FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The 4th-ranked Arkansas baseball team is set for its 30th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history this weekend, as it will take on four-seed Oral Roberts in its first game of the Fayetteville Regional at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.
Matchup: No. 1 Arkansas vs. No. 4 Oral Roberts
TV: ESPN3 >> WatchESPNApp
Talent: Doug Sherman (PXP), John Gregory (Analyst)
Radio: Razorback Sports Network from IMG
Probable Starters: (ARK) RHP Blaine Knight (10-0) vs. (ORU) RHP Justin McGregor (6-1)
Along with Summit League champion Oral Roberts, two-seed and C-USA champion Southern Miss as well as three-seed at-large Dallas Baptist make up the regional field with the Razorbacks. This is the second-straight year that Arkansas and Oral Roberts are in the same regional and third time in the last four years. Arkansas hasn’t faced Southern Miss since 1995 and Dallas Baptist since 2005.
Last year, Oral Roberts and Arkansas faced off twice in the 2017 Fayetteville Regional with the Razorbacks winning both the opening and elimination games, 3-0 and 4-3, respectively. The last three meetings between Arkansas and Oral Roberts have come in NCAA Regionals.
Super Regional Matchup
The winner of the Fayetteville Regional will advance to the Super Regional against the winner of the Greenville Regional that features No. 1 East Carolina, No. 2 South Carolina, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 UNC-Wilmington.
Friday’s Probable Starter – RHP Blaine Knight
Junior right-hander Blaine Knight will get the ball for Arkansas’ opening game of the 2018 NCAA Regional. Knight has been the Hogs’ Friday night starter all year and has racked up a 10-0 record with a 2.78 ERA. Last week, the Bryant, Arkansas native beat No. 1 Florida for the second time this year when he sent Arkansas to the SEC Tournament semifinals with a six-inning outing and only one run allowed. He’s currently the only pitcher in the NCAA with a perfect 10-0 record and has thrown less than six innings in his last five starts.
Player to Watch – INF Casey Martin
Razorback third baseman Casey Martin comes into the NCAA Fayetteville Regional as one of the hottest players in the nation. The freshman smacked three homers in last week’s SEC Tournament, leading all players in the field and has now taken over the team lead with 13 home runs this year. His 13 long balls are currently tied for the most by an Arkansas freshman in a single season, tying Zack Cox, who set the record in 2009. Martin has at least one hit in five of his last six games, including three multi-hit games. His .343 batting average currently leads the team and is seventh-highest in the SEC, highest among all freshmen.
2018 NCAA Fayetteville Regional Schedule
Friday, June 1
Saturday, June 2
Game 3 – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 2 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 4 – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Sunday, June 3
Game 5 – Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 2 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 6 – Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 4, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Monday, June 4
Game 7 – Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6 (if necessary), 6:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
RAZORBACK PRIME 9
>> Arkansas is making its 29th appearance over in the NCAA Tournament this weekend and 15th in the last 16 years. This is the seventh time Fayetteville has been selected to host a regional and first in back-to-back years since 2006-2007.
>> The Razorbacks won a share of the SEC Western Division title this year by finishing with an 18-12 conference record. It’s Arkansas’ first division title since 2011 and fourth under Dave Van Horn.
>> Seven different Razorbacks were named to the various All-SEC teams last week, led by freshman Heston Kjerstad, who was named the SEC Freshman of the Year, the first such recipient in school history.
>> Infielder Carson Shaddy was named to the All-SEC First Team, while Eric Cole, Blaine Knight, Casey Martin, and Heston Kjerstad were named to the Second Team. Grant Koch and Dominic Fletcher made up the SEC All-Defensive Team.
>> Martin earned SEC All-Tournament honors after going 4-for-12 (.333) at the plate, including three homers to lead all tournament players.
>> Kjerstad is the third Razorback in school history to win a major conference award (Andrew Benintendi - 2015; Nick Schmidt - 2006).
>> Martin now has 13 home runs on the year, which leads the team and is tied for the most by an Arkansas freshman in a single season (Zack Cox, 2009).
>> With wins over South Carolina and top-seed Florida, the Razorbacks reached the SEC Tournament semifinal for the fourth time in the last six years.
>> Right-hander Blaine Knight has four quality starts in his last five outings and has not gone less than six innings in his last five starts.