Tyson’s Trolling Part of Big Pig Invasion ahead of Arkansas vs Kentucky

Arkansas baseball, Kentucky baseball, Arkansas vs Kentucky
photo credit: Kentucky Athletics / Arkansas Athletics

What’s good for the pig, is good for the drove. Assuming the goose/gander logic applies, that should be the phrase, right? May as well be, especially in Arkansas, a state that is all Razorbacks all the time.

Up near the University of Arkansas, home to those Hogs, three Fortune 500 companies exist on about a 12-mile stretch of road. One of those companies, Tyson Foods, makes pork products, though that’s incidental. More importantly to the pig theme, its CEO, John Tyson, played matchmaker for his friend John Calipari and the UA.

Since that fateful phone call some three weeks or so ago, the amperage for the Arkansas vs Kentucky rivalry – which is renewed on the baseball diamond this weekend – has escalated to heights not seen since the mid-1990s when the two schools were battling it out for SEC supremacy on the college basketball court. Back when college basketball really mattered, that is.

Tyson himself is having some fun with it as the company’s newly-opened plant in Bowling Green, Kent., has provided an opportunity for Tyson himself to have a pulse on Kentucky sports talk radio. Which, as you can imagine, has handled things perfectly normally.

“We sent them some product,” Tyson told Hogs+. “We sent them some Tyson food, t-shirts. The folks up there, there’s been some little back and forth laughing and giggling and stuff.”

It’s hardly limited to Tyson. The national media has gotten ahold of the rekindled rivalry and capitalized on it, too. Aaron Torres, who used to be a real journalist, but now sells catchphrase’d merchandise on his YouTube channel in addition to hosting FoxSports Radio gigs, has been tempting Arkansas fans with a “Big Pig Invasion” t-shirt for a while. At least now it’s fitting. Sure, it’s referencing a very real ecological issue, but, hey, if you can make $25 a pop on it, why not, right? Rubes live forever, but opportunities to exploit them don’t. 

“We sent (Kentucky radio personalities) some Dino Nuggets with some swag and stuff,” Tyson said. “So we had fun that way with the different talk shows around.”

Dino Nuggets? If you can bring your kid-friendly snack back to the forefront of the cultural landscape even for a moment via product-placement on a subscription-only self-congratulatory university-branded TV-esque show then you gotta do it. 

Capitalism, baby!

Anyway, let them eat cake. At least the sports will have some legitimate pizzazz for the next little while. Basketball remains the sport in Lexington, so every time Calipari heads back to Rupp Arena, expect fireworks. Probably expect the same at Bud Walton, too. Football, well, Kentucky is the superior program in the last decade no doubt, but neither school is rolling in the riches in the upper echelon of the SEC in that sport. 

Thankfully, there’s baseball, where the No. 2 Diamond Hogs will take on the SEC East-leading Wildcats for a three-game set on the weekend. The winner will wrest total control of the league with just two series left.

Setting the over/under on the number Calipari and/or Tyson name drops on the SEC Network+ broadcasts to eight for the series. Any takers?

(READ NEXT: Analysis from a former Arkansas baseball player on what the Hogs need to shore up down the stretch)

LIVE UPDATES – Arkansas vs Kentucky (Game 1)

Pregame Tidbits

The Wildcats are starting right-hander Trey Pooser, who is 3-0 with a 3.75 ERA and 1.17 WHIP to go along with 48 strikeouts in 48 innings. Opponents are hitting just .218 against him, but the splits are dramatic – .152 by lefties and .270 by righties. All five home runs he’s allowed have been hit by right-handed batters.

T-1st: Arkansas 0, Kentucky 0

The Razorbacks couldn’t do anything with a leadoff single by Stovall. He eventually moved to second on a ground out by Aloy, but he was stranded there when McLaughlin flied out to deep right.

B-1st: Arkansas 0, Kentucky 0

Hagen Smith got a couple of quick outs before Grant Smith put together a lengthy at bat. He eventually swung and missed at the 10th pitch, but did a good job of fouling off pitches to at least make Smith work. It was a 15-pitch frame.

T-2nd: Arkansas 0, Kentucky 0

An infield single by Holt and walk by Helfrick – after a great at bat – put the first two runners on base, but Arkansas once again came up empty. Diggs struck out, White grounded into a fielder’s choice that put runners on the corners and then Wilmsmeyer grounded into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

B-2nd: Arkansas 0, Kentucky 0

Three up, three down, three strikeouts for Hagen Smith in the second. He’s up to 29 total pitches.

T-3rd: Arkansas 0, Kentucky 0

Arkansas went 1-2-3 in the third, but Stovall was robbed of a hit by a great play by the second baseman and Aloy flied out to just shy of the track in left. Still, it was a 9-pitch inning for Pooser, who’s thrown 51 pitches through three innings.

B-3rd: Kentucky 1, Arkansas 0

Kentucky’s first base runner came via a two-out infield single by the 9-hole hitter, Burkes. Arkansas had him picked off, but Stovall wasn’t able to get the tag down. That cost the Hogs because, in a 1-2 count, Waldschmidt hit the next pitch off the wall in center for an RBI double. That was all the damage because Pitre struck out.

T-4th: Kentucky 1, Arkansas 0

After throwing 42 pitches over the first two innings, Pooser has now thrown only 21 pitches the last two innings. In the fourth, he worked around a one-out walk by Holt.

B-4th: Kentucky 1, Arkansas 0

Smith notched another three strikeouts, but did give up a one-out single.

T-5th: Arkansas 1, Kentucky 1

Doubles by White and Stovall sandwiched around a Wilmsmeyer strikeouts have tied it up. Stovall has hit safely in seven of his last eight plate appearances, with this being his first extra-base hit over that stretch. Sprague-Lott moved Stovall to third on a ground out, but he was stranded when Aloy flied out to the warning track in right.

B-5th: Arkansas 1, Kentucky 1

McCarthy drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and then stole third before Smith even began his delivery. Smith responded by striking out Burkes and Waldschmidt to strand him there.

T-6th: Arkansas 4, Kentucky 1

After a ground out by McLaughlin, Pooser issued back-to-back walks to Holt and Helfrick. He’s at 99 pitches and that prompts a pitching change. Right-hander Cameron O’Brien – the Wildcats’ top short-relief arm – promptly gave up a two-run double to Diggs. Diggs ended up at third when the ball got away from the catcher. White roped a line drive down the line, but the third baseman snagged it and nearly got the double play, but Diggs dove back safely just in time.

Ross Lovich pinch hit for Wilsmsmeyer, prompting another pitching change by Kentucky. Left-hander Jackson Nove had him down 0-2, but Lovich managed to poke a blooper just between the second baseman and right fielder. That drove in Diggs and the ball bounced over the right fielder, allowing Lovich to turn it into a hustle double. Stovall went down looking to end the inning.

B-6th: Arkansas 4, Kentucky 1

After issuing another leadoff walk, Smith bounced back with three straight strikeouts. He’s up to 14 strikeouts tonight. He’s thrown 101 pitches, so that may be it for him.

T-7th: Arkansas 10, Kentucky 1

Arkansas loaded the bases with a leadoff walk by Sprague-Lott and then a one-out single by McLaughlin and HBP for Holt. Helfrick struck out, but Diggs delivered again with a two-run single.

The first pitch by new reliever Cooper Robinson, a right-hander, was singled through the left side by White for an RBI. He then walked Lovich on four pitches to load the bases again. Stovall and Sprague-Lott also walked, with each bringing in a run. A wild pitch allowed another run to score and put runners on second and third. That’s where they were stranded, as Aloy struck out to finally end the inning.

B-7th: Arkansas 10, Kentucky 1

Right-hander Will McEntire relieved Smith in the seventh and retired Kentucky in order. He got a deep fly out, a strikeout and a soft grounder.

T-8th: Arkansas 10, Kentucky 1

After Holt was robbed of a hit thanks to a diving catch by the right fielder, Helfrick extended the inning with a two-out single. Diggs struck out to end the inning.

B-8th: Arkansas 10, Kentucky 1

McEntire issued a leadoff walk, but then struck out Waldschmidt, the Wildcats’ best hitter. Pitre followed with a chopper that went high into the air. Sprague-Lott bare-handed it and fired a strike to first, but the runner was safe – a call that stood after review. It was still a great play, but it put runners on first and second. McEntire didn’t let it bother him, as he struck out Smith and got Church to fly out to center.

T-9th: Arkansas 10, Kentucky 1

White drew a leadoff walk and Sprague-Lott went the other way for a two-out single, but they were stranded on base.

B-9th: Arkansas 10, Kentucky 3

Right-hander Dylan Carter entered to try to close out the series opener. He issued a leadoff walk to Daly before bouncing back with a three-pitch strikeout of Nicholson. During that at bat, the runner took second and third without a throw. That allowed him to score on a wild pitch before McCarthy walked. James McCoy pinch hit for Herrera and flied out to left. Burkes followed with an RBI single, as the Hogs also allowed McCarthy to take second and third without a throw. Waldschmidt flied out to center to end it.

FINAL – Arkansas 10, Kentucky 3

Starting Lineups

Kentucky BaseballArkansas Baseball
1. Ryan Waldschmidt – LF1. Peyton Stovall – 2B
2. Emilien Pitre – 2B2. Jared Sprague-Lott – 3B
3. Grant Smith – SS3. Wehiwa Aloy – SS
4. Reuben Church – DH4. Ben McLaughlin – 1B
5. Mitchell Daly – 3B5. Peyton Holt – LF
6. Ryan Nicholson – 1B6. Ryder Helfrick – DH
7. Nolan McCarthy – CF7. Kendall Diggs – RF
8. Patrick Herrera – RF8. Hudson White – C
9. Devin Burkes – C9. Ty Wilmsmeyer – CF
Pitching: RHP Trey PooserPitching: LHP Hagen Smith

How to Watch Arkansas vs Kentucky (Game 1)

Date: Friday, May 3

Location: Kentucky Proud Park (Lexington, Ky.)

First Pitch: 5:30 p.m. CT

TV/Stream: SEC Network-Plus

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