Baxendale: Give Me the Ball

It will be DJ Baxendale on the mound Friday night when Arkansas travels to LSU this weekend for an SEC baseball series.

After winning 15 games in his first 19 decisions, DJ Baxendale had a bad outing last week at Mississippi State. The junior righthander with a career 2.71 ERA in 176 innings gave up eight runs in three innings to lose his first game of the season.

So how has Baxendale responded over the last couple of days in practice? Head coach Dave Van Horn said, "He's disappointed, wants to help his team and he's ready to get the ball on Friday night."

That's what Van Horn will do as the No. 3 Razorbacks visit the No. 15 LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, La., this weekend. Game time is 7 p.m. Friday night for the series opener.

"I think he'll give a great effort," Van Horn said. "He's going to try to give us three or four good innings and I'm fine with that. We have a good bullpen. We can mix and match after that."

So what was the deal at Mississippi State when Baxendale gave up nine hits, including two home runs and a double?

"He's not hurt," Van Horn said. "It might be a little mechanical. His arm slot was lower and his pitches flattened out. Maybe not having success bothered him a little. I'm interested to see how it goes with him."

Baxendale seemed to shrug off the lackluster outing when reporters asked after Wednesday's practice.

"It happens," Baxendale said. "It's baseball. It's not my first bad outing and it won't be my last. You have to let it go. You go get the next one. There are 10 SEC weekends. Two are gone. Eight more to go. At the end of May or start of June, no one is going to remember what happened at Mississippi State."

Baxendale said the specific correction has to do with arm slot and is all mechanical.

"I was moving my arm angle around and not being consistent with the same angle," he said. "You get tired at this point and you don't do everything the same like you do in the fall when you are really working on your core mechanics."

When the arm slot dropped, Baxendale said it takes away his strength -- hitting precise locations.

"Everything gets flat and that hurts me with some of the things that really help me, like command," he said. "I have to stay in the same slot so I can hit my locations."

Baxendale looks forward to the competition at LSU. He played with several LSU stars the last two weekends, both in the Cape Cod League and with Team USA.

"I keep up with them on texting, Tweet and Facebook," he said. "That's the beauty of college baseball. That's what's fun about it. You get to make friends along the way."

There has been some chatter about this series.

"It's been on all of the grand social media," Baxendale said. "I've joked with the guys at LSU that we are coming down there to beat you."

The Hogs lost on Friday night as State ace Chris Stratton had command throughout in a decisive 11-2 verdict. The Hogs bounced back to win the next two for their first road series win since the 2010 season when they won at Vandy to end the regular season.

Van Horn is solid on his first two starters at LSU. After Baxendale, he'll go with red-hot Ryne Stanek. Van Horn said he didn't worry about Stanek after his first two pitches jumped out of his hand.

"Normally, I don't look up (at the radar gun on the scoreboard)," Van Horn said. "I guess I'm superstitious about it. But I did this time. The first pitch was 95, right down the middle. His second was 96 and he was right on the plate with everything. I stopped looking. He had his breaking ball working, too."

But what about Sunday? Van Horn is calling it "to be announced" for now. His choices to start the finale include Cade Lynch, Brandon Moore and Nolan Sanburn. Randall Fant has been the Sunday starter the last two weekends, but he wasn't mentioned Wednesday.

The head coach did talk up reliever Colby Suggs.

"He's starting to get everyone's attention," Van Horn said. "He may have been overlooked to this point."

Suggs is a 6-0, 225-pound sophomore righthander from Sulphur Springs, Texas. The Hogs loved him as a junior in high school when he was throwing 91-92 miles per hour. But he added weight over that summer because he also played offensive guard in football.

"He got too big," Van Horn said. "He was a little stiff when he got here and he was more like high 80s. But his velocity is back. The other day at Mississippi State the radar gun had him at 95-96 and it's a legit gun. Every pitch was over 92.

"He only went one inning and we probably pulled him too early. Hindsight is 20/20. He throws a lot of pitches because no one hits him. But he probably can give us three innings. I like him in the role we've got him now."

Van Horn entered the media session Wednesday with one burning question. Should he go wtih Bo Bigham or Jacob Mahan at second base. LSU is going to start three righthanders. Mahan is a lefty.

"Really, that's the question," Van Horn said. "I was trying to make my mind up on what to do there when I was just in my office. That's a tough call. Bo can play the outfield, too. So that's what I'm thinking about."

Van Horn was asked about the botched play in the ninth inning that allowed State to push the Sunday game into extra innings. Shortstop Tim Carver and Bigham were late on a force play at second base. Van Horn said the blame was with Carver based on communication just before the play.

"The hitter had been pulling it ... and Bo had just told Tim that he was going to have a hard time getting there and that he'd probably have to go to first with it," Van Horn said. "Basically, Tim forgot. When they came in after that inning, the two of them were talking and I went up to them. Everybody was frustrated. I asked them and Tim said he messed up."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories

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\r\n\"I think he'll give a great effort,\" Van Horn said. \"He's going to try to give us three or four good innings and I'm fine with that. We have a good bullpen. We can mix and match after that.\"\r\n

\r\nSo what was the deal at Mississippi State when Baxendale gave up nine hits, including two home runs and a double?\r\n

\r\n\"He's not hurt,\" Van Horn said. \"It might be a little mechanical. His arm slot was lower and his pitches flattened out. Maybe not having success bothered him a little. I'm interested to see how it goes with him.\"\r\n

\r\nBaxendale seemed to shrug off the lackluster outing when reporters asked after Wednesday's practice.\r\n

\r\n\"It happens,\" Baxendale said. \"It's baseball. It's not my first bad outing and it won't be my last. You have to let it go. You go get the next one. There are 10 SEC weekends. Two are gone. Eight more to go. At the end of May or start of June, no one is going to remember what happened at Mississippi State.\"\r\n

\r\nBaxendale said the specific correction has to do with arm slot and is all mechanical.\r\n

\r\n\"I was moving my arm angle around and not being consistent with the same angle,\" he said. \"You get tired at this point and you don't do everything the same like you do in the fall when you are really working on your core mechanics.\"\r\n

\r\nWhen the arm slot dropped, Baxendale said it takes away his strength -- hitting precise locations.\r\n

\r\n\"Everything gets flat and that hurts me with some of the things that really help me, like command,\" he said. \"I have to stay in the same slot so I can hit my locations.\"\r\n

\r\nBaxendale looks forward to the competition at LSU. He played with several LSU stars the last two weekends, both in the Cape Cod League and with Team USA.\r\n

\r\n\"I keep up with them on texting, Tweet and Facebook,\" he said. \"That's the beauty of college baseball. That's what's fun about it. You get to make friends along the way.\"\r\n

\r\nThere has been some chatter about this series.\r\n

\r\n\"It's been on all of the grand social media,\" Baxendale said. \"I've joked with the guys at LSU that we are coming down there to beat you.\"\r\n\r\n

\r\nThe Hogs lost on Friday night as State ace Chris Stratton had command throughout in a decisive 11-2 verdict. The Hogs bounced back to win the next two for their first road series win since the 2010 season when they won at Vandy to end the regular season.\r\n

\r\nVan Horn is solid on his first two starters at LSU. After Baxendale, he'll go with red-hot Ryne Stanek. Van Horn said he didn't worry about Stanek after his first two pitches jumped out of his hand.\r\n

\r\n\"Normally, I don't look up (at the radar gun on the scoreboard),\" Van Horn said. \"I guess I'm superstitious about it. But I did this time. The first pitch was 95, right down the middle. His second was 96 and he was right on the plate with everything. I stopped looking. He had his breaking ball working, too.\"\r\n

\r\nBut what about Sunday? Van Horn is calling it \"to be announced\" for now. His choices to start the finale include Cade Lynch, Brandon Moore and Nolan Sanburn. Randall Fant has been the Sunday starter the last two weekends, but he wasn't mentioned Wednesday.\r\n

\r\nThe head coach did talk up reliever Colby Suggs.\r\n

\r\n\"He's starting to get everyone's attention,\" Van Horn said. \"He may have been overlooked to this point.\"\r\n

\r\nSuggs is a 6-0, 225-pound sophomore righthander from Sulphur Springs, Texas. The Hogs loved him as a junior in high school when he was throwing 91-92 miles per hour. But he added weight over that summer because he also played offensive guard in football.\r\n

\r\n\"He got too big,\" Van Horn said. \"He was a little stiff when he got here and he was more like high 80s. But his velocity is back. The other day at Mississippi State the radar gun had him at 95-96 and it's a legit gun. Every pitch was over 92.\r\n

\r\n\"He only went one inning and we probably pulled him too early. Hindsight is 20/20. He throws a lot of pitches because no one hits him. But he probably can give us three innings. I like him in the role we've got him now.\"\r\n

\r\nVan Horn entered the media session Wednesday with one burning question. Should he go wtih Bo Bigham or Jacob Mahan at second base. LSU is going to start three righthanders. Mahan is a lefty.\r\n

\r\n\"Really, that's the question,\" Van Horn said. \"I was trying to make my mind up on what to do there when I was just in my office. That's a tough call. Bo can play the outfield, too. So that's what I'm thinking about.\"\r\n

\r\nVan Horn was asked about the botched play in the ninth inning that allowed State to push the Sunday game into extra innings. Shortstop Tim Carver and Bigham were late on a force play at second base. Van Horn said the blame was with Carver based on communication just before the play.\r\n

\r\n\"The hitter had been pulling it ... and Bo had just told Tim that he was going to have a hard time getting there and that he'd probably have to go to first with it,\" Van Horn said. \"Basically, Tim forgot. When they came in after that inning, the two of them were talking and I went up to them. Everybody was frustrated. 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