You can thank Mother Nature for the opening game of the Arkansas vs LSU series being moved up, but she can’t be blamed for it starting out with a streaming-only option.
With inclement weather expected to hit Baton Rouge, Game 1 between the No. 1 Tigers and visiting No. 4 Razorbacks will now begin at noon CT Friday rather than the originally scheduled 7 p.m. first pitch.
Instead of a national ESPN2 audience, the game has been relegated to the SEC Network and the first 30 minutes or so will be available only via streaming on SEC Network-Plus.
The late start on linear television is because Kentucky’s Pro Day, which starts at 10:30 a.m. and will last two hours, is already scheduled to be aired live. That means the SEC Network will be televising potential top-5 pick Will Levis wearing shorts and throwing routes on air instead of potential top-5 pick Paul Skenes facing the toughest lineup he’s seen this year for the first time.
(Of course, ESPN2 can’t still carry the game because that’d require preempting shows such as First Take, This Just In, NBA Today and, possibly, NFL Live — and that simply cannot happen.)
That said, in today’s world, the streaming option isn’t hard to figure out because that’s how most people consume television anyways. It’s a whole lot better than the pre-SEC Network days, when very few regular-season college baseball games were available to watch in any more.
For those unable, or unwilling, to watch the first Arkansas vs LSU game, though, Best of Arkansas Sports will be tuned in and proving live inning-by-inning updates below…
LIVE UPDATES — Arkansas vs LSU (Game 1)
The pitching matchup Friday afternoon features a pair of top-100 draft prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. LSU’s Paul Skenes is by far the bigger name, as he’s been arguably the best pitcher in college baseball so far this year and checks in at No. 4 on the prospect list, but Arkansas’ Hunter Hollan is no slouch at No. 81.
Skenes’ numbers through five starts look like they come from a video game. He’s 5-0 with a 0.59 ERA and 0.53 WHIP, plus has 59 strikeouts to just four walks in 30 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting only .115 against him, as well.
Hollan is making his second Friday start of the year and has a 2.36 ERA with 24 strikeouts and nine walks in 26 2/3 innings.
Another player to watch for the Tigers is Dylan Crews, as the potential No. 1 overall pick is hitting .515/.656/.926 through 21 games.
Game 3 of the series has been moved up to 6:30 p.m. CT Saturday as part of a day-night doubleheader because of expected inclement weather in Baton Rouge on Sunday. It be streamed on SEC Network-Plus after Game 2, which starts at 1 p.m. and is on the SEC Network.
T-1st: Arkansas 0, LSU 0
Skenes was dominant in the first inning. Josenberger took a couple of 100 mph fastballs for strikes before popping out to left. Stovall struck out on a 102 mph fastball. He also touched 101 mph during Wegner’s at bat before getting him to fly out to center. It was a nine-pitch inning and about half of them touched triple digits. All were strikes.
B-1st: Arkansas 0, LSU 0
Pearson flied out to left to left to start the home half of the inning before Crews hit a ball down the third base line and Coll couldn’t field it cleanly, allowing him to reach. It was ruled an infield single, extending his hitting streak to 20 games. White followed with a chopper up the middle and Hollan got the force at second, but Stovall’s throw to first wasn’t in time to complete the double play. Dugas popped out to first to end the inning. Even though only one batter reached, LSU got Hollan’s pitch count up to 22.
T-2nd: Arkansas 0, LSU 0
Slavens saw nothing but 99 or 100 mph fastballs during his at bat and eventually flied out to shallow left, where the ball was caught by the shortstop. Bohrofen looked at a 99 mph strike at the knees for strike three. Diggs got back-to-back changeups to start his at bat, but eventually swung through a 99 mph pitch to also go down on strikes. Skenes needed 13 pitches this inning.
B-2nd: Arkansas 0, LSU 0
Morgan flied out to left to start the inning and then Jones chased a pitch up in the zone for Hollan’s first strikeout of the day. Jobert popped out on the infield on the first pitch he saw, giving Hollan a much-needed quick out. That ended a nine-pitch inning, increasing his pitch count to 31.
T-3rd: Arkansas 0, LSU 0
Coll smashed the first pitch he saw, but it was a line drive right to the third baseman. Skenes broke out the slider and changeup against Rowland, setting him up for a swing and miss on a 99 mph fastball for his fourth strikeout of the day. Then he froze Bolton on an off speed pitch for strikeout No. 5. He’s retired all nine Razorbacks he’s faced on 31 total pitches.
B-3rd: Arkansas 0, LSU 0
Hollan issued a leadoff walk to Thompson, but then got a first-pitch fly out to shallow left by Neal. Pearson fouled off several pitches before chasing a breaking ball out of the zone for a strikeout. Then, in perhaps his best at bat of the day, Hollan struck out Crews – a potential No. 1 overall pick – on three pitches. He’s dealing, too, but the biggest difference is that LSU has fouled off a lot of pitches and managed to get on base a couple of times, driving his pitch count up to 47.
T-4th: Arkansas 1, LSU 0
After taking a couple of strikes, Josenberger turned on a pitch and drove it to right. It one-hopped the wall for a leadoff double, just the third extra-base hit Skenes has allowed this season. The first pitch to Stovall was wild, allowing Josenberger to move to third. That set up a sacrifice fly to left by Stovall. It’s just the third run Skenes has allowed this year.
Wegner struck out looking at a breaking ball at the knees – a perfect pitch by Skenes. Slavens put together a solid at bat, working the count full, but ultimately went down swinging for Skenes’ seventh strikeout of the day. The Razorbacks actually made him work some there, as he threw 19 pitches to bring his pitch count to 50.
B-4th: Arkansas 1, LSU 0
White struck out on three pitches, chasing a pitch in the dirt, to start the home half of the fourth. Dugas flied out to right on the second pitch he saw. Hollan got ahead 0-2 against Morgan, but he fouled off some pitches and worked it full before driving a pitch to deep center. Josenberger nearly tracked it down, but it went off the top of the wall for a stand-up triple. It looked like LSU would tie it up on a wild pitch, but Morgan hesitated and Rowland got the ball back to Hollan in time to easily make the tag. Hollan is up to 65 pitches.
T-5th: Arkansas 1, LSU 0
Skenes froze Bohrofen on a breaking ball for his eighth strikeout. Diggs made some solid contact, but his fly ball was rather easily caught by the left fielder a few feet in front of the track. Coll chased a pitch for the ninth strikeout of the day for Skenes, who’s up to 61 pitches.
B-5th: Arkansas 1, LSU 0
Given a fresh count to start the fifth, Jones popped up on the infield and Stovall caught it behind the mound. Jobert worked the count full, fouled off a pitch and then took strike three on a breaking ball that hit the corner. Thompson couldn’t check his swing on a pitch high in the zone and he is strikeout No. 6 for Hollan, who is now up to 80 pitches.
T-6th: Arkansas 1, LSU 0
Rowland whiffs at an 84 mph breaking ball for the 10th strikeout of the day for Skenes, who has now struck out everyone except Josenberger at least once. Bolton worked the count full and fouled off a pitch before drawing a walk – just the fifth Skenes has issued this season. Josenberger also worked the count full and drew a walk, prompting a visit from pitching coach Wes Johnson.
Stovall grounded out to second, but the runners moved up to second and third. Wegner also walked in a full count to load the bases, bringing up Slavens. He fouled off a couple of two-strike pitches before looking at a 99 mph fastball that caught the inner edge of the strike zone. They came up empty, but the Razorbacks made Skenes throw 33 pitches, so he’s suddenly up to 94 for the game.
B-6th: Arkansas 1, LSU 0
Neal, the 9-hole, leads off the inning with a line drive to right for a single. Hagen Smith is beginning to warm up in the bullpen. Hollan struck out Pearson, with Rowland hanging on to a foul tip. It’s his seventh strikeout and the last batter he’ll face. With Crews coming up, Van Horn makes the move to bring in Smith.
Smith promptly got ahead 0-2 against Crews and got him to strike out on a check swing in a 2-2 count. That brought up White, who also fell behind 0-2 and struck out on the fourth pitch he saw.
T-7th: Arkansas 1, LSU 0
Despite throwing 33 pitches in the sixth and 94 for the game, Skenes is back on the mound for LSU. Bohrofen led off with a bloop single that fell just in front of a charging center fielder, prompting another mound visit. Diggs followed with a fly out to center. Coll went down swinging and Bohrofen was caught trying to steal second on an inning-ending strike ’em out, throw ’em out. Skenes needed that, as it ends the inning after just 11 pitches, bringing him to 105 for the game.
B-7th: Arkansas 1, LSU 0
Smith’s first pitch of the seventh plunks Dugas, giving LSU another leadoff base runner. Morgan followed with a fly out to left and Jones struck out on three pitches. With two outs, Jobert poked a single into right. That puts the tying run in scoring position and go-ahead run on base. Before Thompson had a chance to do anything, Rowland threw behind Jobert and picked him off at first to end the inning.
T-8th: Arkansas 1, LSU 0
LSU finally makes a pitching change in the eighth, bringing in freshman right-hander Chase Shores, who stands 6-foot-8. He comes out throwing 98-99 mph. Rowland did a nice job of battling before flying out to left on the ninth pitch of the at bat. Bolton also worked the count full and fouled off a pitch before striking out on a 100 mph fastball. Yet again, Josenberger worked the count full and fouled off a pitch before looking at strike three. Even though it was a 1-2-3 inning for Shores, he needed 23 pitches.
B-8th: LSU 1, Arkansas 1
Thompson flied out to center on the first pitch of the eighth. However, Neal – the 9-hold – followed with an opposite-field homer to tie it up at 1-1. Pearson then ripped a single into right, prompting a mound visit from Matt Hobbs. Crews hit a slow chopper toward short, but he beat the throw to first for an infield single. White popped out in foul territory, with Slavens tracking it down for the second out.
However, Smith walked Dugas to load the bases. That brought up Morgan, who popped up in foul territory. Coll tracked it down for the final out, keeping the game tied.
T-9th: LSU 1, Arkansas 1
Stovall leads off the ninth with a single to left-center. Wegner then flied out to right and Slavens flied out to left. Bohrofen then got caught looking to end the inning, sending the game to the bottom of the ninth with the score still tied.
B-9th: LSU 1, Arkansas 1
Smith opens the ninth with a strikeout of Jones, who couldn’t check his swing on strike three. Jobert struck out on a foul tip caught by Rowland. Smith ended up striking out the side on 12 pitches, as Thompson also went down swinging. This game is going to extras.
T-10th: Arkansas 9, LSU 1
Diggs draws a leadoff walk for the Razorbacks. That prompts a pitching change. The new pitcher for LSU is right-hander Christian Little. Coll does his job, hitting a slow roller to third for what essentially served as a sac bunt, as it moved Diggs into scoring position. Rowland followed with a four-pitch walk, leading to a mound visit. Arkansas will pinch hit for Bolton, bringing in freshman Reese Robinett.
Big Country, as he’s nicknamed on the team, delivered. His first career SEC at bat is a pinch-hit, 10th-inning, three-run home run to break a 1-1 tie at No. 1 LSU. It cleared the wall in left-center.
Josenberger followed with a single and then Stovall hit a sharp grounder the deflected off a diving second baseman for a hit. It bounced away enough that Josenberger took third on the play. Stovall also took second because LSU tried throwing to third. That was it for Little.
The new pitcher for LSU is right-hander Will Hellmers. He walked Wegner on four pitches to load the bases. Slavens followed with a solid line drive to right center that was deep enough to bring in Josenberger. The sacrifice fly makes it 5-1. Bohrofen is hit by a pitch to load the bases again.
Diggs – who started the inning with a walk – absolutely crushed a 1-2 pitch for a no-doubt grand slam to make it 9-1. The inning finally ended when Coll flied out to right.
B-10th: Arkansas 9, LSU 3
Caleb Cali enters the game as a defensive replacement. He goes to third, as Coll shifts over to short to fill Bolton’s spot. Smith is back on the mound to try to close it out. He struck out Neal before issuing a one-out walk to Pearson. Crews followed with a no-doubt two-run homer to dead center, cutting the lead to 9-3.
Smith bounced back by striking out White, but then walked Dugas. That prompted a mound visit by Hobbs. Morgan then flied out to right to secure the victory.
FINAL – Arkansas 9, LSU 3
BOX SCORE – Arkansas vs LSU
Starting Lineups — Arkansas vs LSU (Game 1)
|LSU Baseball||Arkansas Baseball|
|1. Josh Pearson – RF||1. Tavian Josenberger – CF|
|2. Dylan Crews – CF||2. Peyton Stovall – 2B|
|3. Tommy White – 3B||3. Jared Wegner – LF|
|4. Gavin Dugas – 2B||4. Brady Slavens – 1B|
|5. Tre’ Morgan – 1B||5. Jace Bohrofen – RF|
|6. Jared Jones – DH||6. Kendall Diggs – DH|
|7. Brayden Jobert – LF||7. Harold Coll – 3B|
|8. Jordan Thompson – SS||8. Parker Rowland – C|
|9. Brady Neal – C||9. John Bolton – SS|
|Pitching: Jr. RHP Paul Skenes||Pitching: Jr. LHP Hunter Hollan|
Baseball Schedule This Week
Tuesday — Arkansas 12, SEMO 2 (7 innings)
Friday — at LSU — Noon CT (SECN+/SEC Network)
Saturday — at LSU — 1 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
Saturday — at LSU — 6:30 p.m. CT (SECN+)
Accountability Check — 2023 Arkansas Baseball Predictions
Best of Arkansas Sports managing editor Andrew Hutchinson published his week-by-week predictions for the 2023 season just before the Razorbacks opened the year at the College Baseball Showdown. Those predictions can be read in full here, but we’ll also be doing weekly “accountability checks” in this space.
Prediction: 1-0 in the midweek / 17-4 overall, 3-0 in SEC play
Yet another mid-major program picked to win its conference, Southeast Missouri State will be more of a challenge than some fans may expect, but fresh off a sweep of Auburn, the Razorbacks will be rolling. They could get caught looking ahead to LSU, but I believe it’ll be a quality non-conference win.
Actual: 1-0 in the midweek / 19-2 overall, 3-0 in SEC play
The Razorbacks were looking ahead to LSU, but Dave Van Horn caught wind of it early in the day Tuesday and responded by playing almost strictly reserves. The result was a 2-1 game through 5.5 innings before Arkansas blew it open with a 10-run sixth inning and won via the run rule.
More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS…