We discussed the other day about Arkansas being one of the worst hitting teams in the conference. Well, in response to Poseur's theory about everyone at this stage being either very good or very hot, here is a list of the runs scored by Arkansas in each of their games since the NCAA tournament began: 10, 17, 11, 7, 9, 10. That is some mighty fine hitting lately. This team has simply caught fire offensively in the postseason.
We criticized Cal State Fullerton for holding their ace back, but it's not like they were pitching a slouch. Noe Ramirez entered the game with an ERA of 2.86, which is lower than Anthony Ranaudo's, though with a different level of competition. Arkansas just lit him up. Whatever problems they were having in the last few weeks of the regular season are completely turned around and this is now a terrific offensive team.
Which is why it's great to have Louis Coleman on the mound. No offense to Anthony Ranaudo, who has a more electric arm, but Louis Coleman's been our best pitcher all year. I feel good every time he's on the mound, and he dominated Arkansas hitters in the regular season.
Now let's get to that Arkansas pitching. Here are the runs given up by Arkansas in the same 6-game span in which they scored so many runs: 3, 6, 0, 2, 8, 6. Pretty good. Here's the number of runs LSU has given up: 2, 2, 3, 9, 3, 5. They're very similar.
If you look back at Arkansas' track record in the NCAA tournament, they have pitched Dallas Keuchel in the first game of each series, as they did on Friday as well. In the second game of the regional and of the super regional, they pitched Brett Eibner, a righty with pretty modest statistics who usually does not go far in games. In 16 starts, he has only 70 innings pitched. He averages less than 5 innings per start, and that's pretty poor actually. In his last outing, he went 4.2 innings and gave up 5 earned runs to Florida State. The time before that, he went 5.2 innings and gave up 5 earned runs to Oklahoma.
Arkansas could throw us a changeup and go with their third starter, the lefty Drew Smyly, who was their 3rd starter in the regional and threw 8.1 innings of 1-hit shutout baseball. Traditionally, we've been poor against lefties this year, but there is reason to believe this may be turning around. We didn't score a ton of runs on Danny Hultzen, but we hit him enough to make the UVA coach pull him after 3 innings. We knocked Taylor Wall of Rice out of the game in less than an inning of relief. Other than that, we haven't really seen very many lefties these days.
If I was the Arkansas coach, I would go with Smyly and make us prove we can hit lefties. That, and I'd hope he can push us around like he did with Oklahoma in the regional.
Watch out for hitters Andy Wilkins (over .600 slugging percentage), Ben Tschepikow, Zach Cox, and Brett Eibner (yes, the pitcher). These guys have been hitting. Eibner's statistics aren't very good, but he had an early-season slump that made Blake Dean's look mild. He's been hitting lately. It should be a very fun game.