BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
An Arkansas baseball team that has won eight straight games will be up against a well-rested UNLV squad for a pair of mid-week games ahead of opening SEC action.
The Razorbacks (13-2), ranked No. 6 in the latest USA Today poll, will host what UNLV calls the Hustlin’ Rebels (5-8) Tuesday night at 6 p.m. and Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m.
UNLV’s three-game series at Cal Poly this past weekend was canceled due to bad weather in the San Luis Obispo area so they just practiced in Las Vegas.
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn’s team swept three games with visiting Louisiana Tech over the weekend while continuing its 18-game home stand.
“I just told the team, you’re going to play a team that’s talented and they can score,” Van Horn said. “And now they’ve got their whole pitching staff available. So I think they may be in league play this weekend.
“But if they don’t start their 1, 2 and 3 at us, those guys will have mid-week bullpens if you know what I’m saying.”
Arkansas, who hosts Auburn (12-3-1) this weekend, is set to start freshman lefty pitcher Parker Coil (0-0, 6.75 ERA) Tuesday against UNLV righty Joey Acosta (1-0, 5.87).
The Rebels have right hander Jordan Hanson (0-0, 4.86) slated for mound duty on Wednesday while the Razorbacks have not announced a starter.
“It’s going to be a big challenge,” Horn said. “I’m planning on mixing up our lineup a little bit the next few days and getting some guys in there and we’re going to try to win some games.”
Arkansas is 1-4 all-time on the diamond against UNLV with the last meeting occurring in 2014 when the two teams split a pair of midweek games in Fayetteville.
It will the Razorbacks’ first five-game week of the season with games against the Tigers Friday at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at 2 p.m and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Auburn, who lost two of three to visiting Southeastern Louisiana Friday through Sunday, hosts Georgia Tech on Tuesday.
“We’re going to take one game at a time, obviously,” Van Horn said. “But we’re not going to throw guys that we’re going to need maybe a couple of times on the weekend.
“If we do it might be for a hitter or an inning. We’re going to have to have some guys step it up this week.”
Arkansas has shown great plate discipline this season with 89 walks and 19 hit batters so far this season with 99 strikeouts.
The Razorbacks took 12 walks in Sunday’s win over the Bulldogs with Jared Wegner (15 walks, 1 hit batter and 10 strikeouts) drawing five free passes and three being issued to Tavian Josnberger (11 walks, 1 HBP and 10 whiffs).
“Well, it’s big,” Van Horn said. “We’re doing a pretty good job as far as the free passes compared to the strikeouts,, and that includes…that’s walks and hit-by-pitches.
“We’ve got some guys — I know Jared’s way, way, four, five or six ahead on free passes to strikeouts, maybe more than that — and I think Josenberger’s right up in there.
“There’s a lot of guys that if you can keep that stat close to even throughout the season, you’ve got a really good offensive team.”
Photo by John D. James