Diamond Hogs Put Past In The Past

FAYETTEVILLE -- Last week was not the best of times for the Arkansas baseball team.

First, it lost two of its best players to suspensions then dropped its second-straight Southeastern Conference series over the weekend to Auburn on the road.

Clearly, Hogs boss Dave Van Horn could finally use some good news.

He's hoping it comes this week when the No. 14 Razorbacks return home, starting at 7:05 p.m. today against Northern Colorado in Baum Stadium.

Arkansas also plays the Bears again at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday.

Arkansas continues its homestand with a SEC series against Vanderbilt, starting Friday.

Last week started on a sour note when it was learned Arkansas' top two hitters, center fielder Casey Rowlett (.473) and second baseman Scott Bridges (.410) were suspended indefinitely for violations of team policy.

Apparently there's an appeals process in motion.

"I don't really know, I've been out of town and I just know that's what's going on," Van Horn said. "Honestly, I haven't talked to anybody today (Monday). I didn't talk to anyone over the weekend.

"I don't really know where it's at. What's going on is what's going on. I'm trying to separate myself and try to get our team that we have now ready to play."

Arkansas sends left-hander James Gilbert to the mound tonight to start the Northern Colorado series. He is 3-0 with a 2.83 earned run average. He's worked 28 2/3 innings.

Van Horn freely admits he doesn't really know a lot about Northern Colorado (9-22), but knows it's not a gimme.

"No, I don't know a lot of about them," Van Horn said. "I do know their head coach Kevin Smallcomb was a graduate assistant for (former Razorbacks coach Norm) DeBriyn a few years ago (1989-90).

Three years ago, Northern Colorado, who was a national power in Division II, promoted itself to the D-1 ranks.

This season they have played an incredible schedule with three-game series at Arizona, Nebraska and Creighton.

"What we are going to see from them on Tuesday and Wednesday is they aren't scared, they aren't intimidated. They've been there, done that. They don't have a lot of wins," Van Horn said. "It's real scary, they are a team that can beat you if you don't do well."

Van Horn hinted Arkansas (22-6) will use a variety of players in this two-game series with Northern Colorado, which has won five of its last seven games, and against maybe even against Vanderbilt this weekend.

"We'll try to get a lot of different guys in there that haven't played a lot," Van Horn said. "Of course, we don't have as much depth as we did at the start of the season.

"I think you'll see (junior right-hander) Charley Boyce in a different role. We could use him a lot. Maybe pitch three or four innings."

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