Arkansas vs. UALR Baseball Advance

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – What Dave Van Horn says he knows about the University of Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans facing his University of Arkansas Razorbacks tonight and Wednesday is remembered by most Razorbacks baseball fans.
“I know what they did to us two years ago,” Van Horn said. “That’s what I know.”

UALR, recently re-marketing itself as Little Rock, stunned the 2019 eventual College World Series qualifying Razorbacks bludgeoning them, 17-7 as Razorbacks Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek disbanded the Razorbacks’ longstanding of policy of not playing against other Arkansas based schools.

The 22-4 Razorbacks with a 3-game SEC weekend looming in Oxford, Miss. with their 7-2 in the SEC co-SEC West leader Ole Miss, and Coach Chris Curry’s Trojans, 12-11 with a 3-game Sun Belt Conference series weekend against South Alabama looming in Little Rock, play their midweek 2-game nonconference series at 6:30 tonight and 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Razorbacks’ Baum-Walker Stadium.

Though it was two years ago with last year’s covid-cancelled season interrupting the instate clash, will Van Horn resurrect that 17-7 pasting for midweek motivation?

“No, I won’t mention it,” Van Horn said Monday. “I won’t say a word about it, haven’t said a word about it. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other team.”

By advancing to Omaha, the 2019 Hogs proved what Van Horn what always espoused that the Razorbacks could play play instate teams and lose and the sun still rise the next day.

“It’s a really good matchup with an in-state team,” Van Horn, whose Razorbacks earlier this year resumed long dormant competition with the University of Central Arkansas with a 21-8 victory at Baum-Walker. “I think it’s really good for the state. I’ve been saying it for 10 years but nobody would listen. Then when Hunter got here, I think he started saying, ‘You know, maybe it would be.’ Some of the guys on the Board (Trustees) time thought this would be be good for the state. And they made a change and I think it was a good change. We’re going to lose some games. It’s baseball, it’s the middle of the week, but I’m glad we’re playing them.”

Curry previously was one of Van Horn’s Razorbacks graduate assistants, and Trojans pitching coach R.D. Spiehs played for Nebraska while Van Horn head coached the Cornhuskers.

“I have a lot of respect for Coach Curry and R.D. Spiehs,” Van Horn said. “Those guys are competitors.”
Van Horn said they gave those 2019 Hogs a reminder about competing.
“It might have been a wakeup call,” Van Horn said. “Because we played pretty good the rest of the season and got to Omaha.”

Van Horn said the current Hogs, nationally ranked No. 1 by Baseball America and No. 2 by D-1 Baseball, don’t need a wakeup call but he expects the Trojans, smarting from losing a Sun Belt series last weekend at Arkansas State, will aim to give them. “They’ll come in with an attitude,” Van Horn said. “We’ll have our hands full.”
Three Trojans, led by Jorden Hussein’s .413 batting average hit .341 or better. “They hit. 280 as a team and that’s what we hit,” Van Horn said.

Both teams will save their frontline starters for their league play this weekend, Kole Ramage, usually a middle reliever, starts for Arkansas tonight with Wednesday’s starter to be announced. Displaced as a weekend starter when routed during Alabama’s 10-run run second-inning three weekends ago, Benton’s Peyton Pallette likely will start Saturday’s game against Ole Miss, Van Horn said.

Pallette performed stellar long relief outings in SEC victories over Mississippi State during the Razorbacks’ sweep in Starkville, Miss. and again last Friday helping Arkansas take 2 of 3 from Auburn. He will replace Zebulon Vermillion who has struggled the last two weekends in the SEC starts between left-handers Patrick Wicklander and Lael Lockhart.

Senior right-hander Kevin Kopps produced five scoreless innings relieving three times in three days against Auburn.
“Just proud of him for the effort,” Van Horn said. “He wanted the ball and he pitched great.”

Connor Noland, a conference weekend starter on 2019 College World Series team and last season’s No. 1 Arkansas starter before the covid cancellation, has only pitched twice this season but may soon be in the thick of it.
“Connor Noland has a little strain but he’s throwing again,” Van Horn said. “I think he’ll be ready to pitch for us in two or two and a half weeks. If we can get him back pitching the way he has pitched in the past he could really help us down the stretch.”

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