7-5 on the season. Arkansas is 7-1 at home. The Aztecs are 4-1 on the road.
Veteran 2nd baseman Dominic Ficociello is still strugging to overcome a pulled abdominal oblique muscle which has limited his ability to switch hit at the plate. "He hasn't been able to swing left-handed and he's not going to swing left-handed this weekend so I don't know if he'll play at all," head coach Dave Van Horn stated prior to Wednesday's team workout.
"I tried to swing it left-handed yesterday," Ficociello told the Razorback Nation, "but it didn't feel one hundred percent. I can play in the field. I can run the bases. I can bat right-handed. We'll see how it goes left-handed as the weekend progresses."
Van Horn spent the early part of Wednesday's practice working with his infielders. Third baseman Brian Anderson and shortstop Brett McAfee have combined for 10 of the team's 18 errors on the season.
McAfee is a junior college transfer starting for the first time at Arkansas. His error in the 9th inning against Pacific extended the game and allowed the Tigers to come from behind to beat Arkansas in the final game of the Coca Cola Classic in Surprise, Arizona.
"We feel like if a guy gets out there and we put him on the field he's going to make the play," veteran outfielder Matt Vinson said. "I don't know, it might have been nerves, a little anxiety, but he'll be fine."
Van Horn will go with true freshman left-hander Colin Poche on the mound in Thursday's series opener. Poche sports a 1-0 record and has yet to surrender an earned run as a Razorback.
Junor right-hander Ryen Stanek will pitch the Friday game. He says his rookie stablemate is not throwing like a rookie.
"Poche is really good," Stanek raved. "He throws a lot of strikes. He's able to mix pitches and when you're living down in the zone like he does you're able to be pretty effective especially being left-handed."
Stanek, Poche and the rest of the Hogs' pitchers will need to be at the top of their games in the series. San Diego State will put an excellent four-man rotation up against Arkansas.
"Tomorrow's (Thursday) starter is going to go anywhere from ninety-four to ninety-seven miles per hour," Van Horn predicted. "Friday's starter is going ninety-two to ninety-four."
"We've seen one guy from Arizona State that throws ninety-seven miles per hour to one hundred," Ficociello countered. "He kind of got us prepared for this weekend."
"(Hitting) Coach Butler's been working with us," Vinson added. "We know what we are going to do and we're going to take it to the game."
Van Horn called Arkansas' 0-4 trip to Arizona, "an incredible learning experience for the whole team." What did the players and coaches learn as a team?
"We knew what we were in for as far as the talent we were playing," Van Horn explained, "but we just didn't get it done when it needed to get done. I think the team's confident and feels like we can turn it around now."
"We learned that we can't just walk on the field and beat anybody." Ficociello admitted. "We still have to show up and and play the way we know how to play and not let up on any team."
The first pitch for the Hogs and Aztecs is set for Thursday at 6:30 pm at Baum Stadium.