Auburn baseball heads to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to compete in a three-game series against Arkansas in the Tigers' first SEC matchup of the season.
“It'll be great,” said head coach Butch Thompson. “Getting back into our league, this is all what we love to do and it's an exciting time of the year, especially when more than half of your team is new.”
The Razorbacks hold a 51-49 lead in the series against Auburn, defeating the Tigers three out of four times last season; including a dominating 11-1 victory to eliminate Auburn from the College World Series. Arkansas holds a 26-19 record against the Tigers when playing at home.
“This team finished our season last year in Omaha,” Thompson said. “It'll be good to hook it back up with them and compete.”
Auburn (13-3-1) won a thrilling extra-inning game 12-11 against long-time rival Georgia Tech in Plainsman Park Tuesday night. The Tigers ripped the cover off the ball, earning 12 runs on 20 hits. Senior Justin Kirby led the charge, going 4-for-6 with a home run, double and three RBIs. West Georgia transfer Brody Wortham pinch hit in the bottom of the 12th, hitting a game-winning RBI single to right field.
No. 6 Arkansas (13-1) is on a 10-game win streak, recently defeating UNLV in a two-game series, 13-7 and 5-2. The Razorbacks started the season on a positive note, defeating No. 9 Oklahoma State and Texas in the College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas, combining for 21 runs while only allowing three runs in that two-game span.
Arkansas is dangerous on offense, providing six players with a batting average over .300. Right fielder Jace Bohrofen leads the team in that category, hitting .436 on the year; good for 46th in the country. Jared Wegner leads the team with eight home runs, and Tavian Josenberger is the Razorbacks resident speed demon, leading the team with five stolen bases.
Sophomore Hagen Smith emerged as a prominent pitcher last year for the Arkansas, being named to the Freshman All-SEC team. Smith is leading the team in ERA and strikeouts this season, producing a 1.40 ERA and 28 strikeouts. Hunter Hollan isn’t trailing Smith by much, producing a 2.18 ERA and 21 strikeouts, respectively.
Friday, Auburn is projected to start LHP Tommy Vail on the mound. Vail is 2-0 this season with a 0.63 ERA. Vail started against Georgia Tech Tuesday, giving up one run on one hit in one inning pitched. Arkansas is projected to start LHP Hollan. Hollan is 3-0 this season with a 2.18 ERA.
Saturday, Auburn is projected to start LHP Zach Crotchfelt. Crotchfelt is 0-0 this season with a 4.41 ERA. Arkansas is projected to start RHP Will McEntire. McEntire is 3-0 this season with a 3.48 ERA.
Auburn and Arkansas have yet to announce the Sunday starters.
The first pitch between Auburn and Arkansas at Baum-Walker Stadium is set for 4 p.m. CST on SEC Network+.
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Donavan Weaver is a senior at Auburn, majoring in journalism. He is from Brewton, Ala. and started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.