FAYETTEVILLE – Caleb Bolden’s four hitless, scoreless innings saving Arkansas’ 4-0 victory over the Texas Longhorns Sunday night earned him SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week honors and Thursday’s start starting a four-game home opening series at Baum-Walker Stadium vs. the Southeast Missouri State (SEMO) Redhawks.
Arkansas, 3-0, after sweeping Big 12 powers Texas Tech, Texas and TCU at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown of SEC West vs. Big 12 teams at the Texas Rangers’ Global Life Field in Arlington, Texas, and SEMO, 2-1 of the Ohio Valley Conference winning 2 of 3 last weekend at South Alabama, play at 3 p.,m. today, 3 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
“Yeah, we’re going to go with Bolden tomorrow,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. “He threw 50-something (56) pitches I think on Sunday. Then we’re going to go right back with the rotation we did on the weekend.”
Against Texas Tech, Texas and TCU, Van Horn in order started right-handers Zebulon Vermillion and Benton’s Peyton Pallette and left-hander Lael Lockhart.
All pitched well as did in relief Bolden, Jaxson Wiggins, striking out the side against TCU with 98 miles per hour fast balls, Evan Taylor and Ryan Costeiu, and, redeeming initially rough outings, Elijah Trest, Kevin Kopps and Caden Monke.
Two aces of the past two years, Connor Noland and Patrick Wicklander, didn’t get to pitch in Arlington because the others so effectively ate the innings.
“I like having some decisions to make,” Van Horn laughed of trying find enough of work for capable arms vs. struggling with short pitching depth.
His batting lineup just got deeper, too. Preseason All-SEC designated hitter Matt Goodheart, not traveling to Arlington because of “stomach issues,” Van Horn said, now is “cleared to play,” the coach asserted Wednesday.
“We’ll see how it goes at workout today,” Van Horn said Wednesday. “I’m not sure if I’ll start him tomorrow but if he’s good to go he’ll be in the lineup at least a couple of times this weekend.” Subbing at DH for Goodheart, junior college transfer Brady Slavens’ .417 batting average leads the Hogs after three games including with a RBI single and 3-run home run knocking in all runs for the 4-0 triumph over Texas.
Van Horn said he could fit Slavens at first base, third base or right field if Goodheart is fit and also wants an outfield opportunity for redshirt freshman Zack Gregory.
Van Horn said he wants to play more of his roster but knows firsthand the Redhawks aren’t to be taken lightly.
SEMO Coach Andy Sawyers played for Van Horn at Nebraska.
SEMO assistant Trevor Ezell of Bryant as a graduate transfer came from SEMO to Arkansas to be Van Horn’s first baseman for the Hogs’ 2019 College World Series team.
“Trevor will be a great coach,” Van Horn said. “He knows a little bit how we run things and some of our secrets. So we’ll probably have to change a few things up to get through this series without them figuring some things out. They went down to South Alabama and won 2 out of 3 against a team that’s picked to win the league. So they’re not scared. It will be a good series.”
SEMO lefty Dylan Dodd starts today after beating South Alabama allowing only a run while striking out eight in six innings.
First baseman Austin Blazevick, .455 batting average; designated hitter Lincoln Andrews, .385 and catcher Andy Keck, .357 with a home run, led SEMO’s attack against South Alabama.
Photos courtesy of Craven Whitlow, CW3, Sports Action