Matt Jones is the editor of the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
First season at Arkansas, but not first postseason for Hollan
Arkansas pitcher Hunter Hollan (39) delivers to the plate, Thursday, May 25, 2023, during the ninth inning of the Razorbacks’ 5-4 win over the LSU Tigers at the 2023 SEC Baseball Tournament at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex in Hoover, Ala.
FAYETTEVILLE — Hunter Hollan will start his first NCAA Tournament game Friday when Arkansas hosts Santa Clara at Baum-Walker Stadium, but the Razorbacks’ junior left-hander is no stranger to college baseball postseason.
Hollan pitched the previous two seasons at San Jacinto (Texas) College. The Gators made the Junior College World Series both years and Hollan started three games at the event in Grand Junction, Colo.
During his JUCO World Series start against McLennan Community College last year, Hollan struck out 10 in five innings.
“He’s big-game tested,” Arkansas pitching coach Matt Hobbs said. “One of the great things about getting him to come here was that we knew we were getting somebody who had already been in the postseason and had already pitched in huge games. We knew we were going to get a guy who has been through it and who has experienced this type of environment. It’s the Division I level and it’s an NCAA regional, but when he was pitching in Grand Junction it was as big as this is.”
Hollan, who was the Razorbacks’ No. 1 starter for the first half of conference play in March and April, will be pitching eight days after his most recent outing against LSU at the SEC Tournament. Hollan allowed 2 runs on 6 hits and struck out 8 during 5 1/3 innings of Arkansas’ 5-4 victory over the Tigers, which was his first outing in relief.
Hobbs said that relief outing was in preparation for a possible start in the regional opener.
“We thought if we throw him in that game, No. 1, that's the best way to beat LSU is to go Hagen [Smith] and Hollan. We wanted to win that game, obviously,” Hobbs said. “No. 2, with the idea of, depending on who the four seed was, if we liked the matchup that he was going to go into Game 1 of the tournament with an extra day.”
Hollan is 8-2 with a 4.06 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 15 appearances. His 77 2/3 innings pitched are second most on the team.
He will be pitching on his home mound for the first time since May 14, when he threw a complete game against South Carolina — an outing that earned him conference and national pitcher of the week honors. He said after that game he was dealing with a nerve injury that was affecting his left leg, but Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said Thursday that issue is beginning to improve.
“He’s a lot better,” Van Horn said. “That’s probably just about gone. It was starting to get better when he pitched really well here against South Carolina and then it bothered him a little bit after that, then he got better. I think it’s continued, as far as what I was told yesterday, it’s feeling really good.”
Santa Clara (35-18) will throw right-hander Cole Kitchen (3-2, 4.25 ERA) against the Razorbacks.
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.