Stretched-Thin Razorbacks Face Rested LSU

OMAHA, Neb. — LSU coach Paul Mainieri lay wide-awake in bed Wednesday night, unable to turn the TV off, captivated by Arkansas' extra-inning battle with Virginia. Glued to the action, Mainieri couldn't help but admire the effort being shown by the Razorbacks and Cavaliers.

Like most other baseball fans around the country watching, Mainieri didn't want the contest to end. The Tigers' coach may have held ulterior motives, however, in wishing the Hogs' 4-3 College World Series victory stretched beyond 12 innings.

"It didn't break my heart to see them have to use a lot of pitching, of course, but I'm sure (Arkansas will be) going on adrenaline now," Mainieri said. "I'm sure they'll show up. They'll have some pitchers left to pitch, and they'll present a formidable challenge without a doubt."

Mainieri may be conveying concern about the Razorbacks, but they certainly won't be operating at full strength when they meet LSU this afternoon in Omaha. Arkansas needs victories today and Saturday to make next week's best 2-of-3 championship series. The Tigers need only one win.

The Razorbacks (41-23) aren't completely out of pitching entering today's 1 p.m. game. Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn is giving junior closer Stephen Richards a rare start — his first this season. And he can turn to relievers such as Mike Bolsinger, T.J. Forrest and Zack Cox as the game progresses.

Still, there's no doubt LSU (53-16) holds a distinct advantage on the Razorbacks. Not only have the Tigers beaten the Hogs three of four times this season, they're well-rested, having not played since beating Arkansas 9-1 on Monday.

They will have No. 1 starter Anthony Ranaudo on the mound, as well — on five days rest.

"Obviously we would've liked to have been 2-0 (in the CWS) and had three days rest and been able to hang out while other people went into extra innings and used all their guys," Van Horn said. "I'm sure they're feeling pretty good and confident and rightly they should.

"They have a great team and have everyone available and know we're fighting it a bit. We have to play a special game."

The Razorbacks also must deal with the loss of senior Ben Tschepikow, who broke his left ring finger after being plunked in Wednesday's game. Van Horn said he'd adjust by playing freshman Zack Cox at shortstop, sliding sophomore Andy Wilkins to third base and putting sophomore Jacob House into the lineup at first.

Van Horn admitted the victory over Virginia drained his team of some much-needed energy. That's why he took the Razorbacks to the Strike Zone indoor baseball facility Thursday afternoon instead of practicing outdoors in 90-degree heat.

Even so, Van Horn said Arkansas doesn't "need to get over" the emotional win. To beat LSU, Van Horn said, the Razorbacks must remember the fight they showed Wednesday night, the kind of character that kept Mainieri's late-night attention.

"I think we just need to just keep rolling along and build off the excitement of that," Van Horn said. "A win like that can get you going a little bit. ... I don't think we're that tired. I think we're excited and glad we're still here."



WHEN: 1 p.m.

WHERE: Rosenblatt Stadium, Omaha, Neb.


ON THE AIR: KFAY-AM 1030; KURM-AM 790, FM 100.3; FM 103.1; KYNG-AM 1590; KHGG-AM 1580

RECORDS: Arkansas Razorbacks, 41-23; LSU Tigers 56-13

SERIES RECORD: LSU leads 48-22.

TONIGHT'S PROBABLE STARTERS: Arkansas, LHP Stephen Richards (6-1, 1.80); LSU, RHP Anthony Ranaudo (10-3, 3.03).

NOTE: Arkansas will be the home team tonight.

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