Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A two-time graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Poche to start, Ficociello questionable vs. Aztecs
Arkansas pitcher Colin Poche fires a pitch during the first game of Tuesday afternoon's doubleheader against New Orleans at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas will start left-handed pitcher Colin Poche in Thursday's series opener against San Diego State.
Poche, a freshman, has a 0.00 earned run average in 7 1/3 innings this season. The Razorbacks will throw right-hander Ryne Stanek on Friday, right-hander Trey Killian on Saturday and left-hander Randall Fant on Sunday.
Arkansas (7-5) enters the series coming off four straight losses to Arizona State (twice), Gonzaga and Pacific.
"it's good to be back," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Last weekend was an incredible learning experience for the entire team and probably the coaches as well. We learned a lot about the team and what we need to work on. It's better for that to happen in nonconference than to go on the road and get whipped in league play when you haven't been on the road.
"We're confident we can turn it around, but when you face a team like San Diego State you have to elevate your game."
The Razorbacks could be without second baseman Dominic Ficociello this weekend as he continues to struggle hitting from the left side of the plate.
Ficociello, a switch-hitter, strained an oblique muscle in the preseason. San Diego State (7-5) is scheduled to start right-handed pitchers Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with Sunday's starter to be determined.
"He hasn't been able to swing left-handed and he won't be able to this weekend, so I don't know if he'll play at all," Van Horn said.
"We're going to see two or three SEC weekend starters as far as talent."
Ficociello saw his first playing time of the season last weekend in Surprise, Ariz., going 3-for-10 at the plate in three starts. Jacob Mahan, who is batting .250, has started seven games this season at second base in place of Ficociello.
Ficociello led Arkansas with a .335 batting average two years ago before falling to .290 last season. He said last week he has practiced bating right-handed against right-handed pitching, but has not done so in a game since high school.