Arkansas faces road battle from La. Tech
FAYETTEVILLE — After sweeping series at Baum Stadium against Miami (Ohio) and Bryant, the Arkansas Razorbacks are hitting the road for the first time this baseball season.
The Razorbacks (6-0) open a two-game series against Louisiana Tech (7-0) at 6 tonight at Pat Patterson Park in Ruston, La.
“That’s going to be a great atmosphere in Ruston,” Razorbacks Coach Dave Van Horn said. “That school has a lot of spirit.
“They’re going to show up. It’s going to be packed.”
The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville is the first SEC team to play at Louisiana Tech since 2007, when the Razorbacks took two of three games from the Bulldogs.
“There are a lot of Hog fans down there, too,” Van Horn said. “I think tickets are going to be hard to get.”
Pat Patterson Park has about 2,000 seats, but fans also can watch the game on grassy hills behind the outfield. There could be a crowd of more than 3,500 tonight.
“We’re excited for it, I think more from the perspective of team-building stuff,” said Arkansas sophomore catcher Grant Koch, who is batting .407 with 2 home runs and 9 runs batted in. “Getting on the road, new atmosphere. It’s going to be good for us.”
Louisiana Tech is off to its first-ever 7-0 start with firstyear Coach Lane Burroughs, a former Mississippi State assistant who was the head coach at Northwestern (La.) State the previous four seasons.
Burroughs replaced Greg Goff, who left Louisiana Tech to become Alabama’s coach after the Bulldogs went 42-20 last season and played in the NCAA Starkville (Miss.) Regional.
“You can call Louisiana Tech a mid-major, but they had a great team last year and Coach Burroughs is off to a good start,” Van Horn said. “He’s a good friend of mine.”
Van Horn worked with Burroughs briefly at Northwestern State before become Nebraska’s coach prior to the 1998 season.
“He was a coach for me for one whole semester,” Van Horn said. “Then I left and took the job at Nebraska. We’ve been friends ever since.”
Fifth-year senior righthander Josh Alberius, who hasn’t allowed a run in 51/ innings over three relief appearances, will make his first career start for the Razorbacks tonight against Louisiana Tech senior right-hander Casey Sullivan, who has a 3.60 earned-run average in five innings.
Alberius will face a Louisiana Tech lineup led by senior
second baseman Jordan Washam, batting .435, and junior catcher Brent Dias, batting .423 with 1 home run and 10 RBI.
“Josh is a guy that you can count on in any situation — starter, reliever,” Koch said. “In a big situation, he’s the guy you want on the mound because he’s not scared.
“Me and him, we’ve been on the same page for a while. Catching him, I’m always comfortable. I know he’s comfortable.
“I just try to get all the strikes I can for him, but he’s going to come out and pump strikes no matter what. That’s the big thing.”
After the Louisiana Tech series, Arkansas will go to Frisco, Texas, to play Arizona, Nebraska and Oklahoma State this weekend.
“We have to get a lot better in a lot of places, obviously,” Van Horn said. “Some of the older guys need to get it going offensively.
“If you make a mistake, we’ve jumped on it. I would like to put together more innings where we score a run here and a run there, and then put together that big inning.
“Our bullpen was good the first weekend, it wasn’t great this past weekend [against Bryant]. Sometimes you see that the second weekend. Guys just get into a little lull, but we have to do a much better job out of our bullpen.”