Arkansas in Omaha: Which Team Shows Up?

Casey Martin

Arkansas is perhaps the most dangerous offensive team in Omaha. It’s not an offense that relies on one or 2 guys to carry the club.  Their power is well distributed: 4 players are in double digit home runs and 2 others have 8 and 7, respectively.
 
Four lineup regulars were selected in the MLB draft. One through nine can do damage – it’s a lineup with no breaks in it.
 
Arkansas Razorbacks
 
Arkansas’ pitching is solid with maybe the best game-one starter in the country. “Big Game Blaine” Blaine Knight leads the way for the Pigs.  The First Team All-American and 3rd-round pick is 12-0 this year and has beaten the best of the best this season.
 
Kacey Murphy is a strong number 2 and Arkansas’ third starter, Isiah Campbell, has great stuff but has been up and down this year.  These starters aren’t going to get the ‘Backs to the 8th very often. Arkansas depends on Jake Reindl and Barrett Loseke to get the ball to closer Matt Cronin. Cronin leads the group with 12 saves but the pen has combined for 21 this season.
 
This looks like a team that is poised to make a deep run in this tournament.  I only have one legitimate concern:  How will this team play away from Baum Stadium?  The Hogs are 35-4 at home this year and lead the nation in home wins. Arkansas is just 9-15 in road and neutral games – the worst record of all teams in Omaha.
 
In Hoover at the SEC Tournament, WPS hit just .250 while going 2-1. The Razorbacks scored 13 against South Carolina and 8 against Florida before Zach Hess one-hit them through 7 innings. Arkansas had just 3 hits total in that 2-1 loss to LSU. Are the games against the Cocks and Gators enough to convince Dave Van Horn’s team that they can win away from NW Arkansas?
 
For this team to win some games at TD Ameritrade, it comes down to how well they hit away from Baum.  Arkansas hit .329 and scored 8.41 runs a game at home but just .256 and 5.1 runs a game away from Fayetteville. They hit 1.58 home runs per game at home compared to 1.3 away.
 
That is a drastic spread in offensive production.  This could be an issue given that TD Ameritrade Park is a bigger park and a lot more pitcher friendly than Baum. The Razorbacks get Texas in game one on Sunday – a Longhorn team they scored 20 on in 2 midweek games in March just before beginning conference play.
 
 

Towns played baseball for Houston in the mid-90’s. He is most famous for walking 9 LSU batters in just 3 innings.

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