The Razorbacks went through a 90-minute practice at Bellevue East High School on Sunday afternoon and with every round of hitting came some work on bunting. That's typical of a college practice these days with the modified bats with the tiny sweet spot. And it's the called-for attitude when you play in the spacious park now hosting the College World Series.
Van Horn also knows what to expect from Carolina's Gamecocks. They are the two-time defending CWS champs and are still undefeated in the NCAA tourney this season.
"They have a great streak," Van Horn said, noting he's talked with USC coach Ray Tanner about the way his team has put it together.
"We've visited during the season about it. They've done it every way you can, too. They've pitched, they've hit and they've come from behind. They play with a lot of confidence. My hat is off to them, but maybe we can stop it."
Arkansas third baseman Matt Reynolds looks forward to a "fun battle. It's our biggest game of the season in my book."
All of the Hogs expect it to be a battle. They were talking about that even before they knew it would be the Gamecocks. Several noted they were 3-3 combined against Carolina and Florida, the two teams that played Saturday night to fill the spot opposite the Hogs, 8-1 victors over Kent State.
"It's good battles every time we go out in the SEC," said pitcher Brandon Moore. "They are all good games."
Third baseman Matt Reynolds knows neither team will give up.
"That's what I'd say about the games with South Carolina, that they battle and so do we," he said. "Obviously, they are the two-time national champs. But we are very confident. We have been on the road and we are used to it. We played one of our best games of the year yesterday."
Arkansas will go with sophomore fiamethrower Ryne Stanek against the Gamecocks. The 6-4 righthander was staked to a 6-0 lead against Carolina ace Michael Roth about one month ago, but he couldn't hold it.
"I made a couple of mistakes," Stanek said. "It cost us some runs. I think if I had pitched better I could have given our bullpen a four-run lead and our bullpen would have made it stick.
"That's motivation for this game. We'd like to knock them off their perch."
Stanek was relaxed Sunday afternoon. He was asked about the mindset of his teammates.
"We are loose," he said. "We might be a lot looser than I expected. I've been around some of the other teams around town and they seemed nervous to me. I think we know we are battle tested. Nothing that happens is going to surprise us."
A local Little League team met the team bus at the high school park where the Hogs held their Sunday workout -- sporting ball caps with Razorback logos and jerseys with Razorbacks on the front. The team -- coached by an Arkansas camera man -- called the Hogs for the team during practice. But they were cheering for the Hogs even without any instruction from Arkansas media.
The young ball players said their league always goes by college team mascots. They chose Razorbacks in early April, thinking that was one of the teams with a chance to make Omaha. They were thrilled when their team came through last weekend in Waco.
When Derek Bleeker blasted a long home run off the midsection of a light standard in left center, the youngsters came to life. When he blasted a second one in the road beyond two fences, they yelped again. It was at the same field three years ago that Brett Eibner blasted one into a moving van, breaking a wind shield.
Van Horn said Bleeker's shots were in the same area. He remembers Eibner's homer that came the day before he hit a dramatic shot to help the Hogs beat Virginia in an exciting Arkansas victory.
"I know people say there have been a lot of home runs into that road, but that is one of the few that ever hit a moving vehicle," Van Horn said. "The guy was pretty upset. I think it ended up costing us about $400 for the windshield."
It was Father's Day and Van Horn said he'd yet to get a gift from his family. But he wasn't too worried.
"I saw something wrapped up in my wife's luggage," he said. "I know they've got something for me.
"I'm just excited to be here. This is where you want to be this time of year. If you are swimming or at a park right now, it's not too much fun."
John Clay Reeves signs autographs after practice Sunday afternoon.
Dave Van Horn works the Hogs in some base running drills.
Jake Wise and Derrick Bleeker wait their turn for batting practice.
Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated