Arkansas hosts Army Tuesday on Military Appreciation Day at Baum-Walker Stadium

By Dudley E. Dawson
on 2023-03-06 18:57 PM


This midweek Arkansas baseball game will have a little more pomp and circumstance to it than the others.

The Razorbacks (9-2) are hosting Army (5-5) Tuesday at 3 p.m. on Military Appreciation Day at Baum-Walker Stadium.

Arkansas, winners of its last four outings, will be hosting a service academy for the first time since 2003.

“It’ll be neat,” Razorback head coach Dave Van Horn said. “I think for the National Anthem they’ll bring out a really big flag, have some veterans out there helping out, spreading that out. I just think it’ll be cool. 

“We’ll wear military camo type hats and anything we can to help honor them a little bit.”

Arkansas in ranked third this week in the Perfect Game poll, eighth by Collegiate Baseball and USA Today and ninth by Baseball America.

Army is coming off a weekend in Manhattan, Kan., in which it lost 4-1 to Kansas State on Friday, battered Stonehill College 26-3 on Saturday and then lost 7-4 to the same team on Sunday.

“We were just trying to find some opponents, obviously, all the time,” Van Horn said.  “It’s hard to get teams to come down here. Once the first two or three weeks are over, teams that have been on the road, they don’t want to go on the road much. 

“They went to Manhattan and thought ‘Hey, we’ll come down here.’ Originally, we were supposed to play them twice, and then it just didn’t work out. So, we said ‘Hey, we’re fine with just one.’

“Nothing special went on there, it just worked out they were looking for a ball game maybe in the Midwest.”

Van Horn said Arkansas is planning to start Parker Coil (0-0, 6.00 ERA in 3 innings), a freshman left hander from Edmond, Okla., that he would like to see go at least a trio of innings on the mound.

“Well, best-case scenario maybe three to four innings,” Van Horn said. “I just want to see him command the ball and pitch and make it hard on him. If they hit him and he’s throwing strikes, I get it. Get ahead in the count.

“I just want to see a freshman, who (when) we see (him)in the fall, he’s got a good curve ball and he hasn’t been pitching like freely. Like the other day he came in and he’s pitching like 86. On the (score)board, and the board’s not always right. 

“But then, you know, once he’s been in there for a while, all of a sudden you see 89. And that’s where he needs to come in at. That’s what he does. He’s 88 to 90-91. Mostly 89-90. I just want to see that guy.”

The Razorbacks will follow up the Army contest by hosting Louisiana Tech (8-4) in a three-game set this weekend with Friday’s game at 3 p.m., Saturday at 2 and Sunday at 1.

Louisiana Tech split a two-game mid-week series at defending national champion and No. 4 Ole Miss and swept a three-game home set with Northwestern last week.

The Arkansas-Louisiana Tech is a rematch of one two years ago in Ruston where the Razorbacks won 2 of 3 from head coach Lane Burroughs team.

“We went down there,” Van Horn said. “I remember when I called Coach Burroughs, I said ‘Hey, what would you think about us coming down there and playing at your park?’ He goes, ‘No way, you won’t do that.’ I said ‘Yeah, I will… if you come back.’ He said ‘Yeah, I’ll be all over it. We’ll move somebody if we have to.’ 

“So, this is the return trip. It was a really good series last time. We got them the first couple of games, but they were tight. I remember the first game, I think (Jalen) Battles hit that home run off their student section out there up in the apartment complex to give us the lead, and then we held it. Then Saturday, I don’t remember exactly, but we won the game. 

“Then Sunday, it was a one-run game, I remember we flew out to the wall, and the wind was blowing straight in, kept that ball in the park. But it was a good series for us and good experience. Obviously, we’re really leery of them because they’re older and played an SEC school on the road, and we’re a little thin on the mound.”

Arkansas has lost four pitchers to injury in the last few weeks with Jackson Wiggins suffering a season-ending injury before the campaign even started.

Closer Brady Tygart and fellow relievers Jake Faherty and Koty Frank have all come up injured on the mound since the games began.

Tygart was initially ruled out for five or six weeks, something that is still likely as Arkansas’ medical team continues evaluation on his Tommy John injury.

“…There’s so many tests you can do,” Van Horn said. “ You can do an MRI. You can do an MRI with dye. And so we’re getting everything done just to clear everybody’s mind. We might already know by now. He had the last one done today. 

“He feels fine. But we’ve had other pitchers tell us they feel fine too and it’s not fine. So we’re hoping for the best.”

Frank was hurt while pitching in relief on Sunday when he threw just two pitches before exiting. He could also be out five to six weeks or could be done of the season per Van Horn.

“Well if it’s the Lat and it’s a strain, I think that’s what we’re looking at. If it’s worst then he’d be done.”

The four games this week and two midweek ones with UNLV next Tuesday and Wednesday are all that’s left between Arkansas and its SEC opening series with visiting Auburn.

“Yeah, so I mean, I think this week is going to be a big week with the games that we have because we are getting ready for SEC games,” Van Horn said. “And then the UNLV games next week, we’re going to have to really, really watch who we throw, especially that second game, because we have to be close to full strength against Auburn, because they’re leading the league in hitting. 

“I mean those dudes can really hit. It’s going to be interesting. We need to grab all the wins we can, but we have to be smart about it too when you’re talking about conference play, so we’ll have to be careful against UNLV on who we use.”

Photo by John D. James

(Last updated: 2023-03-06 18:57 PM)