Arkansas vs. South Carolina Advance

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – The Razorbacks’ already shortened baseball week has become so shortened to disrupt their pitching rotation for their 3-game SEC series starting tonight at South Carolina.

In Columbia, S.C. at 6 (CDT) tonight on the SEC Network, nationally No. 1 Arkansas, 30-6 overall and best in the SEC West at 11-4, and the D-1 Baseball 11th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks, 24-10 overall and at 10-5 tied with Tennessee for second behind 11-4 Vanderbilt in the SEC East, start a series allegedly to continue at 6 p.m. Friday on the SEC+ Internet video and 3 p.m. (CDT) Saturday on SEC+.

However with Wednesday’s weekend weather forecast indicating 100 percent chance of rain Saturday in Columbia, chances are the Hogs and Gamecocks will conclude the series with a Friday doubleheader.

Such rescheduling further compresses the Razorbacks, forced the last two SEC weekends because of Friday night rainouts to play Saturday doubleheaders and finish as scheduled on Sunday, on a week their normal Friday through Sunday SEC schedule is switched to Thursday through Saturday accommodating Thursday night SEC Network TV.
So Caleb Bolden, Arkansas’ No. 4 starter normally starting a Tuesday night nonconference game, starts tonight.
Benton’s Peyton Pallette and No. 1 starter Patrick Wicklander are bumped to Friday and Saturday after starting last Saturday’s doubleheader sweep over Texas A&M, with customary No. 3 starter Lael Lockhart in the bullpen in Columbia having thrown 51 pitches starting Sunday’s 11-10 loss to Texas A&M.

The Razorbacks may resurrect the previously ailing arms of Connor Noland, last year’s No. 1 starter but only used twice this season, and Zebulon Vermillion, 2-0, 3.55,, sidelined the last two weeks.

“It looks like we’ve got Vermillion back this weekend,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said Wednesday. “Looks like Connor Noland is gonna be available, possibly Friday. But who knows? If we play Saturday for sure. We’re still in the bullpen with him, building him up. He feels great, so he says, and he looks good. So maybe we’re going to get some guys back to help us down the stretch with a little bit of experience.”

Regarding Bolden, 2-0, 4.63, starting tonight, Van Horn said, “Well, he’s our freshest guy, – unless we decide to go with Vermillion, but we’re not sure about that. He could come in right off of Caleb. Caleb’s started some games for us over the last few weeks and he (against Texas A&M in relief) threw pretty good the other day.”
Arkansas’ Tuesday night game this week vs. Grambling State at Baum-Walker Stadium was cancelled because of temperatures dipping into the 20’s.

Next Tuesday’s nonconference game with the Missouri State Bears at Baum-Walker preceding a Friday through Sunday SEC weekend at LSU has already been canceled because of a covid-19 outbreak among the Missouri State team.

Wicklander could follow Pallette as the third-game starter against South Carolina either Saturday or in a Friday doubleheader nightcap but also could be diverted to joining Kevin Kopps, 6-0, four saves and a 1.12 earned run average, as a wild card reliever in Columbia.

“We could use him out of the pen on Thursday for an inning,” Van Horn said Wednesday. “We could save him to start on Friday if we played two or we could just save him until Saturday. We don’t know how we are going to use him yet. But he’s fine. He threw really well last week. He’s just short rest. That’s why he’s not starting tomorrow.”

Coach Mark Kingston’s Gamecocks, for the second consecutive SEC series on a Thursday through Saturday SEC schedule off taking 2 of 3 at LSU, will keep their regular all right-handed rotation of Thomas Farr 2-3, 3.28 tonight and Brannon Jordan, 4-2, 3.18 and Will Sanders 6-1 2.11 the following two games.

“They’ve got a power arm going at us tomorrow,” Van Horn said. “Probably going to be anywhere from 93 to 96 most of the time. Pretty much the same type guys the next two days, right-handers that throw hard with a pretty secondary pitch.

The Gamecocks’ attack is led by center fielder Brady Allen .309 batting average, 9 home runs and 30 RBI; left fielder Josiah Sighter, .304, 5 home runs, 25 RBI; second baseman Braylen Wimmer, . 301 6 home runs, 20 RBI, and slugging catcher Wes Clarke enhancing his .280 with 15 home runs and 35 RBI.

“They’re a powerful team,” Van Horn said. “They can hit some home runs. They can score quick on you. Defensively they’re solid. They’ve played really well at home. So we’re going to have to play well.”

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