Scouting Florida's next opponent: No. 1 Arkansas
Arkansas' streak as the consensus No. 1 team in college baseball reached six weeks Monday, and there appears to be no stopping the Razorbacks as they close in on their first SEC regular-season title since 2004.
The Razorbacks (39-10, 19-8 SEC) are 9-0 in conference series, including 6-0 in deciding third games, after winning two of three at Tennessee over the weekend.
They would join 2013 Vanderbilt as the only teams in conference history to go 10-0 in SEC series if they win at least two of three at home against No. 9 Florida (17-10 SEC, 35-16) this week.
“They show up every day and they play hard and they think they can win,” coach Dave Van Horn said. “Somebody usually steps up and gets it done, whether it's a hitter or a pitcher or somebody who's been struggling all of a sudden has a great game. We don't get too uptight.”
Arkansas went 13-5 in SEC road games, which illustrates a point assistant coach Nate Thompson made to the team about its talent and potential.
“We thrive in different atmospheres and we embrace the challenge,” second baseman and leadoff man Robert Moore said. “Like coach Thompson said, we don’t always have to have everything go our way. We’re better than that. We don’t need all the breaks, we don’t need all the calls, we don’t need the ball to bounce our way all the time because we’re better than that."
Moore, son of Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore, is among five Arkansas players with at least 10 home runs. The Hogs have gone deep 83 times, tied for second most in the nation, and their average of 7.8 runs per game leads the SEC.
They also have one of the best pitchers in the nation in reliever Kevin Kopps, who has an NCAA-best 0.80 ERA in 56 1/3 innings and before Sunday hadn't given up a run in 28 innings since April 17.
Arkansas came out of the weekend with a one-game lead over Tennessee in the overall SEC race and a two-game lead over Mississippi State in the West.
“The only thing we can really control is what we do,” Van Horn said. “We don't play everybody in the East. I want to win the West. We went 15-3 against the West. If we win the overall, that’s awesome, but let’s win the West. We’re right where we want to be, at the top of the standings going into the last week.”
Florida's three-game series against the Razorbacks is from Thursday-Saturday. Game one will air on SEC Network at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, while game two airs on SEC Network at 8 p.m. on Friday. The series finale will stream live on SEC Network+ at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Fans can also tune in on radio via WRUF 850-AM/98.1-FM in Gainesville