Arkansas’ Pitching Rotation For LSU Series Taking Shape, Connor Noland Set to Return

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FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ Dave Van Horn knows most of what his rotation in Baton Rouge will look like this weekend.

He has two familiar names going Friday and Saturday.

“(Patrick) Wicklander will go first then (Peyton) Pallette and we will leave Game 3 open, TBA, right now,” Van Horn said Wednesday morning during a Zoom conference.

Wicklander has appeared in 10 games and is 2-1 on the season with a 2.20 ERA. Pallette has pitched in 11 games and holds a record of 1-2 with a 3.98 ERA. Wicklander has started six games while Pallette is at eight starts on the season.

Van Horn talked about who the options are for the third game at this time.

“I think (Lael) Lockhart would be an option,” Van Horn said. “I think (Zebulon) Vermillion would be an option. I think those are the two that jump out at me because they have experience starting for us this year.”

Lockhart has pitched in nine games, all starts, this season. He has a record of 1-1 with an ERA of 4.38. Vermillion has appeared in nine games with six starts. He is 2-0 with an ERA of 4.11. He opened the season as the Friday night starter, but has battled some injuries as well.

Caleb Bolden has pitched both as a starter and out of the bullpen. He started the opening game against South Carolina and turned in a great performance. Bolden has 11 appearances on the mound with six starts. He’s 2-0 with an ERA of 4.39. In addition, Connor Noland has fought injuries and is set to return this weekend.

“Bolden would be a guy too if we don’t use him on the first two days that could be long relief,” Van Horn said. “If things don’t go well with the starter you’ve got to have someone penciled in to do that and that would be Caleb right now. He would be available to start on Sunday as well.

“If we can get these guys back out there that have been banged up a bit like Noland and he could have some success. And not using Lockhart all last week if he could us some innings whether he starts or comes out of the pen, give us a few quality innings, that would be big. We’re just trying to kind of getting it going a bit. (Jaxon) Wiggins didn’t throw last weekend and he’s ready to go. We feel like every team does if they’re rested up with their pitching we should be able to use some kinds at least one time and maybe a couple of times twice.”

Noland pitched in two games before shutting it down with an injury. He is 1-0 with an ERA of 5.40. He obviously wasn’t himself earlier in the season due to the injury. He was reportedly available last weekend had the series gone into Saturday.

“Noland threw a lot of strikes and did a nice job,” Van Horn said. “First time up on the mound against hitters in awhile. I thought he did pretty good.”

Wiggins has pitched in 12 games, all out of the bullpen, and is 3-0 with ERA of 5.11. Wiggins is second on the team in saves with four. Only Kevin Kopps with five has more. Kopps captured several awards for his performances against the Gamecocks last week. He has appeared in 18 games, all in relief, with a record of 6-0 and an ERA of 0.97.

“Anytime you have a pitcher or two you have in the bullpen that you can put in the middle or at the end of the game knowing you’ve got a really, really good shot of finishing this thing up especially with the lead,” Van Horn said. “With Kevin you just know the dedication going to the mound. You know it’s just not about talent. It’s about work ethic and make up.

“There’s a lot more to Kevin than a lot of people realize. Not only is he a great pitcher, but he’s a great teammate and a really good human being. We know how hard Kevin has worked in our program to have the success he’s having. So as a coach you put that guy out there and it’s, ‘hey, we’ve got a great opportunity to finish this game.’ At the same time if it doesn’t go so good you still know you put the right guy out there. We don’t expect Kevin to be perfect every time or do what he has done nearly every time this year, but we know it’s a really good opportunity for us to finish the game on top.”

Arkansas and LSU will meet Friday night at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network. They will continue the series at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and then 2 p.m. on Sunday.

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