.C., to face the No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks. Game times for the weekend series are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, 2:15 p.m. on Saturday and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Friday's game will be televised by CSS, while Saturday's game will be available on FSN. Both games will also be available on ESPN3.com. A video stream of Sunday's game will be available for a fee through GamecocksOnline.com. All three games of the series will be available on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network from IMG. Three-time Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year Chuck Barrett will have the call. A live blog and live stats for each game will be available on ArkansasRazorbacks.com. Fans can also follow updates of each game on @RazorbackBSB, the official Twitter account of the Razorback baseball team.
Arkansas enters the series vs. the Gamecocks with a 14-7 overall record and a 1-2 mark in league play after dropping two of three games to then-No. 8 Ole Miss last weekend at Baum Stadium. The Razorbacks hit .216 as a team vs. the Rebels, while the pitching staff had a team ERA of 2.90.
Joe Serrano led the Razorbacks at the plate in the series vs. Ole Miss, hitting .500 with three RBI and two runs scored. Matt Vinson went 5-for-14 over the three games with a RBI and a run scored. Jacob Mahan reached base seven times in the series, scoring four runs and posting an on-base percentage of .467.
For the season, the Razorbacks are batting .284 as a team. Tyler Spoon leads Arkansas at the plate, hitting .346 with three homers and 26 RBI. Vinson is batting .324 with six RBI, while Mahan has a .322 batting average with a home run and nine RBI. Brian Anderson is batting .321 and has driven in 16 runs, while Serrano is swinging the bat at a .313 clip with a home run and 11 RBI.
On the mound, Arkansas leads the SEC and ranks third nationally with a 1.81 team ERA. The Razorbacks will start junior right hander Barrett Astin on the mound in Friday's opener. Astin has pitched in seven games, three as a starter, and has a 1-1 record with a 1.90 ERA. On Saturday, junior righty Ryne Stanek will get the ball. Stanek has a 1-1 record with a 3.32 ERA in five starts on the season. Senior southpaw Randall Fant will start Sunday's series finale. Fant has started three games and has a 1-0 record with a 1.12 ERA.
Out of the Razorback bullpen, Jalen Beeks has pitched in a team-leading 10 games and has a 2-0 record with one save and a 1.10 ERA. Brandon Moore has pitched seven times, all out of the bullpen, and is 1-2 with a 1.19 ERA. Michael Gunn, Landon Simpson and Tyler Wright have each pitched four times this season and have yet to allow a run.
South Carolina enters the second weekend of conference play with an 18-3 overall record and a 2-1 mark in league play. The Gamecocks opened SEC play last weekend by taking two of three games at Missouri. South Carolina is coming off a 9-5 win at The Citadel on Tuesday night. The Gamecocks enter this weekend's series having won 11 of their last 12 games. As a team, South Carolina is hitting .286, while the pitching staff has a team ERA of 2.18.
The Gamecocks are led at the plate by LB Dantzler, who has hit a SEC-leading seven home runs and is batting .351 with 24 RBI. Joey Pankake is hitting .343 on the season with five round-trippers and 20 RBI, while Tanner English is batting .324 with three RBI. Graham Saiko has a .305 batting average with 10 RBI and a team-leading seven stolen bases. Chase Vergason is hitting .303 with three homers and 11 RBI.
On the mound, sophomore right hander Evan Beal will start the series opener on Friday. Beal has pitched in four games, two as a starter, and has a 2-0 record with a 0.56 ERA. Senior left hander Nolan Belcher will start Saturday's game. Belcher has a 4-1 record with a 1.25 ERA in five starts. The Gamecocks have not announced a starter for Sunday's contest.
Out of the bullpen, Tyler Webb has pitched in a team-leading 11 games and has eight saves on the season. Webb has not allowed a run and has struck out 20 in 13.1 innings. Adam Westmoreland has appeared in six games and is 1-0 with one save and a 1.06 ERA. Joel Seddon has a 1-0 record with a 2.84 ERA in five appearances, four in relief.
Arkansas holds a 32-28 edge in the all-time series against South Carolina with the Gamecocks holding a 13-11 advantage when the two teams meet in Columbia. The two clubs met six times last season, including three meetings in the College World Series, with South Carolina winning four of the six games.
For more information regarding Razorback baseball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Series Schedule (Times Central and Subject to Change) - Columbia, S.C.
Friday, March 22 - 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 23 - 2:15 p.m.
Sunday, March 24 - 12:30 p.m.
Live Game Coverage
Television/Webcast: Friday - CSS/ESPN3; Saturday - FSN/ESPN3; Sunday - GamecocksOnline.com
Radio: Razorback Baseball Radio Network from IMG
Live Stats & Live Blog: ArkansasRazorbacks.com
Probable Pitching Matchups (Arkansas listed first)
Friday (6:30 p.m.)
RHP Barrett Astin (Jr., 1-1, 1.90) vs. RHP Evan Beal (So., 2-0, 0.56)
Saturday (2:15 p.m.)
RHP Ryne Stanek (Jr., 1-1, 3.32) vs. LHP Nolan Belcher (Sr., 4-1, 1.25)
Sunday (12:30 p.m.)
LHP Randall Fant (Sr., 1-0, 1.12) vs. TBA
Arkansas - No. 16 (NCBWA), No. 17 (USA Today Coaches), No. 21 (Baseball America), No. 22 (Perfect Game), No. 28 (Collegiate Baseball)
South Carolina - No. 5 (Baseball America/NCBWA), No. 6 (USA Today Coaches/Collegiate Baseball), No. 7 (Perfect Game)