Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Van Horn: We’ve got to win series
Arkansas starter Trey Killian celebrates the final out during the Hogs' 2-1 come-from-behind win over Alabama Saturday, March 22, 2014, at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn made a tweak to the Razorbacks’ pitching rotation heading into what he called the biggest weekend of the year against No. 2 South Carolina tonight.
Van Horn’s decision to start sophomore right-hander Trey Killian over junior left hander Jalen Beeks has nothing to do with performance and everything to do with weather, workloads and the early series start to accommodate the ESPNU telecast.
Because of the cancellation of last Friday’s game at Mississippi State, both Beeks and Killian pitched in a doubleheader Saturday. Beeks threw 114 pitches over 8 innings, allowing 9 hits in a 4-0 victory over Mississippi State. Killian (1-4, 2.78 ERA) threw 75 pitches in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-1 loss to the Bulldogs in the second game.
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SOUTH CAROLINA AT ARKANSAS
WHEN 7 p.m.
WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville
RECORDS South Carolina 25-3, 6-3 SEC; Arkansas 17-11, 4-5 SEC
RANKINGS South Carolina is ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 2 by Baseball America and No. 3 by USA Today.
SERIES Arkansas leads 35-28
PITCHING MATCHUP South Carolina: Jordan Montgomery (LHP 3-2, 4.30 ERA). Arkansas: Trey Killian (RHP: 1-4, 2.78)
SHORT HOPS Arkansas moved normal Friday starter Jalen Beeks (4-2, 1.27) to the second game of the series after the left-hander threw 114 pitches last Saturday. … Killian has the Razorbacks’ best ERA (1.99) among starters in SEC games. … South Carolina has thrown 11 shutouts. … South Carolina’s only losses were to Ole Miss (6-4) and consecutive games at Kentucky (13-5 and 2-1). … Jimmy Dykes, Arkansas new women’s basketball coach, will throw out the first pitch for Friday’s game.
Van Horn wasn’t pleased with Mississippi State deeming Friday’s game a rainout before a system moved in, when the bad weather didn’t arrive until well after the game would likely have ended.
“We have to pitch somebody on short rest, big-time short rest, and I hope they respond and we can get through tomorrow,” Van Horn said after Wednesday’s 6-4 loss to Nebraska.
Arkansas (18-11, 4-5 SEC) has split all its SEC series 2-1, losing at Florida and Mississippi State and beating Alabama at Baum Stadium.
“I mean, we’ve got to win the series,” Van Horn said. “We just need to get over the hump a little bit. We’ve got to start scoring runs.”
South Carolina (25-3, 6-3 SEC), which started 16-0 and has lost only one series - at Kentucky - will throw junior left-hander Jordan Montgomery (3-2, 4.30 ERA) tonight. The Gamecocks will be looking to turn the tables after being swept by the Razorbacks last season by scores of 15-3, 4-2 and 5-3 in Columbia, S.C.
“They manhandled us last year, there’s no doubt about that,” South Carolina Coach Chad Holbrook said. “We’re not coming in here trying to think about what happened last year. … If we’re worrying about what happened last year at this time, we’re going to get our tail kicked.”
The Hogs and Gamecocks have played regular-season series each of the past six years, splitting them with three series victories each, and added a three-game sequence at the 2012 College World Series which the Gamecocks took 2-1. Arkansas leads the series 11-10 since 2008.
“Every time we play them the games are good.
There’s not a lot of chit-chat going on,” Van Horn said. “You just play the game they way you’re supposed to.”
Holbrook agreed that there is a mutual respect between the teams.
“We play the game similar to the way they play it and there’s not much chatter going on back and forth,” he said.
“It’s a respect factor.”
The Razorbacks know South Carolina has been hot all season.
“They always put together a good squad,” Arkansas outfielder Joe Serrano said. “I feel like there’s a little bit of blood in the water, especially because we swept them last year. They’re looking for vengeance.
“The best way to combat that is get after them early and show them that we’re not scared that you’re ranked second. We’re here to play, and you’re on our home court.”
Sports, Pages 19 on 04/03/2014