HomeSportsScouting the Wright State Raiders vs. Arkansas Razorbacks baseball

Scouting the Wright State Raiders vs. Arkansas Razorbacks baseball

FAYETTEVILLE – Only one school in the country shares a fight song with Arkansas, and when it plays over the speakers at Baum-Walker Stadium this weekend, just about everyone in attendance will be familiar with the tune. Tiptoeing to the finish line from Dayton, Ohio, the Wright State Raiders come in for a three-game series with the Diamond Hogs.

Fresh off back-to-back Horizon League titles and NCAA Tournament appearances, the 2023 Raiders got off to a disappointing start after conference head coaches picked them to win it again. A season-opening trip to Hawaii resulted in losses in three of four games by a minus-15 point difference, and a subsequent series in Kentucky brought their record to 2-5 with 32 more points allowed than scored.

Inconsistent hitting and pitching have plagued Wright State thus far. The team’s slash is .210/.321/.374, while the number of opponents in each category is at least 100 points higher. A 12-place finish to beat Kentucky on Saturday only gave way to a 15-0 loss the next day.

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The two bright spots in Raider’s batting order are outfielders Andrew Patrick and Dane Thomas, who both hit .400 or better. A Horizon League All-Freshman team selection last year, Patrick is 8-17, including two home runs in the same game against the Wildcats, with a 1,491 on-base-plus slugging percentage in six starts, while Thomas has recorded just 10 at bats and three starts.

The only other Wright State starter with a .250 average North is two-way player Jay Luikart, who made the second all-conference team last season. He and Patrick went deep twice in the same game, accounting for half of the team’s home runs.

Luikart has not been nearly as effective on the mound as he has been at the plate, though few of his co-workers have had much success. The Staff’s 10.25 ERA handily surpasses Arkansas’s.

Sunday starter Alex Theis struggled the most with the group, giving up 13 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings to the tune of a 43.87 ERA. It’s unclear if the right-hander will get the kink again, but luckily for him, the rest of the rotation has been usable at worst.

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Right-hander Jake Shirk has touched the rubber in both openers of the series for the Raiders and produced very different results. Six scoreless innings in Hawaii gave him an opening day win, but five earned runs on nine hits in 2 1/3 innings last week shot his ERA up to 5.40. Opponents hit .314 against him, so the Razorbacks could have some fun on Friday.

At the center of the rotation is the man with the strongest, but most puzzling stats through two starts: southpaw Sebastian Gongora. He allowed one hit and a pair of earned runs in five innings with four walks and four strikeouts. Before that, it was three unearned runs on four basehits with no walks or strikeouts.

Among those who did not start, Luikart’s four innings are the most on the staff. He is one of eight pitchers with a sub-7.00 ERA, and the other eight who have pitched are all in double digits.

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With the Razorback bullpen also in disarray, spectators at Baum-Walker Stadium can score high this weekend. The series opener is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m. CT, with games at 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. All three can be streamed live on the SEC Network Plus, accessible through the ESPN app.

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