Ra­zor­backs to take on Mis­souri State at Baum

El Dorado News-Times - - Sports - By Nate Allen

FAYET­TEVILLE - Arkansas and Mis­souri State, an­nual nearby base­ball ri­vals in­clud­ing post­sea­son re­gion­als at Baum Sta­dium won by Arkansas in the 2015 su­per re­gional and by Mis­souri State in last year’s re­gional at Baum, re­new their ri­valry tonight at Baum.

Coach Dave Van Horn’s host­ing Ra­zor­backs, 27-10 ranked sec­ond in the na­tional Divi­sion1.com poll, and Coach Keith Gut­tin’s vis­it­ing Bears, 22-10 from Spring­field, Mo. and the Mis­souri Val­ley Con­fer­ence, clash at 6:30 p.m. on the Ra­zor­backs’ ra­dio net­work and over In­ter­net video on SEC Net­work+ or ESPN3.

“There's been some re­ally good games over the years,” Van Horn said be­fore the Ra­zor­backs prac­ticed Mon­day. “And once you get to post­sea­son, we've had some great games. It just seems like ev­ery time we play them it’s a bat­tle.”

A bat­tle with one de­fec­tor. Nate Thomp­son, Gut­tin’s hit­ting coach the past three sea­sons, be­came Van Horn’s hit­ting coach and third base coach last sum­mer re­plac­ing Tony Vitello who left Arkansas to be­come head coach at Ten­nessee.

Will Thomp­son find it strange work­ing against Gut­tin in­stead of for him?

“Yeah, a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, sure,” Thomp­son said. “But other than that, no. I still have a lot of friends over there but it’s just an­other qual­ity base­ball game against a qual­ity op­po­nent. Just two re­ally qual­ity pro­grams get­ting af­ter it and lov­ing to play in front of a pas­sion­ate fan base.”

Van Horn, for­merly Ne­braska’s coach tak­ing the Corn­huskers to their only two Col­lege World Se­ries trips be­fore re­turn­ing to coach his alma mater in Fayet­teville, says it is dif­fi­cult play­ing the team you just coached.

“Es­pe­cially when you know guys on the team it makes it a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult,” Van Horn said. “And ob­vi­ously he knows prob­a­bly just about ev­ery player on the team. I think his emo­tions will be up and down a lit­tle bit. A lot of times you feel a lit­tle guilty when you leave a team and there's guys you re­cruited play­ing for an­other team. I think they un­der­stand. It was a move for him that was re­ally good for his fam­ily. I think he'll just be pro­fes­sional and go out and do his job and shake a lot of hands and hug a few kids af­ter the game.”

Thomp­son can pro­vide some in­put to Arkansas about the Bears he coached and ob­served but as Van Horn noted, the two teams al­ready are quite fa­mil­iar with their op­po­nent.

Both teams will put a lot into tonight’s game but both have con­fer­ence fish to fry. Arkansas, 10-5 for best in the SEC West, vis­its SEC West ri­val Mis­sis­sippi State for three week­end games start­ing Fri­day night in Starkville, Miss. while the Bears 22-10 over­all and 5-1 in the Mis­souri Val­ley Con­fer­ence, host MVC ri­val Illi­nois State Fri­day through Sun­day.

Arkansas will start fresh­man right-han­der Caleb Bolden, 3-0, 2.81 earned run av­er­age, be­come Arkansas’ reg­u­lar mid­week game starter.

Other than 9-save lefty Matt Cronin sav­ing both games of Satur­day’s SEC dou­ble­header sweep of South Carolina at Baum, the Hogs should have a to­tally fresh bullpen avail­able tonight.

Mis­souri State is an­tic­i­pated to start one of two right-han­ders Austin Knight, 1-0, 4.97 who pitched against Arkansas in last year’s Fayet­teville Re­gional, or fresh­man Lo­gan Wi­ley, 4-3, 5.12.

Three Bears fa­mil­iar to Arkansas from last year’s re­gional, catcher Drew Mil­las, short­stop Jeremy Eier­man and cen­ter fielder Hunter Stein­metz, lead them in hit­ting at .316 .311 and .302.

Sec­ond base­man Car­son Shaddy leads the Ra­zor­backs bat­ting .368 with nine home runs.

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