After being swept by LSU, the No. 14 Razorbacks find themselves tied with Auburn for 10th in the overall Southeastern Conference standings with an 8-10 record. Only Georgia (6-11) and Arkansas’ next opponent, Kentucky (4-13), have worse records.
More importantly, only the top eight teams are invited to the SEC Tournament May 25-29 in Hoover, Ala.
“We’re not going to start worrying about that yet,” said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, whose team hosts Oral Roberts at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. “We need a win (against ORU) and we’ll do all we can to win, but then we need to get ready to go play Kentucky.
“That’s the focus to really get back on a winning track in conference.”
With 12 SEC games remaining, the Razorbacks better focus quickly. After Kentucky, they host Florida before traveling to Alabama and wrapping up the season at home against Ole Miss.
Florida is the hottest team in the league with 13-5 record while Alabama is close behind with an 11-7 mark. The Hogs were second in the Western Division heading into last weekend’s series at Tennessee, but now have lost five straight league tilts.
“We had our home field this weekend and we didn’t even win a game,” Van Horn said. “That’s what is the most disappointing. It really puts us behind the eight-ball.”
Jake Dugger was in the leadoff spot Saturday for the Hogs and worked a full-count walk to start the game before being picked off at first.
Dugger, who has hit in the three-hole for Arkansas most of this season, led off 48 games for the Razorbacks last season. He was 1 for 3 Sunday after entering the game in a 2 for 29 slump.
“He has a bunch of RBIs, but he hasn’t been driving people in lately,” Van Horn said. “He has got a pretty good eye and he takes a lot of pitches. The leadoff spot, we’ve been struggling at it a lot lately.
“It’s not a big deal when you’ve got other guys in the lineup hitting, but we haven’t had very many people in our lineup hitting.”
Dugger led off 48 games for the Razorbacks last season.
Arkansas redshirt freshman Lee Land’s first collegiate start Sunday was less than memorable. After retiring the side in order with two strikeouts in the first inning, Land ran into trouble in the second when a leadoff single by Nick Stavinoah and a walk to Will Harris led to an RBI single by Bruce Sprowl.
After another walk loaded the bases, Land got a ground out and a strikeout to escape the threat. But he was relieved four batters into the third after loading the bases on a pair of walks and a single by Ryan Patterson.
With LSU runners at first and third, Sprowl stole second base, but stopped a few feet short of the bag when Hogs second baseman Brock Bond jumped to snare a high throw from catcher Brian Walker.
Sprowl would’ve been safe had he kept going, but stopped in order to give the runner on third a chance to score. Bond, figuring Sprowl had already slid in safely behind him, hesitated before turning and trying to tag Sprowl, who jumped around the tag attempt and safely dove into the backside of the base untouched.
Walker clotheslined himself on a green padded wall that extends from each side of the visitor’s dugout when he caught a pop-up in foul territory. Walker, who was spun around and landed on his back, cracked a quick smile as he showed the umpire the ball ... Hogs second baseman John Henry Marquardt is expected to miss Tuesday’s game against Oral Roberts with a right knee injury. Marquardt, who has had two surgeries on each knee, was replaced by Bond on Sunday ... Arkansas’ Danny Hamblin (15 games) and Craig Gentry (10) had hitting streaks come to an end Sunday. Both went 0 for 4.