FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said DJ Baxendale isn't moving out of the Friday night spot after his rough outing against Mississippi State last week.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said DJ Baxendale isn’t moving out of the Friday night spot after his rough outing against Mississippi State last week.
But there could be one change to the Razorbacks’ weekend starting rotation.
Van Horn said No. 3 Arkansas (22-3, 5-1 in SEC) is leaving its options open when it travels to No. 15 LSU (18-6, 3-3). Left-hander Randall Fant (1-1, 5.49 ERA) has been the Sunday starter the past five weeks, but has struggled. It included last Sunday’s stint, when he was pulled in the second inning.
So Van Horn said Brandon Moore, Nolan Sanburn and Cade Lynch also will be considered for the starting position against the Tigers. A decision will be made after Saturday’s game.
“We want everybody available if we have a chance to win game one or game two,” Van Horn said. “Sanburn, Moore and either left-hander (Fant and Lynch). Then we’ll make a decision and see where we’re at Saturday after the game and make a decision on who we’ll start Sunday.”
Moore (2-0, 0.76 ERA) and Lynch (0-0, 1.17 ERA) had SEC weekend starting experience last season. Moore, in fact, was in the starting rotation against LSU last season. Lynch earned starts against Vanderbilt, Florida and Georgia.
Both have been effective out of the bullpen in 2012, helping Arkansas to its strong start.
Sanburn (2-1, 2.63 ERA) doesn’t have starting experience at Arkansas, but was mentioned by Van Horn as a potential starter earlier this spring. He opened the season as Arkansas’ closer, but sophomore Barrett Astin has been dominant in that role the past several weeks.
“A lot of times I like an older guy pitching on Sunday,” Van Horn said. “You might see a freshman with a great arm throwing on Sunday, but that day to me is a real important game. “If you’ve got a good team, you’re probably going to win one of the first two games and then that becomes your tie-breaker.”
Van Horn wants to add an opponent to the schedule next week to make up for last Tuesday’s rainout against Nevada. He said no one has responded to his offer, yet, however.
“It’s kind of that time of the year where teams don’t really want to add a game,” Van Horn said. “They might want to add a game in late April and I’d take them any time.”
Arkansas does not have any nonconference games scheduled the next two weeks. Its next nonconference game is a trip to Oklahoma on April 10. Van Horn said there’s one benefit to the empty midweek schedule: more practice time.
“It’s kind of nice to have a week here and there where you don’t play,” Van Horn said. “We don’t practice much this time of the year.”
Van Horn has a difficult lineup decision to make for LSU. Does he start senior Bo Bigham at second base? Or newcomer Jacob Mahan?
“That’s a battle,” Van Horn said. “That’s a tough call right now. … That’s a good question right now. Who plays of those two?”
Bigham started the first two games of the Mississippi State series and played late in the finale, going 4-for-10. Mahan was in the lineup as the designated hitter Saturday, then started at second base Sunday. He went 2-for-9.
Van Horn said there’s a chance Bigham could play in the outfield if he wants both in the lineup. That will be determined later.
“It’s kind of a tough call,” Van Horn said. “It will be interesting to see how it goes.”