Razorbacks Rotation Bolstered

FAYETTEVILLE — If the last two games have produced anything for Arkansas baseball, it's proven the Razorbacks could use an extra arm or two on the pitching staff.

This weekend as Arkansas prepares to host Western Illinois in a three-game series — beginning at 3:05 p.m. today in Baum Stadium — some of that extra pitching help should return. While the Razorbacks have been shorthanded in the bullpen with illness and injury forcing Mike Bolsinger and Bryan Bingham out of action, the Hogs received some good news when they learned both pitchers are closer to returning than expected.

Bolsinger — a 6-foot-2 junior righthander who went 4-1 with a 3.73 earned run average a season ago — was being counted on to be in Arkansas' weekend rotation this season. But a case of mononucleosis forced Bolsinger to miss the first week of the season. Now, though, Bolsinger is back and is expected to start Sunday's 12:05 p.m. game against the Leathernecks (0-4).

"As you know we're getting thin on some pitching," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "But hopefully we can get some guys rested up and get some offense going for the weekend."

Bolsinger was believed to be out for four to six weeks with mono. But Van Horn said his illness was originally diagnosed in late fall, and now he's just finishing up with his healing period. As for Bingham, a rib cage injury sidelined the Navarro College transfer in the first week. But now it appears like he'll also be ready to return by the middle of next week.

"We just found out (Wednesday) that (Bolsinger) would be back," Van Horn said. "We would have pieced it together on Sunday if we needed to, but now we just need to get the bats going and get after them Friday and go from there."

Western Illinois was swept in a four-game series at Oklahoma on the opening weekend of the season. But Van Horn said the Leathernecks played the Sooners close at times.

"They played a couple of tight games early and then OU got after them late and scored a bunch of runs on them," Van Horn said. "That's really all we know. We've got some scouting reports on them but we were really just focused on trying to beat Kansas (Wednesday) night."

Arkansas (4-1) will throw junior T.J. Forrest (0-0, 2.25 ERA) in today's game, with Western Illinois expected to counter with John Sneegas (0-1, 3.60 ERA). The Razorbacks are then planning on using redshirt freshman Drew Smyly in Saturday's game before Bolsinger makes his first start on Sunday.



WEEKEND TICKET



WESTERN ILLINOIS AT NO. 21 ARKANSAS

WHEN: 3:05 p.m. today; 1:05 p.m. Saturday; 12:05 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

ON THE AIR: KFAY-AM 1030; KURM-AM 790, FM 100.3; KHGG-AM 1580, FM 103.1; KXIO-FM 106.9

RECORDS: Western Illinois 0-4; Arkansas 4-1

SERIES: Arkansas leads, 3-0

LAST MEETING: Razorbacks won, 12-6, on May 19, 2008 in Fayetteville.

TODAY'S PROBABLE PITCHERS: Western Illinois, John Sneegas (0-1, 3.60 ERA); Arkansas, T.J. Forrest (0-0, 2.25 ERA)

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