The big deal in hosting is that you are the No. 1 seed. That means you play a No. 4 seed in the first round. It means you can possibly pitch your No. 3 starter in that first game and finish up with two or three staff pitchers that are down in the rotation. That leaves your No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers for the next two games, possibly getting you to the regional title. It’s a gamble to do that. I’m not sure Dave Van Horn has enough confidence in a third pitcher to do that this year, but maybe he does. Pitching is always the concern in a four-team regional. It’s not as much of a concern in a two-team regional when the maximum number of games to be played is three, with the possibility of winning it in two.
Does this team have enough pitching? I’m not sure. There is more pitching on this staff than I thought was potentially there when I learned of the injuries to Isaiah Campbell and Keaton McKinney. I thought in the fall that it might be a very deep pitching staff. Those two injuries produced a thin nature that I wasn’t sure the team could overcome, especially in midweek games. But the offense was so good that it really gave a cushion against lesser staffs. The result is a team right on the verge of hosting. It’s been a fun season to watch.
It has been. But at the same time, a long-time Hog fan can’t help but wonder “what could have been” had the team not suffered those key pitching injuries days before the opener. Finally, the Razorbacks had the type of hitting that - when paired with the pitching staffs we’ve had the last several years - leads to deep runs at Omaha. We’ve had superior pitching staffs before that suffered with inconsistent to non-existing hitting. We were oh so close to having the complete package this time.
Now, we may still make a nice run. Look at 2 years ago? Our pitching was even more depleted at the end of the year than we are right now. In fact, they “expired” on the NCAA journey to Omaha, and then had nothing in the tank once they got there. But one cannot help but wonder what even one more pitching stud might mean to this team, let along the 3 we are missing.
Dominic Taccolini’s return – now possible – could mean a lot for the May run.