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No. 4 Vols host top-ranked Razorbacks in battle between SEC’s best

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.
Tennessee baseball
Tennessee baseball(Tennessee Athletic Communications)
Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 2:57 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - 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.

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 sides met in Knoxville, they split a doubleheader on a rain-soaked weekend in 2017.

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.

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.

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.

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