BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Arkansas’ last regular season mid-week baseball game will happen in Central Arkansas instead of the Northwest corner.
The No. 6 Razorbacks (33-11, 14-7 in SEC action) will host Nashville-based Lipscomb (23-21) Tuesday night in a 6 p.m. game at North Little Rock’s Dickey-Stephens Park.
The game, which will not be televised, will be played at the home of the Arkansas Travelers, the Seattle Mariners’ AA affiliate.
Razorback head coach Dave Van Horn’s squad comes into the game off a three-game sweep of Texas A&M last weekend and ahead of a series at Mississippi State beginning Friday night.
“It’s fun playing there,” Van Horn said to the assembled media after a Swatter’s Club meeting on on Monday. “It always seems like the games are tight. The crowd’s amazing. They’re pretty loud, when we do something.
“And there’s been some times we haven’t done a whole lot. Some 2-1 games and not much going on. But I think the players, they don’t really love traveling in the middle of the week, but once we get there they’re glad we’re there and that’s kind of the way I look at it.
“I like playing there. It’d be easier to play at home. But I think that makes it easier for the fans in that part of the state to get there.”
Lipscomb was a late add this season’s contests for Arkansas, who was one game off this season from they were at this point last year at 34-10 and 14-7.
“The (North) Little Rock game is one of the last games we scheduled,” Van Horn said. “We didn’t schedule it until this past fall. We were kind of looking for the right date.
“We wanted it to be late to kind of let their field green up, because we’d played there one year and you couldn’t see the ball, because they don’t over-seed it, at least they haven’t in the past,” Van Horn said. “We wanted to go as late as we could. Then we just started scrambling on who we were gonna play.
“We put it out there, we started making some calls and it worked out for them, because they’re done with school. And they didn’t have a game this week. That’s what gives them an opportunity to drive over, spend the night and relax all day and then go play.”
Van Horn said he is likely to start Parker Coil, the last of three freshman pitchers that finished up Saturday’s 8-7 win over the Aggies.
“I think we’re going to start Coil and just let him go an inning or two,” Van Horn said. “Just to let him start. He needs to start. I mean, then after that, I’m not going to say it’s going to be scripted, but almost. Like an inning, two innings. Number of pitches. We’ve just got to do the best we can.”
Austin Ledbetter, who was not on last weekend’s 27-man roster, is likely to pitch on Tuesday per Van Horn.
“Yeah, he’ll get to pitch tomorrow night,” Van Horn said. “And he needs to pitch good. He needs to get it going. We need to get him out there and feel good about it. It would be big for him to give us some innings.”
Dylan Carter (6-0, 3.65), who has done a great job filling in for an injury-ravaged Razorback pitching staff, will not be an option.
The results from a second MRI on Monday would dictate whether Carter could be back in two weeks or so or lost for season per Van Horn.
Arkansas has a rash of injuries this season and will also be without injured starters Jared Wegner, Tavian Josebeger and Peyton Stovall for the Tuesday contest.
Stovall is dealing with an arm injury and has been doing so for “six to eight weeks” per Van Horn.
“The first time he’ll pick up a ball will probably be Thursday night or maybe game day Friday,” Van Horn said. “He’ll take ground balls. I don’t know if we’ll have him hit much. He’ll go with us [to North Little Rock] but he won’t throw or hit; he’ll just be there for the team.
“Hopefully we can get him right. He just wants to get healthy. He’s real frustrated.”
Wegner, who is hitting .351 and steal leads Arkansas in home runs (12) and RBIs (44) despite not playing but one inning defensively the past three weeks, will have his injured thumb re-examined next Monday and the surgically-inserted pins taken out.
He might be back for Arkansas’ series with visiting No. 3 South Carolina on May 12-14 or when the Razorbacks go to No. 4 Vanderbilt on May 18-20 for their regular season finale.
“This is what I was told — and he’s tough as nails, believe me — when he gets those pins out, it’s all up to him and how much pain he can tolerate,” Van Horn said. “I imagine he’ll be playing [next] Monday afternoon somewhere. I’m hoping he’ll be able to play that next weekend [against South Carolina], but if not, for sure the next one [at Vanderbilt].”
Lead off hitter and center fielder Josenberger (.322, 7 home runs, 27 RBIs, 9 steals in 12 attempts) hurt his hamstring at Georgia. He was seen running before a game this past weekend and could return sooner than later.
“Maybe not South Carolina, but probably for sure Vandy – we’ll see how it turns out,” Van Horn said. “That’s just the way it is physically for him. We’re working really hard to get it right.”
Peyton Holt is also battling an ankle injury and starting pitcher Hunter Hollan shin splints according to Van Horn.
“Hunter’s leg is bothering him,” Van Horn said. “Get’s a little more rest this week due to him pitching Thursday and then he won’t pitch again until Friday…It’s been bothering him a lot for a couple of weeks.”
Arkansas pitcher Brady Tygart injured his ulnar collateral ligament on March 1 and made a return to the mound last Friday in a 20-pitch scoreless first inning.
Van Horn note that Tygart will add an additional 15 to 20 pitches while starting this weekend and should be up to 60 pitches the following week.