Hogs to test young hurlers

By: Bob Holt
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Arkansas pitcher Patrick Wicklander throws during a game against Eastern Illinois on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas pitcher Patrick Wicklander throws during a game against Eastern Illinois on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas baseball team has won its first road series after going 0 for 5 last season.

Arkansas, which plays Memphis at 3 p.m today in Baum-Walker Stadium, took two of three games last weekend at Southern California to win its first road series of the season.

Today’s game

NO. 12 ARKANSAS VS. MEMPHIS

WHEN 3 p.m.

WHERE Baum-Walker Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS Arkansas 5-1; Memphis 2-4

SERIES Arkansas leads 25-13-1

STARTING PITCHERS Memphis: LHP Denny Denz (0-0, 6.75 ERA). Arkansas: LHP Patrick Wicklander (0-1, 6.23 ERA)

RADIO Razorback Sports Network

TELEVISION None

INTERNET SEC Network-Plus

THE WEEK AHEAD

TODAY Memphis, 3 p.m.

THURSDAY Off

FRIDAY Stony Brook, 3 p.m.

SATURDAY, Stony Brook, 3 p.m.

SUNDAY, Stony Brook, 1 p.m.

MONDAY Off

TUESDAY UNC-Charlotte, 3 p.m.

Last season, the Razorbacks were 6-13 on the road and lost series at Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU and Georgia.

"Maybe people won't talk about it -- 'You guys haven't won a road series in forever,' " Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. "I think it's great we knocked it out early, and now we don't have to really talk about it."

Arkansas (5-1) beat USC 6-3 and 8-6 before the Trojans won the finale 6-4 in 10 innings.

"Overall as a team, I thought we competed extremely well with a really good, well-rounded baseball team," Razorbacks sophomore shortstop Casey Martin said. "Just proud of how all the freshmen and younger guys that didn't have much experience stepped up, and it showed us a little bit of who we are.

"Now we know we can win on the road and that's a big-time confidence boost."

Freshman left-hander Patrick Wicklander (0-1, 6.23 ERA) will start for No. 12 Arkansas (5-1) today against Memphis junior left-hander Denny Denz (0-0, 6.75 ERA).

Wicklander has 6 strikeouts in 4⅓ innings, but also 2 walks and a hit batter.

Van Horn said Wicklander, who is from San Jose, Calif., probably was nervous pitching in Los Angeles in front of family and friends when he was wild in his first appearance against the Trojans. He threw better in his second game in Los Angeles, and in his first inning for the Razorbacks the previous weekend struck out the side on 10 pitches against Eastern Illinois.

"I think he'll throw well," Van Horn said. "First of all, he's a tough kid and he wants the ball. He's used to having a lot of success. He was one of our top recruits as far as pitchers.

"He's shown us what he can do. We don't expect him to pitch very long [today]. We just want to give him a start, and maybe he goes two or three innings."

Van Horn said he'd like to use some other freshman pitchers -- possibly Jacob Burton, Liam Henry, Caden Monk or Evan Taylor -- in today's game along with sophomore Zeb Vermillion.

If needed, the Razorbacks could use olders pitches such as juniors Kevin Kopps and Kole Ramage.

Today begins a stretch of 11 nonconference games in 15 days for the Razorbacks before they open SEC play against Missouri on March 15.

"We've got to get these guys out there," Van Horn said of using the younger pitchers against Memphis. "If we get into trouble, we could go with one of our older guys.

"We're just going to take it an inning at a time. I just hope we play solid defense, and we come out and swing the bats a little bit."

Memphis (2-4) has victories against Indiana and Southern Illinois.

"It's going to be a good ballgame," Van Horn said. "Anytime someone comes here to play us, they're excited to play in this stadium and excited to play an SEC school.

"Nine times out of 10, we're probably going to get their best shot, and they're going to do whatever they've got to do to win.

"We've got to play well. We lost our last game. We don't need a two-game losing streak. We need to win."

Denz started against Arkansas last season when the Razorbacks beat the Tigers 8-7. He allowed 5 runs -- 3 earned -- in 3⅔ innings.

"He's a crafty lefty," Van Horn said. "He's going to throw 87, 88 miles an hour."

Denz's only appearance this season was Feb. 16 when he pitched three innings against Indiana to earn a save in the Tigers' 6-3 victory.

"He's going to have a fresh arm," Van Horn said. "They'll probably let him go as long as he can. It's going to be up to us to do a good job against him."

Sports on 02/27/2019

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