Friday in NW Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Lance Lynn is starting tonight here in Northwest Arkansas. No kidding.

He won't actually be suiting up for the Rebels, obviously. The former Rebel ace will be just a few miles up the road in Springdale starting for the St. Louis Cardinals' AA team, the Springfield (Mo.) Cardinals, against the local AA team, the Arkansas Naturals.

As quickly as he's gotten to AA, is AAA Memphis in his future? Or how about a jump straight to the big club up in St. Louis?

The big righty has pitched 10.2 innings this season with Springfield with a 1-0 record and a 1.69 ERA.

It speaks to the growth of this area of the state of Arkansas that 6,000 showed up for a Razorback baseball game and 4,000 for a AA game. On the same night. Within just a few miles of each other.

I'm guessing the AA team has hurt the Razorback crowds some. Thursday night wasn't the attendance I expected for game one of Rebels and Razorbacks. The Hogs had lost five SEC games in a row prior to last night, so that was a contributing factor.

That the AA Naturals play up the road here in Metro Wal-Mart country has to also be a reason.

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Logan Power said he thought the Rebels weren't bad offensively Thursday night in their 7-5 win. The fact that they got all their runs by the third inning wasn't anything to panic about.

"It just seemed like we couldn't get the big hit after the third inning," Power said. "I thought we swung it well. We just let the pitchers do the work."

It wasn't like the Rebels didn't hit the baseball. They got 11 hits on the night. They simply took advantage of the opportunities when presented to them. And in this case, that was early.

Power had a good view of Collin Kuhn's two-out near homer in the bottom of the ninth. The Rebels led by two; the Hogs had a man on base.

Kuhn sent one deep that curved at the right field foul pole. Power gave a swing of the arms toward the umpire to make sure he was going to call it foul.

Whether Power really helped or not, he wanted to make sure he helped the ump's effort.

"Where were y'all sitting?" asked Power after he was asked by media members if it was fair or foul.

"When he hit it, I didn't think it had enough to get out," Power said. "It just sliced foul. I had a bad angle. It was pretty close."

Thankfully for the Rebels, it was indeed foul. Kuhn then flew out to Jordan Henry in center field to end the game.

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In today's local Morning News, Clay Henry, a veteran Arkansas sports writer and our Scout.com counterpart here with Hawgs Illustrated, gave his predictions for Razorback football this fall. He said they'd go 7-5.

As for the SEC West, Henry wrote, "Some days I pick Alabama. Others it's LSU. Those appear to be the two most talented teams in the division. Ole Miss has the best returning quarterback, but took some graduation hits in the lines, a strong point for the Rebels last season."

Henry thinks the Hogs will win three or four SEC games.

"The SEC victories will probably come from Auburn, South Carolina, and Mississippi State," he wrote. "If things go well, Ole Miss might be another victim. The Rebels didn't exactly hammer the Hogs last year."

Even amidst an important SEC baseball series, the last regular season weekend of the campaign, football is still a hot topic here as it is all over the SEC.

Henry's father, Orville Henry, was a longtime respected sports writer in Arkansas as well. Back in the old Southwest Conference days, he said his dad always predicted the Hogs to go unbeaten.

"Give ‘em what they want," is how Clay said his dad approached talking to Razorback fans about an upcoming season.

Clay said he isn't quite as glowing in his prognostications as his father was back then.

"I've never predicted a perfect season in the 18 years Hawgs Illustrated has been alive," Clay wrote today. "But perhaps that is because the Razorbacks have been playing in the SEC all of those years.

"As my father preached to me," he continued, "playing in the SEC is like seeing Texas every week."


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