FAYETTEVILLE — No. 1 Arkansas will host Florida for the final regular season series of the season and once again Dave Van Horn has made some changes to his pitching rotation.
Arkansas (39-10, 19-8) has basically been ranked No. 1 since early in the season and has won every series this season which includes non-conference at Louisiana Tech among others as well as several of the toughest places to play in the SEC. Yet, they have had a different rotation on the mound each series with this one no different.
“We will go with (Patrick) Wicklander Game 1,” Van Horn said Wednesday. “Then we’re going to go with (Caleb) Bolden Game 2 and leave Game 3 open.”
Wicklander has been in 13 games this season with nine starts. He’s 4-1 with an ERA of 1.93. He has taken control of the first start in the rotation. Bolden will replace Peyton Pallette who was the most recent Game 2 starter. Bolden has made 14 appearances with seven starts. He is 2-0 with an ERA of 4.67. Van Horn talked about the team’s success despite the various combinations tried as weekend starters.
“We probably could have announced a third-day starter,” Van Horn said. “But we need to see where we’re at. Who do we need to use to win Game 1 if we have a chance to win Game 1? Same with Game 2.
“Pallette has been pitching there, but we might bring him out of the pen tomorrow, bring him out of the pen on Friday or start him on Saturday in Game 3. We could announce (Lael) Lockhart because he started at Tennessee and did a great job. But we wanted to give Bolden a start he deserves it. He pitched really well and gave us a chance to get back in that game and win it the other day. We just felt like he’s older and deserves it. It has been a really good group effort. They just want to win. We don’t have a selfish team they just want to win.”
If Van Horn has to use Pallette out of the bullpen he has no hesitation doing it.
“I think he would do a great job at it,” Van Horn said. “We witnessed it after we took him out of the rotation after a couple or three shaky starts. He went to the pen and did a great job. Promoted him back to starter. He’s had some good outings just hasn’t been quite as consistent as we needed. I think he will do a great job. Sure he wants to start, but I think he gets it. We have confidence in him. He has a really good arm and can get good hitters out and that’s what you have to be able to do in this league. You will see him this weekend.”
As far as Lockhart in recent games he has given the Hogs four good innings and then seems to hit a wall.
“I guess the thing is at least we know,” Van Horn said. “We have other pitchers like (Ryan) Costeiu he’s four hitters or two innings max. We brought him back out seven times this year and it didn’t workout. We didn’t bring him back out the other. We’ve got a couple of other guys that have kind of told us what to do. We’ve learned to live with it and now we just move on to the next guy. If Lockhart gets a start and gives us four strong arms we’ll probably send him back out, but we’ll have anohter guy ready, to see if we can get him through. But if he doesn’t we can’t be two hitters too late.”
Arkansas and Florida will play Game 1 on Thursday night at 6 p.m. and televised on the SEC Network.