Its not the novelty that it once was, but it’s still newsworthy when the Razorback baseball program plays an in-state school.

No. 5 and SEC Western Division-leading Arkansas (25-6, 8-4) will do just that the next pair of Tuesdays as it sandwiches games with Little Rock and UCA around a weekend series with visiting Tennessee.

The Razorbacks, will host the Trojans (17-11) Tuesday night at 6:30 and Wednesday at 4 p.m.

“I’ll definitely play guys. I’ll play everybody in the next two games. What I mean, some guys that haven’t played much will play at least one game and maybe two.

“…We need to maybe give your starting catcher (Parker Rowland) a rest and one outfielder here, an infielder there and get some of these players that work hard every day a little chance to play if we can do that.

“But bottom line, I want to try to win the game. Every game is a big deal to me because this is what I do. But not going to go crazy trying to win them. I don’t want to jeopardize having our guys ready for Friday.”

That includes his pitchers, including some young ones expected to fill some innings, that they did not get a chance to do when last Tuesday night’s scheduled game with Arkansas State was canceled due to expected weather.

Arkansas is scheduled to start lefty Cody Adcock (2-1, 6.66 ERA) on Tuesday against Little Rock southpaw Chance Vaught (1-1, 7.53 ERA) while Razorback righty Ben Bybee (2-0, 4.41 ERA) is slated for Wednesday while the Trojans opener is left to be determined.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Van Horn said. “I want to win the games, but at the same time, we’ve got a quick turnaround. We play, what is it, Tuesday and Wednesday, and bang, you’ve got Thursday and then you play Tennessee on Friday.

“We have to be smart with our pitching. We’re going to have to have some guys go a little longer that maybe haven’t pitched much and just leave them out there. Hopefully we can win a game or two.”

Little Rock will come into the contest on a four-game winning streak, having swept a three-game home series with Tennessee-Martin after downing Louisiana-Monroe last Tuesday.

The Trojans are led by former Arkansas assistant Chris Curry, who worked under Van Horn in 2009 and 2010 and has been the Little Rock head coach for nine seasons.

“Yeah, he coached with us a couple years, did a great job,” Van Horn said. “I knew he’d be a really good head coach. He’s proven me right and he’s done a really good job down there in Little Rock.”

Arkansas comes into its mid-week games after taking two of three at struggling defending national champion.

Razorback third baseman Caleb Cali, who had a pair of home runs in Oxford, believes winning the Ole Miss series will aid his club this weekend.

“Obviously, it’s big for the momentum going into next weekend,” Cali said. “It’s good for the team morale. Everyone is good in this league, and we’ve kind of figured that out pretty quickly. Other than that, it’s just good for us to win this series going into another big one next weekend.”

Freshman relief pitcher Gage Wood, whose closed out the series finale with a three-inning save, echoed that same sentiment.

“I totally agree with him.” Wood said. “I really feel like this is going to keep us going in the right direction and really motivate us to come back and do the same thing next weekend against Tennessee.”

Photo by John D. James