Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Razorbacks have tired arms, creaky catchers
University of Arkansas pitcher Jalen Beeks fires a pitch against Alabama at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville March 21.
FAYETTEVILLE - Pitcher Jalen Beeks, a fixture in Arkansas’ SEC rotation this season, might miss this weekend’s series against No. 20 Texas A&M.
Razorbacks Coach Dave Van Horn said Beeks, a junior left-hander from Prairie Grove who leads the Razorbacks with 76 2/3 innings and is 5-4 with a 2.11 earned-run average, appears to have a tired arm.
Beeks averaged 7 2/3 innings in five SEC starts before lasting 3 2/3 innings in the Razorbacks’ 7-4 loss at Ole Miss on Saturday. He allowed season-highs of 10 hits, 6 runs and 5 earned runs with 2 walks and 1 strikeout after Arkansas took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
“He says he’s fine, but to me it looked like he was a little bit tired,” Van Horn said. “His arm is bothering him a little bit.
“We’ll look at that and just see if we can figure out what’s going on and if he’s going to be ready to pitch this weekend or if we should skip him.”
If Beeks doesn’t pitch against Texas A&M, Van Horn said isn’t sure who would replace him in the rotation.
Van Horn said sophomore right-hander Trey Killian (2-8, 2.42 ERA) will continue to be the series-opening starter on Friday and junior right-hander Chris Oliver (6-4 2.87 ERA) will start Saturday’s game, moving from his spot as the No. 3 starter.
Sunday’s starter, Van Horn said, will depend on what other pitchers the Razorbacks use in the first two games. Sophomore left-hander Colin Poche (3-0, 1.60 ERA) and freshman right-hander Alex Phillips (3-0, 2.33 ERA) have a combined 15 starts in nonconference games.
Van Horn said he isn’t sure about the Razorbacks’ starting catcher this weekend, either.
Senior Jake Wise sustained a concussion in the first inning of Saturday’s game at Ole Miss and was replaced by redshirt freshman Blake Baxendale. Wise didn’t play Sunday while Baxendale started, but Baxendale left in the ninth inning with a hamstring injury.
Pitcher Jackson Lowery, one of the team’s emergency catchers, caught in the bottom of the ninth inning in the Razorbacks’ 11-1 victory.
Van Horn said he’s hopeful Wise and Baxendale, the Razorbacks’ primary designated hitter, both will be able to play this weekend.
Alex Gosser, a freshman catcher from North Little Rock, has been traveling to SEC road series, but Arkansas’ coaches hope to redshirt him. Van Horn said Gosser won’t play unless Wise suffers a season-ending injury.
Carson Shaddy, a freshman catcher from Fayettevillie, definitely will redshirt, Van Horn said.
Arkansas (30-20, 11-13 SEC) is fifth in the SEC West and has the conference’s ninth-best record. The Razorbacks are a game behind Texas A&M (30-19, 12-12), which won two of three games against LSU last weekend.
Arkansas, which finishes the regular-season at Missouri (20-27, 6-18), is mathematically alive to earn a first-round bye at the SEC Tournament and needs to finish among the top 12 of the conference’s 14 teams to make the SEC Tournament.
Of the other four teams behind Arkansas in the standings, Kentucky and Tennessee are 10-14, Georgia is 9-14-1 and Auburn is 9-15.
“We can still get to where we want to go,” Van Horn said. ” We just have to take care of it ourselves, and we know that.”
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M WHEN Friday, 6:35 p.m.
WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 30-20, 11-13 SEC; Texas A&M 30-19, 12-12
Sports, Pages 17 on 05/06/2014