Arkansas set to battle Missouri St.

FAYETTEVILLE -- After getting two ninth inning home runs to complete a comeback win over Tennessee on Sunday, Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn admitted he was dreading going to Monday's Swatter's Club meeting had the Razorbacks lost.

But a day after the Razorbacks completed their first SEC series win this season, Van Horn was all smiles at the meeting.

Van Horn hopes the positive momentum continues today when the No. 12 Razorbacks go outside the Southeastern Conference to host Missouri State. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. in Baum Stadium.

It's the first of two games this season against the Bears and the second straight season Arkansas (23-6) has played the Bears (15-9) home-and-home.

"We're so close to each other," Van Horn said. "It's tough to get teams to come in and play us at home and I think (Missouri State) has the same issues a little bit, so we just decided to play home and away.

"Them getting a new ballpark makes it nice for our players to play in such a great facility and they do get to come to our ballpark and play in this great facility."

Last season, the Razorbacks swept the series, winning 14-5 in Fayetteville and 9-4 in Springfield, Mo. The Razorbacks will travel to Missouri State for the return trip April 11.

The Bears are on a roll, winning five straight, including sweeping their Missouri Valley Conference opening series against Evansville last weekend. After two low-scoring games, Missouri State won a slugfest 11-9 on Sunday.

Left-hander James Gilbert will get the start today for the Razorbacks. Gilbert also started Arkansas' nonconference game last week at Wichita State.

"I think we'll probably throw a little bit of everybody," Van Horn said.

Van Horn said he still had confidence in reliever Daryl Maday despite a rocky outing on Sunday. Maday gave up two home runs in the eighth inning before settling down to retire the last four batters he faced, striking out three.

Although one of the home runs came on a pitch Maday left up in the zone, the other was below the hitter's knees, Van Horn said.

"He's throwing a slider better than we've ever seen him throw it," Van Horn said. "So I'm not too worried about Daryl."

Freshman pitcher Brett Bollman will likely be among the pitchers to see action, Van Horn said.

Missouri State has been vague about who would start today, saying it would send either right-hander Jake Shafer or lefty Chris Mackey to the mound.

Although Van Horn said he wouldn't know what the lineup would look like until he found out who was starting for Missouri State, he said he would try to get some players at-bats in the game, including Clint Arnold and Blake Parker. Parker will likely start at catcher.

"I'd really like to see Blake's bat continue to get better like it did this past weekend," Van Horn said. "We want to try to play some guys who need to play, but we're not going to just try to get guys at-bats because they need to get at-bats, or throw a guy an inning because he needs to get an inning. We're going to try to do what we've got to do to win the game."

Van Horn doesn't have to tell his team that longballs will likely be much less plentiful tonight.

"We've played with the wind blowing in so much this year and had to manufacture runs and we've hit balls that would've gone out," he said. "It's probably not a factor. ... Usually the win doesn't blow out once the sun goes down as much as it does during the day."

A pair of former Razorbacks are on the Bears' roster, though neither play much. John Findley, who started three games for the Razorbacks in 2003, is a senior, but has seen no action this year. Sophomore catcher Jerrod White joined what was then Southwest Missouri State after spending fall 2004 at Arkansas. White has just seven at-bats this season.

Also at the Swatter's Club meeting Monday, Van Horn said sophomore right-hander Justin White's playing days were over. White started eight games as a freshman before undergoing Tommy John surgery last February. His rehabilitation has been slowed by various other injuries since.

"He wants to be able to play catch with his kids when he gets older," Van Horn said. "He'll be the manager or something. He'll be around the team until he graduates."


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