FAYETTEVILLE -- The No. 12 Arkansas Razorbacks were forced to wait a day to open the baseball season after rain and near-freezing temperatures postponed Friday's 3 p.m. season opener against Eastern Illinois.
The two teams are scheduled to play two nine-inning games today at Baum-Walker Stadium, starting with a first pitch at noon.
Arkansas junior Isaiah Campbell (5-7, 4.26 ERA) is set to face off against 6-5 senior Tyler Jones (7-3, 3.52) in the opener of the three-game series, which will feature all right-handed starters. Freshman Connor Noland is expected to match up against junior Michael YaSenka (3-3, 8.14) in today's second game, which will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
Tickets for Saturday's game will apply to both games of the doubleheader, while tickets for Friday's game can be exchanged for another Arkansas home game. Contact the Razorback Ticket Center at 1-800-982-4647 for more information.
The last time the Razorbacks played a doubleheader to open the season came in 2009. The University of Arkansas swept Washington State that day with a 4-2 victory in Game 1 and a 7-5 win in 10 innings in Game 2.
After an overnight low projected at 23 degrees, temperatures are expected to warm to a high of 44 today.
Eastern Illinois Coach Jason Anderson thinks the Panthers should be a stronger team, despite losing most of the position players from a 23-31 club that finished eighth in the 11-team Ohio Valley Conference.
"We lost a lot of kids from last year, a lot of talented guys who set records at EIU," Anderson said. "What we have now, I think, is a better baseball team. It's a better mix of upperclassmen and young guys that can score more runs and will be a deeper pitching staff and play a little better defense. It's a mixed bag right now, and that's why we're going to take these first couple of weeks to figure out what kind of baseball team we're going to be.
Outfielder Dominic Fletcher thinks the Razorbacks will steal more bases and have more team speed this season after banging out a school-record 98 home runs in 2018.
"We have a ton [of speed], I feel like," Fletcher said. "The freshmen are all really quick and fast, and then the transfers also, [Trevor] Ezell and [Matt] Goodheart, can both run. And then, of course, we have Marty [Casey Martin] still from last year. So I think we have a ton of team speed, and you're going to see us use it a lot more."
Eastern Illinois Coach Jason Anderson thinks he has the kind of squad that can handle a road venue like Baum-Walker Stadium against an Arkansas team coming off an appearance in the College World Series finals.
"In past years with the program, this is something we'd probably be over-excited about, going down and playing Arkansas, which was in the championship game last year and has a great atmosphere down there," Anderson said. "But I think we've got a different mentality with this group. We've advanced the program to where we just want to go down and play good baseball and advance this baseball team. We're definitely excited about it, but it's a little more businesslike than giddiness this year."
Sports on 02/16/2019
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