State of the Hogs: Plans for LSU

Dave Van Horn has some ideas on how to go after LSU at the College World Series. He'll try a new starter and a twist in the infield alignment.

Dave Van Horn admits Arkansas' 4-3, 12-inning victory over Virginia in the College World Series will "never" be forgotten.

But sometime around midnight — after handling media room duties for an hour after the game — the Razorbacks skipper had to switch his thoughts to LSU. It didn't take him long to know he had to find some offense.

While everyone else was wondering who Van Horn would pitch against the Tigers, his plan called for more bats in the lineup. With three-hole hitter Ben Tschepikow out at shortstop with a broken finger, Van Horn knew what he had to do.

"We know we have to score some runs," Van Horn said. "It's 92 and windy (Thursday) and it's going to be a lot like this tomorrow. We need to get all the bats we can find in the lineup."

That means Zack Cox, likely to pitch at some point Friday, will move from third base to shortstop. Andy Wilkins will move from first to third base. That will allow Jacob House, who had two hits against the Tigers on Monday, to play first base.

"Cox played a lot of short in high school and we've worked him there," Van Horn said. "We'll probably still need Tim Caver at short at some point (when Cox pitches). He's ready to go, too.

"We had to make some moves. We need to loosen things up. It's a fun thing. We are not trying to do off-the-wall things, but we need to do something to score more against them. Unfortunately, Ben broke his finger and we are going to have to scramble a little bit."

LSU has held the Arkansas bats in check three straight times after the Hogs won the opener of a three-game set in Fayetteville. The Hogs have scored a total of four runs in those last three outings against the Tigers.

More than the lineup changes, Van Horn wants an attitude change to fight the Tigers. Yes, he is going to open with a left-handed starter, pulling Stephen Richards from the pen for his first start of the season.

"We are going to try to cross them up," he said. "They don't like left-handers.

"But the main thing, we have to be tougher than LSU. That's what we need most."

Obviously, the Razorbacks were plenty tough Wednesday night against Virginia. The Cavaliers are extremely talented, but the big stage might have gotten them rattled. They made crucial mistakes on the basepaths that allowed Arkansas to stay close until Brett Eibner's two-run blast tied it in the top of the ninth.

"We keep calling ourselves the Fightin' Razorbacks. And, we fought last night. I think the way the game went, all the moves, the way we fought, that was fun. We always knew that we've won games like that, a lot early in the year. We knew we'd come back on everyone.

"I think you have to have a lot of ‘want to' in games like this. We do compete. I think when you see a guy like Dallas Keuchel, a player who was drafted high, come in and pitch like that, it tells you the team will compete. He didn't want to let his teammates down."

That's exactly the personality Van Horn exudes. No doubt, this is an example of a team taking on that characteristic.

"As a coach, you try to develop that," Van Horn said. "It was a tough situation and I told them after the game that it is exactly the kind of toughness that is going to help all of them further on in their lives.

"As a coach, this is one I'll never forget."

Meanwhile, Dave Van Horn is pushing a few more buttons trying to give everyone something else to remember about the College World Series.

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