FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas is ranked No. 2 in the nation by three outlets, No. 3 by a couple more and then No. 4 by the other so let’s save the obituary the program is, as usual, in very good shape.

The Razorbacks are 21-5 overall and 7-2 in the SEC. However, the one area the Hogs have struggled at times is the bullpen. It would be easy to throw the loss against Mississippi State at the bullpen once Brady Tygart exited, but some lack of clutch hitting at various times was also a big factor in the 5-3 loss in 12 innings. Tygart followed Evan Taylor and Zebulon Vermillion pitching 3.2 innings, allowing one hit and walking one, struck out seven and threw 59 pitches. Starter Jaxon Wiggins had worked the first five innings. Dave Van Horn praised the pitching effort.

“Great job by our pitching staff,” Van Horn said. “I thought Wiggins didn’t have his best stuff, didn’t have command of his off-speed stuff. He just didn’t have it. Evan Taylor did a nice job for the most part. Tygart was outstanding. Just felt like it was time to get him out. That was enough pitches. I think he ran out of gas there at the end anyway.”

Tygart struck out the first six hitters he faced certainly impressing Van Horn and the Arkansas fans.

“Obviously again his breaking ball was working for him,” Van Horn said. “His curveball was really good. He actually threw a slider. Got a strikeout on a slider. And his velocity was really good. He’s excited, 95, 96, I don’t know 97 maybe. Have to look at that one. He was throwing a lot of strikes and getting them out.  That’s what he does.”

Kole Ramage came in to replace Tygart in the top of the 10th. He got the out, but then in the top of the 11th he allowed two runs, both earned, and took the loss.

“Ramage came in and got a big out for us there,” Van Horn said. “And then the second inning he goes out, he gets one out on one pitch and then he hits a guy with a fastball. That ended up being the winning run. So that was a little hard to swallow.”

But Van Horn has praised Ramage at various times this season and expects to send him back out there maybe as early as tonight against UCA.

“Yeah, we’ll probably try to get him back out there, if not tomorrow,” Van Horn said Monday. “He’s a guy who comes in and gets a big strikeout against a big left fielder throwing some nasty sliders. He goes out the next inning, gets a flyout to center. The ball was hit decent, Webb made a nice catch, on one pitch. And then he throws a fastball and hits a guy in the backside, and you’re kind of thinking, ‘Wow, how do you miss that far?’ So, it was a little confusing for us. But he’s an older guy with experience, he hadn’t thrown much. You’re just hoping he can get you a ground ball double play because he does get some ground  balls. It just didn’t happen for him. We’ll just use him when we feel like it’s the right time.”

Kevin Kopps covered up any weaknesses in Arkansas’ bullpen last season with long relief jobs in an unbelievable season. Kopps is now in the majors so Van Horn is searching for a few more to step up in relief.

“I want a couple more guys to step up and give us confidence and be confident,” Van Horn said. “But also it’s still in  the coaches and the players that they are the guys to go to. Because there’s a few guys that have the opportunity to pitch because they have good stuff. But they need to take it to the game. It’s  not just about your bullpen looks great and then we put you in the game and you’re scattered a little bit because as you’ve seen. All the big innings we’ve had it’s because they give us something. In this league if they walk you or hit you or make an error, that’s where you score. It’s hard  to  string together three hits in an inning against a good pitcher. Nick Griffin is one that jumps out to me, and then (Nick) Moten, too. Moten’s a freshman with a great arm. We’ve got to get him out there, and if it’s not tomorrow it’ll definitely be next Tuesday and Wednesday.”

As noted earlier Van Horn correctly also pointed out the lack of a clutch hit here or there being partially to blame for Sunday’s loss to the Bulldogs. Arkansas missed a great opportunity in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and just one out.

“Just a tough loss,” Van Horn said. “You think about the way the runs were scored. I think there were five solo home runs, a sac fly. We left a lot of guys on. We had an opportunity to win. I thought we put ourselves in position to win three or four times. We just didn’t drive in a run.

“You’ve got to give credit to their pitchers for that. I thought (Jackson) Fristoe did an outstanding job finishing it up for them. It’s just disappointing we couldn’t get that thing done maybe in the ninth.”

While Van Horn is still searching for some bullpen help he feels good about Wiggins, Connor Noland and Hagen Smith as the starting rotation.

“I mean, I think our starting rotation has done a great job,” Van Horn said. “They go out, and they give us pretty much five innings every time out, and usually a little bit more lately. They give us a chance to get into the game and see what it’s all about. They’ve done a tremendous job. There’s only a few teams in the league that have been able to run out three guys pretty consistently like we do and have it work. We don’t feel like anybody is running out of gas, we feel like they’re getting better, and I think they’ve done a great job.”

Arkansas and UCA will meet tonight at 6 p.m. before Arkansas heads to Florida for a three-game series beginning Thursday night.