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 a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year twice.
Razorbacks take Wildcats seriously
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn and Kentucky coach Nick Mingione meet with umpires prior to a game Friday, March 16, 2018, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- It will be the SEC's best of the West visiting the least of the East when the University of Arkansas baseball team plays Kentucky this weekend at Proud Park in Lexington, Ky.
The No. 6 Razorbacks (35-11, 15-6 SEC) lead the West while the Wildcats (22-22, 5-16) are tied with South Carolina for last in the East.
No. 6 Arkansas at Kentucky
WHEN 5:30 p.m. Central
WHERE Proud Park, Lexington, Ky.
RECORDS Arkansas 35-11, 15-6 SEC;Kentucky 22-22, 5-16
SERIES Arkansas leads 42-25.
STARTING PITCHERS Arkansas: RHP Isaiah Campbell (7-1, 2.66 ERA); Kentucky: RHP Jimmy Ramsey (2-4, 7.25 ERA)
RADIO Razorback Sports Network
INTERNET SEC Network-Plus
SHORT HOPS Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said he’s hopeful DH Matt Goodheart, who has a team-high .385 batting average, will return to the lineup tonight after missing the previous three games because of a shoulder injury. … Kentucky pitchers have issued 196 walks this season — most in the SEC — while Arkansas batters have drawn 253 to rank second in the conference. … Razorbacks Dominic Fletcher and Casey Martin share the SEC lead with 19 doubles each. … Kentucky has scored in 108 consecutive games. … The Razorbacks are 9-6 on the road, including 5-4 in SEC play. … Kentucky is 13-10 at Proud Park, the Wildcats’ new $42 million stadium that opened this season.
THE WEEK AHEAD
TODAY at Kentucky 5:30 p.m.
SATURDAY at Kentucky 1 p.m.
SUNDAY at Kentucky Noon
THURSDAY vs. LSU 6:30 p.m.
Not that those records matter to Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn.
"It's the SEC," Van Horn said. "Everybody's good."
Three weeks ago, Kentucky took two of three games from Ole Miss, which is the only SEC team to win a series at Arkansas.
"[Kentucky's players] have been recruited from all over the country," Van Horn said. "We know those kids on their roster and have seen them. So we know what they can do. They're at home in their park, so we just have to play well."
Arkansas has won seven consecutive SEC games going into tonight's opener against Kentucky.
"I don't think we'll have a letdown," Van Horn said. "If we get beat, we get beat. Kentucky is a little dangerous."
Wildcats junior left-hander Zack Thompson (4-1, 1.88 ERA) is extremely dangerous.
Thompson, who will start Saturday night's game against Arkansas freshman left-hander Patrick Wicklander (4-1, 4.14 ERA), has 102 strikeouts in 71⅔ innings.
"Just a really good pitcher, potentially a first-round draft choice," Van Horn said. "He can pitch 92 to 96 [miles per hour], has a really good curveball, and he's their guy. He's the guy they feel has to get them a win every weekend."
Junior Isaiah Campbell (7-1, 2.66 ERA) has been the Razorbacks' No. 1 starter all season, but he'll be looking to bounce back from a subpar outing against Tennessee.
Campbell went 4⅔ innings and allowed 6 hits, 7 runs, 3 earned runs and 3 walks with 3 strikeouts in the Razorbacks' 11-9 victory over the Vols last Friday night.
Van Horn said Campbell and Tennessee starter Garrett Crochet were victims of a tight strike zone early in the game by home plate umpire Matthew Wilbanks.
"For the first four or five innings, his zone was really small and then his zone kind of changed," Van Horn said. "If Campbell and [Crochet] would have pitched the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, it might have been a different story for both of them.
"Isaiah's stuff is good, his velocity is good and hopefully, he'll have a really good outing."
Akansas freshman right-hander Connor Noland (2-2, 3.96) hasn't allowed an earned run in 14⅔ innings in his past two starts against Mississippi State and Tennessee, but Van Horn hasn't named him as the starter for Sunday's finale at Kentucky.
"If we get into a slugfest two days in a row and we need to win a game or two, we'll throw Noland out there," Van Horn said. "But if all goes good or it doesn't get crazy with all our pitchers, then he'll go in Game Three."
Junior right-hander Cody Scroggins will be back on the Arkansas roster this weekend after missing the previous two series to rest his arm.
"It's really good to get Scroggins back for probably just one time this weekend," Van Horn said. "If he's a reliever, then maybe he can go two or three innings. We'll see how it goes. Maybe it will just be one inning, but it will be a big inning."
Van Horn said junior right-hander Jacob Kostyshock also is ready to go after missing some games earlier this season because of elbow inflammation. He pitched 1⅔ innings in two appearances against Tennessee.
"Kosty's fine," Van Horn said. "We're trying to build him up again."
Sophomore right-hander Zebulon Vermillion didn't pitch last weekend because of front shoulder soreness.
"Vermillion would be the biggest question mark," Van Horn said of the pitching staff. "It might be 50/50 on him.
"Hopefully, we can keep these guys healthy, but it's just the way the season works. We've had one guy here and one guy there, but we've fought through.
"We've had guys step it up and pitch well, scored runs or whatever it's taken to get through the weekend."
The Razorbacks have a two-game lead in the SEC West over LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss with nine regular-season conference games left.
"We don't talk about where we're at or what we have to do," Van Horn said. "These kids are smart. They know what's up, so we don't have to try to throw anything on them or put extra pressure on them."
Van Horn said the Razorbacks will concentrate on winning the series they're playing.
"Our focus is us," he said. "That's what we talk about all the time. We don't care what anybody else is doing or how they feel about us or if they're mad at us or they have extra motivation against us.
"If we just take care of our business, we throw the ball over the plate, we field, we get some timely hits, we can beat anybody."
Sports on 05/03/2019
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