Van Horn: Coaches Didn't see Sweep Coming

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn will open with Jalen Beeks in first game in California. Eric Fisher and Jake Wise need to provide offensive help.

testDave Van Horn said Arkansas coaches "didn't see it coming" on Saturday when South Alabama swept a doubleheader at Baum Stadium. It came after a 12-1 Razorback victory on Friday night that probably set up false expectations.

"We felt good about going 7-0 on Friday night and we got blindsided on Saturday," Van Horn told the Swatter's Club on Tuesday. "I'm sure South Alabama went back to their hotel and was not happy about getting whipped Friday.

"Our guys, probably thought Saturday was going to be fun, they were going to score a lot of runs. Obviously, that didn't work out. You can't change the mental side of it in two or three hours."

The Hogs finished the opening home stand with a 7-2 record, good enough for a No. 24 spot in the first USA Today Coaches Poll released this week. They play four games in three days at Cal starting with a 4:30 p.m. CST game with San Francisco on Friday. The Hogs face Tulane at 3:30 on Saturday. There's a doubleheader with Cal starting at 3:30 on Sunday.

Van Horn said he's studied the weather report for the San Francisco area. He most wants to be on the field Thursday afternoon for practice. The Hogs haven't been on the field for practice since Thursday of last week. They didn't play Sunday and Monday because of ice and snow on the field.

The Hogs lost a game to the weather with Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne on Monday. IPFW won't reschedule. Van Horn said there is a possibility of turning either the Grambling or Mississippi Valley games into doubleheaders.

"We've also called around to some teams in the area that lost a game this weekend," he said. "So far it hasn't looked good on any of those possibilities."

Van Horn said Jalen Beeks would start the opener this weekend. Chris Oliver is likely to follow. It could be that Colin Poche and Trey Killian get the Sunday starts. He's not sure of the opposition pitching.

"I think we will probably see two or three No. 1s," he said. "That's how it works, they line up their pitching against an SEC team. I don't know about Cal. They play Stanford midweek."

Van Horn provided an assessment of his team that went from good to not so good for Saturday's doubleheader. He was most concerned about a base-running mistake early in the Saturday opener by Michael Bernal that ended an inning.

"He put his head down (running through a stop sign) from second and tried to score on a push bunt," Van Horn said. "We had Brian Anderson on deck and it took us out of the inning. He was out by from here to there (pointing to a wall 45 feet away). We've had a little talk. Hopefully, we learn."

Van Horn said he's also had one-on-one with Poche, a sophomore lefty battling back from arm trouble. He's been effective in spurts with a 1.93 ERA, but also has had wild stretches.

"Poche is supposed to be a weekend guy," Van Horn said. "He may get a start. Does he deserve it? I don't know. He and I have had a talk."

Van Horn wants to see improved offense from first baseman Eric Fisher (.156) and catcher Jake Wise (.050). Wise has one hit in 20 at bats.

"Fisher is streaky and we need him to get hot and produce with runners in scoring position," Van Horn said. "With Fisher, it's not about batting average, but approach. He's got to put the bat on the ball with runner's in scoring position and less than two outs. Wise has to change his mindset, it's a confidence thing."

Wise gives the Hogs outstanding catching, but Van Horn wants some offense, too.

"It's true that I often say we just want him to catch," Van Horn said. "But we'd like him to hit a little bit."

Van Horn said redshirt freshman Blake Baxendale might get a couple of starts this weekend to try to get more offense in the lineup.

"We may split up the catching this weekend," Van Horn said. "We think we have a starting lineup, but we may get Clark Eagan in there, too. We need Fisher to get it going."

Van Horn said the starting pitching has been good, especially Beeks.

"I'm worried more about the bullpen," he said. "It's tough this weekend because we have four games, but the other teams are doing the same thing."

The Hogs worked for 75 minutes inside Walker Pavilion on Tuesday with their field covered in ice and snow over a tarp.

"We'll get the tarp off tomorrow and try to get at least some infield work," Van Horn said. "We want to get on the Cal field for practice Thursday and we'll get infield before our games four times. We just need to get on the field. Our (new indoor) building still doesn't have a roof."

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