With the Hogs winners of three straight SEC Series, while knocking on the door for another…again, Patrick Wicklander has the game two spotlight. In this stretch of conference series wins, Wicklander has been on the bump in the middle game each of the last three SEC series, producing two wins (back-to-back, one against Tennessee, the other against Kentucky). Wicklander in rhythm…it’s such a big key at this point in the season. Why? Well, sure he’s a weekend starter now, but it didn’t start out that way and the weekend rotation was one of the biggest question marks heading into the season. Hogs had Zay (Isaiah Campbell) and his experience going in, but after that, didn’t really know as far as steps two and three for starters in SEC Games. Against Mississippi State and Tennessee, it obviously helped that the Hogs scored in bunches early and often with Wicklander on the Hill, but it took awhile for the bats to wake up at Kentucky in his start against the Cats.
Wicklander has five wins against only one loss. Yeah, his ERA is 3.91, but he’s clicking at a crucial time…the stretch run of the regular season. The main mid-week starter earlier in the year, a reliever in other spots, the Lefty has emerged as a go-to option on the weekends, and he ranks second on the team with 71 strikeouts.
The Freshman from San Jose, California, has ten starts, and factoring his 17 appearances overall, he’s been through the battles over and over again. Also, his start at Kentucky Sunday led to six or more strikeouts in a game for his third consecutive outing, each time throwing fewer than six innings.
Opponents are batting only .198 against Wicklander and going back as far as the Auburn series in early April, you could tell, he perhaps, turned the corner. On short rest, he tossed five scoreless innings, struck out six in his first SEC start, and set Arkansas up to clinch the series win in the rubber game after a 15-inning marathon the night before.
Tonight…Wicklander’s turn again. The stuff is there, along with the confidence. He’s had the ball enough to put Arkansas in the right position. As much as LSU has Arkansas’ number in series wins since 2011, you have to feel good about tonight. Wicklander can get it done.