FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas lost its weekend series against LSU in an extra innings game Sunday. It was one Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn didn’t get to see to the final out after being ejected for arguing a call in the top of the 10th inning.
But the loss, or the ejection didn’t alter Van Horn’s opinion of his team or its ability to compete with the third-ranked Tigers – or anyone else – as the Razorbacks reached the halfway point of Southeastern Conference play Sunday.
“I think we can compete with LSU any day. Any day,” Van Horn said. “It was a good ballgame. We just didn’t win.”
Van Horn also said his team knows it must quickly move on from the disappointment as it begins another busy week. The 12th-ranked Razorbacks (25-12, 9-6 in SEC) boarded a bus Monday and traveled to Lincoln, Neb., where they’ll play a doubleheader against Nebraska (14-19, 8-4 in Big Ten) beginning at 3:05 p.m. today.
It’s Van Horn’s second trip back to Nebraska since leaving the Cornhuskers for Arkansas after the 2002 season. Arkansas split a two-game series at Nebraska in 2008 and Van Horn – who is 2-2 against his former team – is expecting another challenge tonight.
“They played an extremely, extremely tough out of conference schedule,” Van Horn said. “They went to (Cal State) Fullerton. They’ve (played) New Mexico. They’ve been all over the place. They got behind the eight-ball as far as wins and losses and they’ve made it up in conference play. … So it’s made them better.
“They’re going to be a good team.”
The series was originally scheduled to span two days, but inclement weather expected in Lincoln on Wednesday changed plans. So Arkansas will play its fourth doubleheader this season and second in two weeks. The Razorbacks split a doubleheader against New Mexico at Baum Stadium last Tuesday.
Arkansas will start right-hander Trey Killian (3-2 2.67 ERA) in the first game of the doubleheader. Left-hander Tyler Wright (1-1, 0.00 ERA) will start game two, which will begin no earlier than 6:35 p.m. and is televised by the Big Ten Network.
The Razorbacks take confidence on Nebraska after going 5-1 during its two SEC road series at South Carolina and Alabama this season. The success comes after Arkansas went 0-4 during its trip to Surprise, Ariz., earlier this season.
“Usually on the road we’re mentally prepared and ready to go,” Arkansas outfielder Tyler Spoon said. “I feel good about it. I feel like we’re going to come ready to play because we know they’re going to be good. It’s not going to be easy.”
Like Van Horn, Spoon said Sunday the Razorbacks were frustrated after losing the series finale to LSU in 10 innings. But he said they plan to move on this week, which also includes a three-game home series against Texas A&M (21-16, 6-9 in SEC).
“We know it’s very early in the season,” Spoon said. “We still have two months left. We’ve got Nebraska (tonight). We’re going to get after them.”