Dave Van Horn got what he really wanted with Saturday night’s 5-1 win over Nebraska that felt like it could have been a lot bigger than the final margin.
“Now we don’t have to win three games in two days,” he said later.
At this time of the year, Van Horn probably doesn’t care what a win looks like as long as it’s a win. Both wins in this Fayetteville regional haven’t exactly looked great but now they get nearly a full day to get ready to face a team that has already lost one game.
Win Sunday night against either Nebraska or NJIT and the Razorbacks will host a Super Regional next weekend. That will be a lively crowd of over 12,000 for whoever comes to town.
Van Horn isn’t thinking about that right now. He’s got a game Sunday night and hopefully he can wrap things up right there. Don’t be too surprised if the top pltcher in college baseball throws a few.
Kevin Kopps has thrown two straight days and his coach isn’t ruling out the possibility he comes trotting in again.
“He’s a different cat,” Van Horn said Saturday night with a chuckle. “You’ve seen it like I have all year.”
That’s part of why starting 2-0 in this regional was important. Having him is critical, but Kopps being available three straight games is almost unfair.
He said after the win over the Huskers with anybody else you could count them out of three straight appearances but he wasn’t ruling anything out.
“Probably wouldn’t want to pitch him tomorrow,” Van Horn said. “It kinda depends on him.”
For a change, the Hogs didn’t fall behind early in the game. Matt Goodheart started it with a solo homer in the first inning.
“It was nice to jump out ahead,” he said later.
Patrick Wicklander didn’t have his best stuff but faced just three batters over the minimum over five innings and Van Horn brought in Kopps in the sixth.
With another stellar defensive effort, the Hogs drew 10 walks from a Nebraska team that had avoided that all year, but managed to leave 13 runners on base to make it feel like the 5-1 win could have been bigger.
Don’t wander off into those high weeds. This regional is just the first step towards Omaha, which is the big goal.
Van Horn wants to wrap up this step as fast as possible so everybody is available for next weekend’s series against the winner of the Ruston Regional.
Which is why he’s not making any decisions on who will start on the mound until after that first game Sunday.
And it’s also why he’s not ruling out another trifecta for Kopps.