Arm problems with projected Friday night starter Isaiah Campbell left Razorback baseball coach Dave Van Horn scrambling to put the right people on the mound at the right time during Arkansas’ just completed five-game road trip to Louisiana and Texas.
Campbell’s only appearance this season came back on February 25 in the Hogs’ 13-7 win over Bryant. The sophomore right-hander, who had been resting a sore arm in the pre-season, took the mound in the 7th inning with Arkansas leading 11-0. He promptly gave up 3 runs on 3 hits with one strike-out and one walk in 2/3 of an inning of work. Van Horn removed Campbell and he has not been back on the mound since.
“If he’s got something going on in there that is just going to keep bothering him that has to get fixed and if he’s not going to pitch this year then he might as well get it fixed,” Van Horn told reporters on Monday.
Van Horn used 16 different pitchers, some of them more than once, in two games against Louisiana Tech and single games with Arizona, Nebraska and Oklahoma State. Those pitchers had an ERA of 4.6 in the five games as the Hogs went 2-3 on the trip.
Asked how Campbell’s absence has affected his pitching decisions Van Horn thundered, “Well honest to God it’s been huge. I mean, you lose your number one guy? It has a ripple effect because all of the sudden it pushes some guys a little farther up when they’re not ready. Isaiah’s a guy, we got him ready for this year by pitching him on Friday and Saturday the last few weekends of last season and the reason I did it was to get him ready for this year.”
The head Hog will pull Dominic Taccolini out of the bullpen and give him the start in Tuesday’s mid week match up with Louisiana-Monroe. If he pitches well in that role Van Horn indicated that the senior right-handed pitcher could end up in the spot originally intended for Campbell this season.
Sophomore right-hander Barrett Loseke is also in the mix as a possible replacement for Campbell after striking out 7 in 4 innings against Louisiana Tech last Wednesday.
“The stuff he threw in those four innings was really good” Van Horn said of Loseke. “The fast ball was electric. He went through a line-up that can hit a couple of times. Older kids with some speed and some power. He started throwing that breaking ball and a few change-ups. He just showed me a little bit of an attitude and a lot of grit there that I really liked.”
Loseke’s work on the mound helped his teammates to stage a huge comeback in the game. Arkansas scored 12 unanswered runs after trailing 10-1 in the second inning. Van Horn said the rally provided a stark contrast to what happened all too often in 2016, the only losing season in his 13 years at Arkansas.
“We had some older guys who really stepped in and provided some leadership,” Van Horn noted. “I didn’t see any quit in them so that was exciting for me to see because if you’re comparing last year and this year, I didn’t see that last year.”
At 8-3 on the season and sporting a top 20 RPI, the Diamond Hogs are back in Fayetteville for an 11 game homestand.