Ranked No. 11 this week by Baseball America, the Razorbacks appeared to be a tired team against the Commodores, possibly suffering from a mental and physical wear and tear put into the first eight weeks of the season. So when Arkansas hits the field today, getting some regulars even more time off will be just as vital as getting wins against the visiting Warhawks.
"I'll really try to mix up the lineups," Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn said. "Just like (Sunday), Ben Tschepikow was not even here. He's been throwing up and he's got stomach issues. So he'll probably get a day off on Tuesday and maybe we can get him going back on Wednesday. I mean, it's stuff that happens when you play this many games."
While some of the normal starters might be moved to the bench to preserve energy for a big Southeastern Conference weekend coming up at No. 8 Georgia, that doesn't mean Arkansas looks at this series against Louisiana-Monroe as any less important.
In fact, with the way the Hogs performed against Vanderbilt, Van Horn believes a good showing against the Warhawks is a must.
"We need to go out and play well. Win or lose, we need to play well," Van Horn said. "We need to swing the bats, pitch and play defense. Just play with more life and I think we will, after taking (Sunday) to rest then being able to practice after not playing."
Fresh off a three-game sweep of rival Louisiana-Lafayette, the Warhawks (21-12) appear to be one of the top teams in Sun Belt Conference this season. But unlike some of Arkansas' previous midweek foes, there will be no saving up of top pitchers when the Hogs come on the schedule.
"We know they're good. They just beat Louisiana-Lafayette three games in a row," Van Horn said. "So they've got some midweek guys that can get it done, because they're doing it and still winning in league play. They're not really saving people, they're just going out and playing. So it will be a good two-game series."
Brett Eibner (3-2, 3.18 ERA) will still start on the mound today for Arkansas against Monroe's Keith Christiansen (2-2, 5.05), but Eibner will be on a strict pitch count. Expected to start Sunday against Vanderbilt, Eibner will now also start this Sunday at Georgia.
Van Horn said while some position players will see time off, the midweek series will give his team an opportunity to get some pitchers much-needed work.
"We didn't get to throw Sam Murphy this weekend, so we'll get him some innings," Van Horn said. "We'll try to get (Mike) Bolsinger a couple of innings to stay sharper. He didn't have good stuff like normal (on Saturday). His velocity was down.
"(Stephen) Richards will need to throw a little bit, and we'll try to get a couple of our lefthanders in there to see what they can do probably on Wednesday."
Louisiana-Monroe at No. 11 Arkansas
WHEN: 6:35 p.m. today; 3:05 p.m. Wednesday.
WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville.
ON THE AIR: KFAY-AM 1030; KURM-AM 790M, FM 100.3; KHGG-AM 1580, FM 103.1; KXIO-FM 106.9.
RECORDS: Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, 21-12; Arkansas Razorbacks, 24-8.
SERIES RECORD: Arkansass leads 6-5.
LAST MEETING: Arkansas won 10-8 on March 17, 1999, in Monroe, La.
TODAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS: Louisiana-Monroe, Keith Christiansen (2-2, 5.05 ERA); Arkansas, Brett Eibner (3-2, 3.18 ERA).