Hogs, Shockers Meet In 2004 Rematc

FAYETTEVILLE -- Charley Boyce won't make the trip today, but the Arkansas pitcher is sure to be the topic of fan heckling during the No. 13 Razorbacks' game against No. 17 Wichita State at 7 p.m. in Eck Stadium.

Boyce threw 203 pitches on consecutive days to earn MVP honors in the Fayetteville Regional in 2004. He went 6 2-3 innings in a 4-3 loss against the Shockers on June 5 and, the following day, lasted 7 2-3 innings in a 4-3 win against the Shockers in the championship.

Afterwards, Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson expressed a difference in philosophy. The Shockers (21-5) have lost two of three games against Southern Illinois heading into today's game against Arkansas (20-5), which lost two of three games against Georgia over the weekend.

"Obviously, we are two different types of programs, OK," Stephenson said after the 2004 regional. "We would never pitch a guy like that, under any circumstances, for any victory. I don't care if it's for the national championship.

"You ask me about (Wichita starting pitcher Kyle Touchatt, who threw six innings in the championship), that's the longest he's gone all year ... and, uh ... You know we're going to take care of our guys. He's got a chance to have a future in this game."

That last comment was the difference, according to Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. Boyce, who sports a 4.0 GPA, told coaches he was fine between each inning and clearly wanted to stay in the game. He's a low impact pitcher who throws in the low 80s and doesn't have a future in the game past college.

The Razorbacks, of course, went on to beat Florida State in the NCAA Super Regional and advance to their first College World Series since 1989.

Nearly two years later, Van Horn said he hadn't talked with Stephenson, but understands where the 29-year coaching veteran was coming from with those comments.

"I think it was probably the heat of the moment that it all went down," Van Horn said. "When you look at it on paper, they had the team. They had all those kids back and I think four or five or six of those position players got drafted. That was a team that would have been a good representative in Omaha.

"I've been on that same side (at Nebraska) when I lost in a super regional at Stanford in Game 3. It's very frustrating and you're disappointed and sometimes you say some things you wish you could take back. But he said what he felt like saying and that's the way he is."

If he could do all over again, Van Horn wouldn't have changed a thing.

"In that situation, I'd do it again," Van Horn said. "If a young man wants to pitch and he's a guy that's really more of a college-type pitcher, I'm going to give him the ball."

Van Horn is unsure who he'll give the ball to start tonight's game. It'll be game-time decision between Shaun Seibert (2-0, 1.59) and James Gilbert (2-0, 0.61). Regardless of who starts, both are expected to see some innings against the Shockers. The entire staff will be available with the exception of weekend starters Boyce, Trey Holloway and Nick Schmidt, who also will not travel.

Brian Walker has been suffering from back problems for the past few weeks and will get a breather with Blake Parker starting at catcher. That means Logan Forsythe will start in Parker's place at third base and Stephen Robison will start at second base.

Parker, who has a stronger arm than Walker, will have his work cut out for him as the Shockers have stolen 68 bases in 82 attempts. To compare, Arkansas leads the Southeastern Conference with 47 stolen bases in 68 attempts.

Wichita State is expected to start left-hander Kris Johnson (2-0, 9.00), which is positive news for Arkansas since four of its five losses have came when a right-hander starts for the opposition. It's a contrast from previous years when the Hogs Achilles' heel seemed to come against left-handed pitchers.

"We've hit lefties pretty good, which is a good sign," Van Horn said. "We've got some pretty good right-handed hitters and even some of the lefties have hit the lefties pretty good. The right-handers have been the guys that we've seen that have just really been dominant.

"I think this is good they're throwing a lefty at us because we're going to face a lefty (Tennessee's James Adkins) on Friday. It just gives you a little more experience against that type of pitcher."

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