Gentlemen First

FAYETTEVILLE -- First things, first.While every Arkansas baseball fan waits in high anticipation of what could be the biggest series of the year this weekend, the No. 9 Razorbacks aren't as lucky.

For the fans, this weekend's tussle with top-ranked Vanderbilt -- and its Player of the Year candidate in pitcher David Price -- is what the season is all about. For the Diamond Hogs, there's a little matter of getting through a team called Centenary first.

"We've got our hands full this weekend with Vandy," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "But first we've got to get through Centenary and then we can focus on Vanderbilt."

"We really need to go down and play well at Centenary. Sometimes when you have a midweek game before a big series, it's hard to focus on that midweek game. So our job as coaches is to make sure our guys stay focused and not start worrying about Vandy until Wednesday night."

Arkansas (16-6) was actually supposed to have to deal with a pair of midweek games prior to the big series with Vanderbilt. But with the Razorbacks over the 56-game limit on the original schedule, Van Horn asked Centenary (10-15) if the two-game series could be trimmed down to one.

"We had to drop a game and there were a lot of games we just couldn't drop," Van Horn said. "So we asked Centenary if they minded just playing us one game and we really appreciate them helping us out."

Dallas Keuchel (2-1, 3.55 ERA) gets the start for Arkansas in what Van Horn calls a "bullpen-type" start, with Keuchel and several others expected to get work. For the Gents, ace left-hander Brandon Fulenchek (4-2, 2.05 ERA) will get the nod.

"They've saved their best pitcher for us," Van Horn said. "So it will be a challenge."

A challenge the Razorbacks can't afford to overlook. Because no matter how big the hype gets with No. 1 Vanderbilt coming to town, it's first things first with Centenary.

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