FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas fell to North Carolina State 6-5 on Saturday forcing a Game 3 today.
Arkansas won the opener 21-2 on Friday. The winner of today’s game will advance to the College World Series.
Here’s five thoughts from Saturday’s game.
Pitching Plan For Today
Dave Van Horn was asked about the pitching plan for today.
‘Yeah, we’re not 100-percent sure yet,” Van Horn said. “We’ll figure that out here hopefully in a little bit. But what we’ve been doing on a lot of Sundays. Mixing it up and trying to get to Kevin (Kopps).”
As far as Kopps could he go six or seven innings on Sunday?
“I think Kevin will show us what he can do,” Van Horn said. “What we need to do with him, if he gets tired or whenever we pitch him, we’ll go to the next guy. We’ve wait a little while and see if he can finish it. He threw really well for two innings. We’ll see how it goes [Sunday].”
Lael Lockhart was Saturday’s starter and only threw 38 pitches. Van Horn said he possibly could pitch some on Sunday.
“I would think so, for an inning or two,” Van Horn said. “I think he’s shown he can bounce back a little bit. He did it in the (SEC) Tournament.”
Christian Franklin’s Availability
Christian Franklin has Strep and didn’t play on Friday. Yesterday, after Braydon Webb started 0-2 Van Horn put Franklin in for the remainder of the game. He struck out both at bats. Will he be available today?
“Yeah, he was well enough to play today,” Van Horn said. “I told him kind of exactly what we were going to do, see how the game would go and probably put him in middle of the game. So I thought his at-bats, he fouled some pitches off and he was right on them coming off the bench cold so hopefully he’ll have a good day [Sunday].”
Charlie Welch is hoping Franklin is able to go today.
“It was great to have him back,” Welch said. “He was battling with some sickness, he still is. I think he’s really turned the corner, so having him back is great. He’s a threat at the plate. I think we all know it’s a matter of time for him.”
As a designated hitter in the Super Regional, Charlie Welch is 4-7 with two home runs and six runs batted in. Van Horn is obviously pleased with the way Welch is swinging the bat.
“He’s just helped pick up our lineup,” Van Horn said. “When guys are struggling or injured, he’s come through with some really big hits. Just another threat. He deepens our lineup. If we can get Christian back and we decide to stay with (Matt) Goodheart in the outfield, it deepens our lineup because then we can DH Charlie. If we can get through tomorrow, you might see it a few more times.”
Counting the home run against Nebraska in the eighth inning, Welch has now homered in three straight games.
“Really just the pitchers making more mistakes and leaving stuff over the plate,” Welch said. “I haven’t really changed anything, still trying to keep the same approach and hunt my pitches in certain counts. If they leave it over the plate, I feel like right now I can hit anybody. They just have to make a good pitch, and they haven’t. So, I guess that’s what has been going on.”
Jalen Battles Did It Right
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Arkansas shortstop Jalen Battles fielded a ground ball and got the runner out at first. On the play North Carolina State scored what would prove to be the winning run as they took a 6-2 lead. Could Battles have had a play on the runner at home?
“He would have been safe,” Van Horn said of Luca Tresh. “He was moving too far to his left. He would have to throw it sidearm off balance. They were running the contact play. It wasn’t like he waited to see where it went. He was moving and shuffling, and when the ball was hit, he was gone. If it been hit right at him, he would have been out by 10 feet. But it wasn’t. It ended up being the wining run.”
Brady Slavens Making Huge Progress
.Coming off an ankle injury suffered in the first game of the SEC Tournament, but against NC State he is 2-7 with a home run and double knocking in three runs.
It’s a real positive, because we need him to drive in some runs for us,” Van Horn said. “He fouled off a pitch or two, and then he got one over the plate and hit it out of the park opposite field, which is really good to see.
“I think his zone awareness is a little bit off right now from missing all those games, but hopefully each at-bat he’s getting better with that. It was really good too see him hit that ball, though.”