Baseball Preview: #4 Vols Host Top-Ranked Razorbacks in Battle Between SEC’s Best

Vols SS Liam Spence / Credit: UT Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – In one of the most highly-anticipated series of the season, No. 4 Tennessee hosts No. 1 Arkansas this weekend at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

First pitch for the series opener is slated for 6:32 p.m. on Friday night. The Vols and Razorbacks enter the series leading their respective divisions and tied for first overall in the SEC with identical 17-7 league records.

GAMEDAY INFORMATION

Relying on the expertise of public health authorities, the state of Tennessee, appropriate university and government agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are implementing a number of new initiatives at Tennessee Baseball gamedays this spring. The well-being of our student-athletes, fans and staff are our top priorities and guide our decisions. Exposure to COVID-19 is an inherent risk in any public location where people are present; we cannot guarantee you will not be exposed during your visit.

The Southeastern Conference in August released several conference-wide fan health and safety guidelines for all member institutions this fall. The Tennessee-specific measures outlined on this page are in line with, and in addition to, the SEC’s guidelines.

Parking
Baseball parking is located primarily in Lots GF1, G16, and C1.

Additional on-street parking is located in C10 along Todd Helton Dr. and Chamique Holdsclaw Dr. and along West Volunteer Blvd.

Handicap parking is located in marked handicap spaces on Pat Head Summitt St. and in the G16 Volunteer Blvd. garage.  The 2021 parking map can be seen HERE (PDF).

For more information and gameday info, visit the Tennessee Baseball Gameday Information page by clicking HERE.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets for this weekend’s series are SOLD OUT, but an extremely limited number of tickets will be available for purchase at the Lindsey Nelson Stadium ticket office 90 minutes prior to each game.

Single-game tickets can also be purchased through Vivid Seats by clicking HERE.

Tickets for next Tuesday’s regular-season home finale against Belmont may be purchased by calling the Tennessee Athletic ticket office at 865-656-1200 or online at AllVols.com.

In order to keep Lindsey Nelson Stadium as full as possible, we are encouraging season ticket holders who are unable to use their tickets for a game(s) to either transfer your tickets to someone else (Instructions HERE), sell them on VividSeats (Information available at UTSports.com/cantmakethegame) or participate in our new Seats for Student program (Instructions HERE).

BROADCAST INFO

Friday and Sunday’s games will be streamed live on SEC Network+ and the ESPN app as Bob Kesling (PxP) and Rusty Ensor (color) call the action. Saturday’s contest will be televised on the SEC Network with Clay Matvick (PxP) and Chris Burke (color) on the call.

Fans can also listen to the official Vol Network radio call for all three games on Sports Radio WNML (FM 99.1 / AM 990), as well as UTSports.com and the UT Gameday app. John Wilkerson and Vince Ferrara will call the action.

PROJECTED STARTING PITCHERS

Game 1: RHP Chad Dallas (8-1) vs. LHP Patrick Wicklander (4-1)
Game 2: LHP Will Heflin (2-2) vs. RHP Peyton Pallette (1-2)
Game 3: RHP Blade Tidwell (6-2) vs. TBD

SERIES HISTORY

Overall: Arkansas leads, 36-27
In Knoxville: Tennessee leads, 14-13
In Fayetteville: Arkansas leads, 20-12
Neutral Sites: Arkansas leads, 3-1
Last Meeting: L, 4-3 in 10 Inn. (April 28, 2019)

In the only other meeting between the two teams in the Vitello Era, Arkansas swept Tennessee in Fayetteville in 2019. The last time the two programs met in Knoxville, they split a doubleheader on a rain-soaked weekend in 2017.

NOTABLE

Battle Between SEC’s Best
Tennessee and Arkansas come into this weekend’s highly anticipated series tied atop the SEC standings at 17-7. Both teams lead their respective divisions and are ranked inside the top five nationally.

This will be the third series pitting top-10 teams against each other at Lindsey Nelson Stadium this season. No. 4 Tennessee won its series against No. 9 Florida before the third-ranked Vols lost their only series of the season to No. 2 Vanderbilt a week later.

Spence Has Been Sensational
Liam Spence is having an All-America caliber season and could be in the running for SEC Player of the Year. The Australian is batting .404 in conference play and leads the league in on-base percentage (.558) and walks (29) in SEC games. He also ranks among the top five in the SEC in runs scored (3rd – 26) and hits (4th – 36). Spence has reached base in 49 straight games played dating back to last season, which is the longest active streak among NCAA Division I players. The senior shortstop also has a 10-game hit streak entering Friday’s contest.

Firing on All Cylinders
The Vols bats have been red hot over the past few weeks. The Big Orange have scored double-digit runs in five of their last seven SEC games after scoring 11 and 10 in wins over Missouri on Saturday and Sunday last weekend. UT has homered in 11 consecutive conference games and ranks among the top three in the league in batting average, hits, runs scored, doubles, home runs, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, walks and total bases.

SEC Benchmarks
After completing a series sweep at Missouri last Sunday, the Vols now sit at 17-7 in conference play, their best SEC record through 24 games since also going 17-7 in 1995. Tennessee has secured a winning record in league play for the first time since 2005 and has also recorded its most wins in SEC play since going 18-11 during that same season. UT has also won its first four SEC road series this year for the first time since 1994.

OPPONENT SCOUT

Arkansas Razorbacks

  • 2021 Record: 37-9 (17-7 SEC)
  • Rankings: No. 1 (All Polls)
  • 2019 Postseason: College World Series (0-2)
  •  Head Coach: Dave Van Horn (19th season) // Has led Arkansas to six College World Serie appearances.
  • Predicted SEC Finish: 3rd (Western Division)
  • Preseason All-SEC Selections:
    • Casey Opitz (1st Team – C)
    • Robert Moore (1st Team – 2B)
    • Christian Franklin (1st Team – OF)
    • Matt Goodheart (1st Team – DH/UTL)
  • Stat Leaders:
    • Batting Avg: Matt Goodheart (.310)
    • Runs: Robert Moore/Christian Franklin (44)
    • Hits: Cayden Wallace (53)
    • Home Runs: Matt Goodheart (10)
    • RBI: Brady Slavens (52)
    • Stolen Bases: Christian Franklin (8-11)
    • Wins: Kevin Kopps (7-0)
    • ERA (min. 15.0 IP): Kevin Kopps (0.72)
    • Innings Pitched: Patrick Wicklander (53.1)
    • Strikeouts: Kevin Kopps (83)
  • Notable: Only team in the SEC to win all eight of its conference series this season.

GAME PROMOTIONS

This weekend’s series will feature a number of exciting promotions and fan festivities, including a free shirseys and a pig roast on Friday night and the first ever Checker LNS for Saturday’s game. Sunday will be Senior Day for eight of Tennessee’s players with a pregame ceremony scheduled to begin at approximately 12:30 p.m. For all the details on this weekend’s promotions, click HERE.

Upcoming promotions for all Tennessee athletics home events can be found on the UT Fan Experience page by clicking HERE.

Fans are encouraged to download the My All App for their phones and devices this season. The app is available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store and will allow fans to participate in in-game trivia, the custom filter selfie cam and more throughout the year.

ON DECK

The Vols take on in-state foe Belmont next Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. in their final regular-season home game before a trip to South Carolina to finish the regular season next Thursday-Saturday in Columbia.

-UT Athletics

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