The Arkansas Razorbacks (23-7, 8-4 SEC) saw their streak of 13 consecutive conference series wins get snapped on Saturday. Heading into this series, Arkansas had not lost an SEC series since 2019, which came against Texas A&M. Arkansas took the first game on Thursday 8-1 behind a masterful performance from their ace pitcher Connor Noland. Things seemed to be shaping up well for the Hogs heading into Friday’s matchup. However, Florida (21-11, 5-7 SEC) flipped the script and dominated the game from start to finish. The Gators would win 7-2 and even up the series. Heading into Saturday’s rubber match, despite all the momentum being on Florida’s side, Arkansas was a team that was used to winning a best of three series. Not only that, Florida was deep in their bullpen after using so many arms on Thursday. Jaxon Wiggins would get the start for Arkansas on Saturday, a hard-throwing right-hander who tends to get knocked around at times. However, it still looked good for the Hogs. So we thought. In-game three, Florida proved that Friday’s game was no fluke and their bats got going first putting up four runs in the third inning. Arkansas would immediately respond with a four-run inning of their own in the following inning. Three of those runs were courtesy of a three-run double down the right-field line by Zack Gregory and the game was tied 4-4. Florida would respond right back with a three-run inning in the bottom of the 5th making the score 7-4. In a game that felt like a heavyweight fight, Arkansas scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning. Arkansas would tie the game up in the eighth inning thanks to a blast off the bat of Zack Gregory that easily cleared the right-field fence. The trend would continue and Florida would immediately respond when they came up to bat. The go-ahead and eventual winning run would score on a sacrifice fly that came because of a throwing error by Freshman pitcher Brady Tygart that allowed the runner to reach second base. The Gators would tack on another run in the inning. Arkansas would go down quietly in the 9th inning and Florida held on to win 9-7.
My takeaways from the game:
- It was only a matter of time. Arkansas was not going to win every series they played in for too much longer, considering how tough the conference is.
- Florida played like a team that knew they needed to win to stay afloat in the SEC and right the ship.
- I am sure I am stating the obvious but Arkansas has found their ace in Noland. However, Hagen Smith and Jaxon Wiggins are still shaky. If Arkansas can get their pitching figured out they can be a really dangerous team.
- Don’t overreact Arkansas fans. Losing a series in the SEC is something you aren’t used to as of late so it might feel like the sky is falling. It’s not. Arkansas is a good team and it’s hard to win a series on the road in the SEC. Especially in Florida.
- Arkansas will need to have a strong showing coming up against LSU to keep some distance in the west and not fall toward the middle of the pack. They will play a three-game series at Baum Walker Stadium starting on Thursday.
Arkansas will play two seven-inning games against the UAPB Golden Lions on Tuesday starting at 3 pm. This will be the third of four in-state schools Arkansas is scheduled to play this year. I expect UAPB to give it their best shot but it ultimately won’t be enough to beat Arkansas. This will be a good opportunity for the bullpen to get some work and sharpen up for the LSU series. I expect Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn to limit his pitchers to minimal innings.