Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Hogs’ Jorn pushing right buttons
Dave Jorn, pitching coach at the University of Arkansas, talks with the media Friday, Feb. 7, 2014 at the University of Arkansas baseball media day at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Regarding umbrage some take over all those University of Arkansas athletic department employees that recently appeared in a list of those exceeding $100,000 salary per year, omit Dave Jorn from the wrath.
Whatever the Razorbacks pay their pitching coach would be a big bang for their buck. Professors routinely turning out students as proficient in their studies as Jorn turns out proficient pitchers would be acclaimed from the Ivy League to Stanford.
This past weekend’s Arkansas pitching performances at Baum Stadium against a South Carolina Gamecocks team ranked No. 1 or 2 among the college baseball national polls is the latest tribute to Jorn’s might to bear arms.
Behind homegrown starters Trey Killian (Norfork via Mountain Home High) Jalen Beeks (Prairie Grove) and Chris Oliver (Farmington via Shiloh Christian High) the Razorbacks lost, 2-1 and won, 4-1 and 7-0. So in 27 innings the three starters and unscored upon relievers Michael Gunn and Zach Jackson allowed three runs to arguably the nation’s No. 1 or 2 team.
“All three starters were outstanding,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. “They gave us achance to win them all.”
Some wondered if these 2014 Razorbacks would be unarmed to win any much less many against South Carolina or other elite teams. From the staff that pitched Arkansas to the 2012 College World Series and in 2013 registered a nation-leading 1.89 ERA, the UA graduated to the pros Ryne Stanek, Barrett Astin, Randall Fant, Colby Suggs, Trent Daniel, Brandon Moore and Ty Wright.
Their departures elevated Beeks, a 2013 junior-college transfer reliever, and Killian and Oliver, both midweek starters/mopup men last year, to the weekend rotation this year.
That they were cast in subordinate roles didn’t make them subordinate pitchers, not with Jorn coaching them, senior Jake Wise catching them and Van Horn and former recruiting coordinator Todd Butler, now the first-year Wichita State head coach, recruiting them.
Knowing Jorn since both served together on retired Arkansas Coach Norm DeBriyn’s 1985 and 1987 College World Series staffs, Van Horn refers to Jorn as “THE best” pitching coach.
So do Jorn’s pitchers. Those who listen inevitably improve, says Killian, Beeks and Oliver while they continually improve.
“I thought some of the guys have matured and Coach Jorn has done a great job developing them,” Van Horn said. “Our pitchers get better.”
Like DeBriyn before him, Van Horn has the knack for recruiting and developing outstanding catchers that can make a good staff great.
Three-year starter Wise is the latest.
Beeks credited Wise with keeping him together as the defense otherwise fell apart with fourth-inning errors for South Carolina’s unearned run in Friday’s 4-1 game.
Wise credits the pitchers.
“Everybody was kind of questioning pitching staff and for me it was never really a question,” Wise said. “Just because they were really young didn’t mean we weren’t going to be as good. You can see most of the pitchers go the right direction.”
That starts with the pitching coach directing them.
Sports, Pages 18 on 04/07/2014