Back To The Diamond

FAYETTEVILLE --Arkansas has won more baseball games (30) than any team in the Southeastern Conference -- and only three others in Baseball America's Top 25 poll have won more -- but that's only good for a consolation prize.


The No. 14 Razorbacks still are a game back in the SEC Western Division standings behind Alabama (9-6) at the halfway point of the SEC schedule.

Arkansas will have to consider putting that fact on the back burner since it must now travel to Springfield, Mo., for a nonconference game against Southwest Missouri State at 7 p.m. today.

"It'll be a good thing if we win," said Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn. "I just wish we were playing at home."

The last time the Diamond Hogs played at home -- last Wednesday night -- they beat Southwest Missouri State 14-5.

"We've had two busy weeks," Van Horn said. "We've played five games a week for the past two weeks. In a way, that's good because we've got to play a lot of guys.

"And it's probably a good thing to play again soon. I'm sure once we get things going, it'll be a good thing and we can start focusing on playing (No. 20) LSU this weekend (at home). SMS is kind of a rivalry in the region because we recruit a lot of the same players and it's not that far away."

Arkansas is expected to go with either left-hander James Gilbert (3-0, 3.23) or lefty Devin Collis (2-0, 4.55) on the mound tonight.

Offensively, first baseman Danny Hamblin leads the Diamond Hogs with a .368 average, just in front of second baseman John Henry Marquardt (.365) and center fielder Craig Gentry (.357), who's been nominated for the SEC Player of the Week.

Gentry is having a star-spangled season. He broke a 22-year-old school record with 10 consecutive hits over a span of three games.

Gentry collected hits in his final three at-bats -- ironically against Southwest Missouri State last week -- and then went 4-for-4 on Friday night at Tennessee.

Gentry went .500 for the week (12-for-24) with a double, home run and five runs batted in. He also stole five bases in six attempts.

Clearly, the Razorbacks (30-8, 8-7 in the SEC) still are smarting from Sunday's 4-3 loss against Tennessee on the road.

That gave the Volunteers a 2-1 series win. Arkansas won the opener 4-1 on Friday, then lost 8-2 on Saturday.

"It's a battle every weekend in this league," Van Horn said. "That's just the way it is. Yeah, there's a lot of parity in the league this year. There are a lot good players and coaches, who prepare their teams well.

"It's still early, though. That's what we tell our players. You just have to go out and battle for each win. The first half has gone pretty much as I expected. Teams are just trying to battle to stay above .500."

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