Diamond Hogs Prepare

FAYETTEVILLE -- So much for Arkansas getting a break in between those tough Southeastern Conference baseball weekends.

At first, it appeared the Razorbacks would be able to breath a little easier during the middle of week as teams like Centenary and Northern Colorado filled up the schedule. But not anymore.

With Missouri Valley Conference powers Missouri State and Wichita State about to come on the schedule for a single game over the next three weeks, these midweek contests just took a big step up.

"The midweeks from here on out, it doesn't get any easier," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "It will be another big Tuesday night challenge (today) and we're going to do what we can to win."

Actually Wednesday night now because Tuesday's game was rained out.

The ninth-ranked Razorbacks -- who dropped three spots in the latest Baseball America Poll after losing twice to Mississippi State -- know victories won't come easy against the Bears or the Shockers. And with Van Horn saving top pitchers for the weekend and giving bench players a look in the lineup, the task gets even harder.

"We'll probably throw a few different guys on the mound and probably play a few different guys in the field," Van Horn said. "So it will be a challenge, but hopefully we'll play well and come away with a win."

Arkansas (25-10) plans to go with senior left-hander James Gilbert on the mound today in a 7:05 p.m. tilt with Missouri State at Baum Stadium. But don't expect Gilbert to be the only pitcher to see action. Other arms, like Evan Cox and Chad Pierce, could see the hill as well with the Diamond Hogs holding back the likes of Jess Todd out of the bullpen.

For the Bears (19-13), redshirt freshman Tim Clubb should get the pitching nod. A regular midweek starter for Missouri State, Clubb (4-0, 4.50 ERA) allowed just one run in seven innings last Tuesday in a 16-3 win against Southeast Missouri State. "This is a big week ahead," Van Horn said. "A tough game (today) and then a tough weekend after that."

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