Baseball: Farris ‘Fine’ After Costly Error; Hogs Enjoy SEC Success

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas second baseman Jordan Farris made a costly mistake when he booted a ground ball that would’ve resulted in the final out last Saturday.

But Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said the error at Kentucky doesn’t change his opinion of the freshman as the Razorbacks prepare for their final home series.

“He’ll be back in the lineup on Friday,” Van Horn said after Monday’s monthly Swatter’s Club meeting. “When I see him in the locker room later (Monday), I’m going to say, ‘Hi. How’s your day going? You over it? Let’s move on.’”

Farris’ error led to Kentucky’s 4-3 win, which helped the Wildcats narrowly avoid being swept at home by the Hogs (32-16, 15-8 in Southeastern Conference). But the error, which was Farris’ fifth in 25 games this season, wasn’t indicative of his play since moving into the lineup as a regular last month.

The Ventura, Calif., native has teamed with shortstop Brett McAfee to help shore up defensive woes that plagued the Razorbacks earlier in the year. Farris also helped Arkansas at the plate, hitting two home runs in SEC games the past few weeks.

Farris did struggle at the plate at Kentucky, going 0-for-12 in three starts. But he remains tied for second on the team with three home runs to go along with 14 RBIs.

So Van Horn said he’s still counting on Farris as Arkansas’ starting second baseman as he “hustles and brings energy” to the lineup against Tennessee.

“He’s a tough kid,” Van Horn said. “He felt horrible. You could tell. We didn’t talk to him after the game. We didn’t have to say anything. Like I said, if you hit him that same ground ball 100 times, he’s going to field it 99. He’s going to make a bad read one time. He’s usually very aggressive. But he’ll be fine.”

Cautious With Closer

Van Horn said closer Colby Suggs wasn’t available in the Kentucky series finale last Saturday. Suggs’ arm was sore after throwing in the series opener on Friday night and again on Saturday afternoon. He notched saves in both wins.

“I wrote his name up there. Then I went down and talked to him and he says, ‘Coach, I don’t think I can go.’ I said, ‘OK,’” Van Horn said. “I know that if he could have gone in that game, he would have come down to me and said, ‘Hey, I changed my mind. I’m good to go.’ When he didn’t, I knew he wasn’t ready.”

So Arkansas used Trent Daniel and Landon Simpson in the ninth inning. The two combined to allow three runs — none were earned — in the 4-3 loss.

Van Horn said Suggs “did the right thing” in being “honest and up front” with his sore arm even if it left Arkansas without its closer in the series finale. Suggs has 10 saves, which is two shy of the single-season record held by Phillip Stidham (1989) and Tim Deitz (1985). Suggs has saves in each of Arkansas’ past six wins.

“Hey, if we throw him out there, we might win the game,” Van Horn said. “But then we might not have him for two weeks or he might hurt himself. It wasn’t worth it.”

Series Success

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn doesn’t know what it will take for his team to secure one of 16 spots as an NCAA Regional host later this month. But Van Horn believes his team’s success in SEC play should make a strong case Arkansas deserves it.

The Razorbacks have won six of their eight SEC series, beating South Carolina, Mississippi State, Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia and Kentucky. Their losses came to Ole Miss and LSU, but Arkansas dropped game three in both series in extra innings.

There are opportunities for more success as well with this weekend’s home series against Tennessee (18-26, 6-16) and a series at Auburn (27-19, 9-15) remaining.

Going 5-1 would help Arkansas secure 20 SEC wins for just the second time since joining the league in 1992. The 1999 Razorbacks went 22-8 en route to the title.

“We know that we can play with anybody,” Van Horn said of his team’s SEC success this season. “In a three-game series we’re tough to beat. You have to play good to beat us. We’d like a chance to play a three-game series in about five weeks.”

Poll Talk

Arkansas climbed three spots to No. 11 in this week’s Baseball America poll after going 3-1. The Razorbacks are among five ranked SEC teams joining Vanderbilt (No. 2), LSU (No. 3), South Carolina (No. 15), Mississippi State (No. 21) in the poll.

The Razorbacks remained No. 14 in this week’s USA Today Coaches’ poll. Arkansas is one of six SEC teams ranked along with Vanderbilt (No. 2), LSU (No. 3), South Carolina (No. 12), Mississippi State (No. 13) and Ole Miss (No. 20).

San Fran Bound

Van Horn confirmed Monday his team will travel to play in a nonconference tournament in California next season. All three games will be played at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, which is home to the Giants.

Van Horn said Arkansas will play California, San Francisco and Tulane during the three-day tournament. It will be Arkansas’ first trip to California since 2010.