Baum Crowd to Say Goodbye to Jackson, Stone & Phillips (maybe)

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Senior Arkansas relief pitchers Jackson Lowery, Jacob Stone and Lance Phillips have earned a lot of respect from Arkansas assistant coach Dave Jorn for the way they battled back after an unsettling start to the season. “When the season began they weren’t ready to make pitches and command the baseball the way they needed to,” Jorn said as the Hogs prepared for this weekend’s Tennessee series, the final homestand of the regular season. “They just kept pounding away and grinding it out and working and getting better.”

Lowery, a multi-sport athlete at Pulaski Academy, pitched at both Central Arkansas and Meridian Community College before transferring to Arkansas for his final two collegiate seasons. He will graduate and participate in senior’s day activities at Baum Stadium in the same weekend. “I’ll have to hustle over from the business college ceremonies to here (Baum Stadium) on Saturday,” Lowery laughed. “It should be a busy day. All that work (getting a degree) has already been put in so my focus is on baseball right now.”

Lowery redshirted his first season at Arkansas. “I had a lot to learn,” he admitted. “Coach Van Horn and I decided it would be best if I sat out that first year.” With his time in front of the home crowd nearing an end Jackson told the Razorback Nation, “It’s honestly sad to me. I love this place. I love this state. It’s the reason I came here.”

Lowery, Stone and Phillips don’t have the numbers of bullpen ace Zach Jackson but Jorn said they maximized their talents at times under difficult circumstances, like the 2.2 scoreless innings Lowery pitched in game two of the Texas A&M series as Arkansas came from behind to post a 9-8 win.

“We have those middle relief guys like Jackson Lowery who go out there and chew up some innings in the middle of the game and get it to the back end of our bullpen,” Stone said of his teammate, “which that’s a huge role to keep us in the game.”
   
So what was happening in non conference play and in Arkansas’ first two SEC series? “We struggled as whole,” Stone noted. “I think it was a matter of everybody figuring our our roles. Now we’re seeing the results of putting everything together. It’s been fun to watch.”

“We learned that no matter who we were playing the game’s the same,” Jackson added. “Just trust what coach Jorn’s been teaching us. A lot of us could do it in the bullpen (practice) but on the mound, in a game we started doing things that came more natural to us. Trusting what he’s taught us has been the biggest part.”

With the team starting conference play 1-5 the focus was on figuring out way just to make it to post season play. After winning six straight SEC series the Razorbacks are in the SEC tournament and all but assured of an NCAA regional bid. However, post season tournaments are a different animal with teams often stretching their pitching staffs by playing four and five games in a matter of days.  Jorn says Phillips is a good example of how the depth that has been developed during the season will help Arkansas in post season play.

“Lance Phillips has done a good job for us and he hasn’t seen the mound very much lately because the starters having been going longer and other relievers have been doing a good job,” Jorn noted. “Those post season games are going to be a real test of how our bullpen’s grown over the year and kind of show us what we’ve got there,” Phillips acknowledged. Still Phillips admits he would like a shot at contributing against Tennessee in what might be his final weekend at home: “It would be real nice. It would kind of top off a final memory of playing here at Baum Stadium so I’m really hoping to.”




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