Preview: #4 Tennessee at 100% stadium capacity to host #1 Arkansas

A giant top 5 matchup is set to take place on Rocky Top this weekend as the #4 Tennessee Volunteers host the #1 Arkansas Razorbacks. The Razorbacks are the consensus #1 and are seemingly going to cruise into Omaha with ease. The Volunteers on the other hand, have something to prove. Tennessee is a lock for hosting a regional, but they are in the conversation as a likely team to make the trip to Omaha. Tennessee has not been to Omaha since 2005 under coach Rod Delmonico, but saw an early exit with losses to Florida and Arizona State. Now, with head coach Tony Vitello at the helm, the Vols have transformed into an elite squad. One question remains, just how elite?… Tennessee will get their opportunity to prove if they can compete with the best team in college baseball.

Storylines:

  • Tony Vitello squaring off against his mentor Dave Van Horn
  • Tennessee and Arkansas are tied for #1 in the SEC standings at 17-7
  • Tennessee announced 100% capacity for this series (all three games SOLD OUT)
  • Biggest series in Lindsey Nelson Stadium in 20+ years
  • Possible #1 overall ranking at stake
Photo by Tennessee Athletics

Gameday Info:

  • Friday: 6:30pm SECN+
  • Saturday: 12pm SECN
  • Sunday: 1pm SECN+

Arkansas is coming off a series win against the Georgia Bulldogs, taking 2-of-3 games. Arkansas did struggle at times last weekend, having to come from behind on Sunday to take the series. Late game heroics by Matt Gooheart and Christian Franklin put the razorbacks on top heading into the final 2 innings on Sunday. The series was safe with the ball in the hands of Kevin Kopps who closed out the game on the mound for the Hogs. Kopps is the the best closer in college baseball and his stats prove it. Through 49.2 innings of work, Kopps boasts a 0.72 ERA and 83 Strikeouts. Tennessee is know for late game surges, so Kopps will play a huge role for the Hogs this weekend.

Tennessee is returning from Missouri with a series sweep in their pocket. Tennessee got off to a slow start on Friday, trailing Missouri all the way into the 8th inning until Max Ferguson delivered a game winning 2-run HR for the Vols. Tennessee dominated Missouri the rest of the weekend, led by Max Ferguson and Drew Gilbert. The two exploded for a combined 16-26 with 12 RBIs, and 2 HRs on the weekend. On the mound, freshman Blade Tidwell had a career game, pitching 7.0 innings allowing only 1 run on 2 hits, with 5 strikeouts.

All signs point to this weekend being a heavyweight, explosive matchup with major SEC/NCAA tournament seeding implications. Tennessee has been a hostile environment all seasonal only 50% capacity, there is no doubt Lindsey Nelson Stadium will be an unreal environment all weekend to apply the extra pressure on the Hogs. Grab your popcorn and clear your schedules for this one, it will be exciting!

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