FAYETTEVILLE -- The meaning of the No. 10 Arkansas Razorbacks' non-conference series against Texas today and tomorrow is not lost on Coach Dave Van Horn.
Van Horn patrolled second base for the Hogs when the Longhorns were an arch rival for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in the old Southwest Conference. A large portion of the Razorbacks' die-hard fans remain intimate with that rivalry.
WHEN 7 p.m. today
WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville
RECORDS Texas 9-7; Arkansas 11-4
SERIES RECORD Texas leads 54-28
LAST MEETING Arkansas won 7-3 in Houston on March 4, 2012
COACHES David Pierce (48-31 in second year at Texas, 245-140 in seventh year overall); Dave Van Horn (606-347 in 16th year at Arkansas, 1,191-587 in 30th year overall)
STARTING PITCHERS Texas RHP Beau Ridgeway (1-0, 8.31); Arkansas LHP Kacey Murphy (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
RADIO Razorback Sports Network. Not all games will be carried by all affiliates. Check local listings.
TV SEC Network
Senior Luke Bonfield has reached base in all 15 games. … Freshman Heston Kjerstad has reached base in 14 of 15 games. His career-opening stretch of reaching base in 13 consecutive games was snapped in Friday night’s 10-4 loss to Kent State. … First baseman Jared Gates tweaked a hamstring while stretching to catch a throw in the fourth inning and was replaced in the fifth inning by pinch hitter Jordan McFarland, who hit a solo home run in the seventh and a grand slam in the eighth. … Texas has announced RHP Nico O’Donnell (1-0, 2.13 ERA) as Wednesday’s starter while Arkansas has listed the starter as TBA.
TODAY Texas, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)
WEDNESDAY Texas, 4 p.m. (SEC Network-Plus)
FRIDAY Kentucky, 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY Kentucky, 2 p.m.
SUNDAY Kentucky, 1 p.m.
But Van Horn would like to tone down the hype for the Razorbacks (11-4) for this two-game set against Texas (9-7), starting tonight at 7 with a game that will be broadcast on the SEC Network, which feeds into the start of conference play.
"The importance of the games are they're just two really good mid-week games," Van Horn said, adding he didn't need to add further emphasis to his players.
"It's just like anybody else that comes in here with some championships from the past," he said. "They know that it's a great program. Our guys got excited to play USC."
Sophomore pitcher Evan Lee noted the Razorbacks' roster is dotted with native Texans.
"I know that to play UT they're going to get pumped up," Lee said. "There's going to be a bunch of hype around the games. We've just got to take it as another baseball game and win every inning, win every pitch and I think we'll be all right."
Sophomore first baseman Jordan McFarland, coming off a two-home run, five-RBI game on Sunday, noted, "It's a unique mid-week. We normally don't have teams that prestigious coming in. I think it'll be a really good test for Kentucky before SEC play starts."
Freshman third baseman Casey Martin said the Razorbacks have to approach the series like they were any other games.
"We've got to go out and play like we have been, or the like the team we know we are, like today," Martin said after providing a home run and an RBI double in Sunday's 11-4 victory over Kent State. "So we're just going to go out there and compete."
Van Horn said junior left-hander Kacey Murphy (1-0, 0.00 ERA), who has allowed a .182 batting average, will start tonight. Murphy had a dominating performance in a 1-0 victory over Arizona on Feb. 21. He was not as sharp while throwing four innings against USC on March 4, but he did not allow an earned run on 5 hits and 2 walks in a 4-inning stint in what turned into a 7-6 Arkansas victory.
The Longhorns have announced junior right-hander Beau Ridgeway (1-0, 8.31) as tonight's starter against the Hogs' lefty-laden lineup. Ridgeway has made eight appearances -- all out of the bullpen -- and has allowed 9 hits, 3 walks and 8 earned runs while striking out 3 and allowing a .290 batting average.
Texas is ranked No. 6 in the nine-team Big 12 in batting (.266), No. 7 in pitching (4.56 ERA) and No. 3 in fielding (.975).
The Longhorns are led by junior second baseman Kody Clemens -- son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens -- who is tied for seventh in the Big 12 with a .385 average and has 4 home runs and 15 RBI. Clemens has drawn 17 walks in 16 games.
Masen Hibbeler (.338, 10 RBI), an infielder/outfielder, and designated hitter Zach Zubia (.308, 3 HR, 19 RBI) also spark the offense.
The Longhorns like to run, with shortstop David Hamilton stealing nine bases and Hibbeler six.
Texas has already taken on one SEC West power on the road, losing the first two games of a series at then-No. 23 LSU by scores of 13-4 and 10-5 before taking the finale 11-1 on the second weekend of the season.
The Longhorns have lost three in a row after winning the opener of a four-game series against Stanford 8-6 in Austin, Texas. The Cardinal won 7-1, 9-3 and 11-1 over the weekend.
Arkansas ranks No. 5 in the SEC in batting (.302), No. 3 in pitching (2.17 ERA) and No. 14 in fielding (.969).
The Razorbacks have five regulars -- Martin (.415, 4 HR, 15 RBI), Heston Kjerstad (.380, 2, 16), Eric Cole (.370, 4, 10), Luke Bonfield (.364, 2, 11) and Grant Koch (.308, 2, 8) -- hitting better than .300.
Sports on 03/13/2018
Print Headline: Eyes on Texas: Hogs get ex-rival at Baum