FAYETTEVILLE – During the baseball preseason, many Arkansas Razorbacks bragged believing they had 10 pitchers capable of starting on a 3-game SEC weekend.
At this point, just three would do nicely.
It seems almost unfathomable that Coach Dave Van Horn’s 28-5 overall, 9-3 best in the SEC West Razorbacks could be consensus No. 1 in the nation, yet come into this SEC West weekend hosting Texas A&M at Baum-Walker Stadium after no starter past four innings last weekend while the Hogs’ bullpen took 2 of 3 last SEC West weekend from nationally No. 3 Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.
Already with rotation revisions since the season’s outset, Van Horn crosses his fingers and again starts Patrick Wicklander in tonight’s 6:30 game against the Aggies, 20-15, 3-9 in the SEC, and Benton’s Peyton Pallette at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Lael Lockhart at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“I mean I have to be confident in them,” Van Horn, who has variously seen good outings from them all this season. “They’ve got us to where we are right now. I think if you look all over the country, this time of year, a lot of times you’ll have some teams that are trying to figure it out a little bit or they’re a little tired.”
None lasted long enough last weekend to be tired this weekend, Van Horn remarked.“ Our starters haven’t given us much innings, so they should have some stamina,” Van Horn said. “They should have some innings built up and ready to go. Our guys have been giving us four, three innings. We’re hoping they’re going to give us more this weekend and we don’t have to use our bullpen so much.”
Last weekend in Oxford, the series crammed by rain into three games in two days, Kevin Kopps threw scoreless innings Saturday saving a 7-3 victory and the final three innings winning Sunday’s slugfest, 18-14. Ole Miss won Saturday’s second game, 13-6.
Van Horn made sure to keep Kopps inactive during the Razorbacks’ 12-4 and 26-1 midweek mashings of UAPB (Arkansas-Pine Bluff). The Hogs hitters, 31 runs in three games against an Ole Miss pitching staff in preseason billed among the best, against an Aggies’ pitching staff with a 3.65 earned run average compared to Arkansas’ 4.25.
“What we know about them is they have outstanding pitching,” Van Horn said. “They have really good arms. They were a Top 25 team to start the season in most polls. Yeah, they’re 3-9 but they could easily be 9-3. They’ve got some good hitters as well. They’ve got a first baseman (Will Frizell, .358 batting average with 11 home runs and 58 RBI) that has a ton of power. We just have to play good. If you play good you give yourself a chance to win.”