FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas third baseman Matt Reynolds and the Razorbacks were struggling throughout April. But the junior said the veteran team realized there was never reason to panic.
“You just have to push through it,” Reynolds said before the team left for its weekend series at Florida. “It happens every year.
“It happened last year. It happened my freshman year. It’s just something that happens every year. You just have to stay strong and keep fighting.”
Arkansas was rewarded for its persistence at Florida, winning two of three games against a team regarded as the preseason favorite to claim the national championship. It included a 3-1 win in 10 innings Sunday afternoon, a game in which Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn was ejected in the fourth inning after arguing with the first base umpire.
The series win helped Arkansas — which moved up three spots to No. 18 in the Baseball America poll — stay above .500 in SEC play (11-10) with nine games remaining. More important: it was a boost to Arkansas’ postseason resume, keeping the Hogs in the hunt for hosting an NCAA Regional in June.
Players and coaches were not available for comment Monday, but Van Horn acknowledged the big picture before his team’s trip to Florida.
“It seems like every team goes through a little bit of a downspell whether it’s offensively, pitching wise,” Van Horn said last Wednesday. “I think we’ve had that. I think we’re coming out of it. It’s a good time because we’re playing some of the top teams in the country.”
No. 18 Arkansas (31-13, 11-10 in SEC) will try to build on the success when it plays Missouri (23-19) in a two-game midweek series at Baum Stadium, which begins at 6:35 p.m. tonight. Nolan Sanburn (2-1, 2.45 ERA) will start on the mound tonight, while Wednesday’s starter will be determined.
It’s the start of an eight-game homestand, which also includes another key SEC series against No. 5 South Carolina (33-11, 14-7) beginning Friday. “We can make a big move if we win a couple of series in a row,” Van Horn said last week.
It won’t be easy. The Gamecocks, who struggled earlier this season, are tied with Kentucky and LSU for the SEC’s overall lead thanks to an 11-game conference win streak. South Carolina has not lost a conference game since April 6.
But the Hogs play nine of their final 12 regular season games in Arkansas. Six of their final nine SEC games will be played in Baum Stadium.
Reynolds and the Razorbacks believe the Florida series win was proof their struggles are behind them. Now they’re hoping the success will continue as they push to finish another season strong.
“We feel like we’re really starting to string things together and we’re really starting to play our type of ball,” Reynolds said last week.