Hogs Head to Arizona for 4 Games
The Arkansas baseball team has continued its hot start to the season, sweeping Evansville at Baum Stadium over the weekend.
The Diamond Hogs next travel to Surprise, Ariz., for four games at the Coca-Cola Classic against Arizona State, Gonzaga and Pacific. This will be the Hogs’ first power conference level of competition, with Arizona State ranked No. 24 in the country by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America.
“I think its a great test. The quality of competition is really good,” head coach Dave Van Horn said.
Senior left-handed pitcher Randall Fant will get his first start of the season Sunday against Pacific. Fant has missed the first two weeks of the season with a hamstring injury, but Van Horn expects to get 40-45 pitches and three or so innings out of him before working in some other pitchers.
“He’s about ready to go, we’re going to let him go through the whole starter routine,” Van Horn said.
In other injury news, infielder Dominic Ficociello will also make his first appearance of the season after suffering a strained oblique. The switch-hitting Ficociello has been fine from the right side of the plate and taking ground balls in practice, and will start against left handed pitchers in Arizona if everything goes according to plan.
Ryne Stanek, Barrett Astin and Trey Killian will start the Thursday, Friday and Saturday games at the Coca-Cola classic, respectively.
Stanek has had some minor issues with control in his first two starts of the season, throwing 76 pitches in three innings in his last appearance against Evansville. In his first two starts, Stanek threw 25 pitches in the first inning of each game.
“Hopefully this weekend he’ll get off to a good start,” Van Horn said.
The right-handed Astin is in for a pitchers duel Friday against Gonzaga left-hander Marco Gonzales, who was awarded numerous All-American selections a season ago.
Killian, a freshman right-hander, is off to a fantastic start to the season with a 0.00 ERA in 7.2 innings pitched to start the season. He’ll see his first stiff competition against Arizona State Saturday, but Van Horn made it clear that plenty of pitchers on the roster will be throwing this weekend.
Arkansas has started the season hot at the plate, hitting .312 as a team while averaging nearly eight runs per game. Catcher Jake Wise and outfielders Tyler Spoon and Joe Serrano had big weekends at the plate against Evansville.
Wise hit .545 with a home run and six RBIs against the Aces, while Spoon had seven RBIs, four of those coming off a grand slam in game two of the three games in the series.
Serrano has been getting the most out of his plate appearances, having a knack for getting on base and scoring four runs over the weekend against Evansville.
“He’s been a really tough out. He will either DH or play left field, and we need his bat in the lineup,” Van Horn said about Serrano.
The Coca-Cola classic will close Sunday against Pacific, after which the Hogs return to Fayetteville for a four-game series against San Diego State.