Hogs Brace For Tougher Pac-10 Opponent

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas' Andy Wilkins has an idea about the quality of baseball played in the Pac-10.

But he should know more about how the No. 21 Razorbacks stack up against that conference to the west after this weekend.

After opening the season with a three-game sweep of Washington State, Arkansas (7-1) will host its second Pac-10 opponent in three weeks.

But California (7-2) should pose more problems for the Razorbacks when the two conference contenders open a three-game series at 6:35 p.m. today in Baum Stadium.

"Washington State, they were a good club, but definitely Cal is probably the better team here," Wilkins said. "We've just got to come out with a little bit of fire, come out ready to play or else we're going to have it handed to us."

The Pac-10 has given Arkansas some headaches over the past few seasons. Arizona State swept the Razorbacks in a two-game series in Tempe last March, and Stanford ended Arkansas' 2008 season with a 5-1 win in the NCAA Regionals.

Even Washington State made things tough two weeks ago in Baum Stadium, losing three games by a combined five runs and coming within only a few minutes of getting a tie in the series finale.

Not surprisingly, Arkansas' players expect more of the same from Cal, which is riding a six-game winning steak and confident after last weekend's three-game sweep at Long Beach State.

This is only the second time the Razorbacks have faced the Golden Bears, the first coming when Cal eliminated Arkansas from the 1980 NCAA Regionals with a 7-1 in Tulsa.

"They're going to be a great team," Arkansas second baseman Ben Tschepikow said. "The Pac-10 has got a good conference, so we'll see what we're made of."

Over the first few weeks of the season, the Razorbacks have shown that they can do enough of the small things to pull out close wins. They've gotten solid pitching at times, come through when needed at the plate and won four games in a row since a 9-3 loss to Kansas on Feb. 24.

But Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn admitted that he's still not pleased with the hitting he's seen from his lineup. The Razorbacks are batting .283 as a team.

The only problem: Cal is hitting .336 and has three starters batting over .400.

"I think the offense is picking up, but it hasn't been real consistent with five, maybe six guys in order having a good game," Van Horn said. "It's been two or three (players) and it's been enough to win.

"... If we're going to win this weekend, we're going to have to swing the bat a lot better, one through nine."

After all, it's Arkansas versus the Pac-10 again.


WHEN: 6:35 p.m., today; 2:05 p.m. Saturday; 1:05 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville.

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

RECORDS: California 7-2; Arkansas 7-1.

SERIES: Arkansas lost 7-1 to California in the 1980 NCAA Midwest Regional, the only meeting between the two schools.

PROBABLE PITCHERS: California, Matt Flemer (1-0, 2.16 ERA); Arkansas, Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 4.50 ERA).

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