FAYETTEVILLE – A SEC weekend starting pitcher on the
Arkansas Razorbacks’ 2019 College World Series and the No. 2 starter during last year’s covid abbreviated college baseball season, Patrick Wicklander starts all over again today.
The junior left-hander debut starts for this season today when the nationally No. 1 Razorbacks, 12-1, host the Big 12’s Oklahoma Sooners at 5 p.m. on SEC Network television at Baum-Walker Stadium.
Wicklander, 0-0 and a 3.68 earned run average in three relief stints this season, was beaten out in the fall and spring scrimmages for his customary starting spot but never forgotten by Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn.
This first midweek game in three weeks betters Wicklander’s opportunity to be remembered.
“ We are going to see what he can do,” Van Horn said Monday. “He was excited about having an opportunity to start. He’s used to being a starter and I wanted to tell him early and let him think about it, kind of like it used to be for him so to speak.”
Wicklander endured a statistically rough but better than the stats showed outing, Van Horn said throwing 1 1-3 relief innings in last Friday’s 9-7 Arkansas victory at Louisiana Tech.
The stats showed six hits and three runs to the debit and two strikeouts and no walks to the credit.
“This past weekend, they got hits on him,” Van Horn said. “But they didn’t hit him hard. Just some base hits. It just didn’t go his way. He’s thrown the ball pretty well. His velocity has definitely jumped a little bit. If he can command his secondary pitches he’ll do fine.”
When he’s doing fine Wicklander is a proven SEC pitcher.
“We just really want to give him the opportunity to think about starting for a couple of days,” Van Horn said. “See how it goes and maybe he’ll make a move for us the rest of the season.”
Presently the weekend rotation of Benton’s Peyton Pallette, Zebulon Vermillion and Lael Lockhart that started last Friday through Sunday at Louisiana Tech appears set for Arkansas’ first SEC series hosting . SEC West rival Alabama at Baum-Walker at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 6:30 pm. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday with Sunday’s game televised by the SEC Network.
Coach Skip Johnson’s Sooners, 7-7 and batting .301 as a team going into their Monday finish of a 3-game series with Arkansas State in Norman, Okla., certainly swing the bats to test Wicklander.
“Oklahoma can really hit,” Van Horn said. “They are taking their walks and don’t strike out a whole lot. They are scoring a lot of runs. Now they’ve given up a lot of runs as well. That’s what we know.”
First baseman Tyler Hardman, .473 batting average, center fielder Tanner Treadaway, .348 with 13 RBI, and second baseman Conor McKenna, .327 with four home runs and 13 RBI, swing stout Sooners sticks.
In college baseball’s 56-game season you can’t win them all. So Arkansas’ 12-0 run finally ended with the wind blowing in and Louisiana Tech’s Jarrett Whorff’s 2-hit complete game shutout bested Lockhart, 2-0 in a Sunday pitching duel.
Could that be a “good loss” refocusing the Hogs before their SEC season commences?
“I think time will tell on that,” Van Horn said Monday. “If we play well tomorrow and this weekend, then maybe it was. Obviously you want to win every game. It frustrates you when you lose a game like that because we had a chance to break it open and we just couldn’t get the big hit.’