FAYETTEVILLE — No. 8 Arkansas and No. 3 Texas Tech will open the 2021 season in Arlington’s Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers, in the State Farm Colllege Baseball Showdown tonight at 7 p.m.
Arkansas’ Dave Van Horn knows the Hogs will have their hands full tonight taking on the Red Raiders.
“Well, first off, they’re extremely talented,” Van Horn said. “I think they’ve got most of their team back, a couple of weekend starters and they have a couple of transfers. I think they’ve got a big lefty who transferred in from another four-year school. We’ve been told that’s who we see now. I can’t think of his name off the top of my head. It’s Texas Tech over the last four or five years. They’re going to come at you and they’re going to try to steal third base and steal and do things. They’ve also got some guys with some power. They play in a ballpark that likes guys that can hit it over your head and that’s what they recruit. They also have some guys that can run. They’ve got some power arms. A lot of teams do this year, they’re just older. I expect to get their best shot right out of the gate.”
The lefty is Patrick Monteverde who will take the mound for the Red Raiders tonight. He will face Arkansas’ Zebulon Vermillion, who is making the transition effort from closer to starter. Van Horn talked about the expectations for Vermillion as far as innings are concerned as his goal in preseason was five-plus innings.
“We feel like he has,” Van Horn said. “You have to build that up. If he only gives us three or four this first weekend, we’re good with that. We’ll just continue to build him up. I just want his innings to be quality. If he struggles going into the third or fourth inning, we’ll get somebody ready and get him when we need to go. If he rolls, we’ll let it roll. Zebulon, he’s a team player 100 percent. If he starts, he’s fine with that. If he ends up pitching at the end of the game, he’s good with that, as well. He’s going to be a big part of this pitching staff, that’s for sure.”
Van Horn will follow up with Peyton Pallette on Sunday against Texas and then Lael Lockhart on Monday against TCU. As with any season, they will be on a pitch count to begin the year.
“70-75,” Van Horn said. “Again, was that a tough 75? Were they just fighting it every inning or was it kind of a smooth three up, three down few innings, maybe one guy gets on here or there, or were they struggling a lot and got a double play ball? Were they struggling again and got another double play ball? You just have to evaluate what you see. The number does matter, but it’s did they really labor those pitches? If somebody struggled at 65, we’ll get him out. 75 would probably be about the max if it went well.”
This will be the 62nd meeting between the Hogs and Red Raiders, who were both members of the Southwest Conference. Arkansas leads the all-time series 46-15.
On Sunday, the Hogs will face No. 9 Texas at 7 p.m. with Pallette facing right-handed pitcher Tristan Stevens. Texas is another former Southwest Conference rival of the Razorbacks. This marks the 89th meeting of the two teams on the baseball diamond with the Longhorns leading the series 56-32. The Hogs have won five of the last six meetings between the two schools.
As with the other two opponents, No. 10 TCU is also a former member of the Southwest Conference. On Monday night, Lockhart will face left Austin Krob on the mound. This game will mark the 67th time the two teams have played and the Razorbacks hold a 47-19 advantage.
The four captains for the Razorbacks are Vermillion, right-handed pitcher Kevin Kopps, catcher Casey Opitz and center fielder Christian Franklin.
Arkansas is ranked in all the polls.
D1Baseball – No. 8
NCBWA – No. 8
USA Today Coaches – No. 8
Baseball America – No. 14
Perfect Game – No. 20
Collegiate Baseball – No. 22
All three of the Razorbacks’ games will stream live on FloBaseball, with Scott Galetti and former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Pat Combs on the call. Catch all the action from any web browser or via the FloSports app, which is available on iOS and Android or through your TV on Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast and Apple TV.
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