The Razorbacks have never played at Stanford’s Sunken Diamond, but Arkansas coach Van Horn has coached Nebraska at NCAA Regionals out there.

His recollection indicates the field’s foul space rambles on like the Tara plantation of “Gone With The Wind.”

“ A lot of foul territory,” Van Horn said, “an incredible amount of foul territory.”

Dave Van Horn warns his Razorbacks about Stanford’s Sunken Diamond lest they pop up as victims of foul play.
At Palo Alto, Calif. Friday, Stanford University starts hosting one of four 16-team double-elimination NCAA Baseball Regionals around the country.
The Stanford Regional starts at 3 p.m. (CDT) Friday with third-seeded Arkansas versus second-seeded Pepperdine at 3 p.m. followed by the 7 p.m. (CDT) game with top-seed Stanford versus fourth-seeded University of California-Davis.
The Razorbacks have never played at Stanford’s Sunken Diamond, but Arkansas coach Van Horn has coached Nebraska at NCAA Regionals out there.
His recollection indicates the field’s foul space rambles on like the Tara plantation of “Gone With The Wind.”
“ A lot of foul territory,” Van Horn said, “an incredible amount of foul territory.”
So first basemen and especially, Van Horn said, third basemen and catchers need to keep chasing those foul flies that might reach the hot dog vendor at most parks.
Also, Van Horn warns Razorback catchers Jeff Nutt and Ryan Cisterna had better not be casual pursuing a wild pitch or passed ball.
“The field,” Van Horn said, “can have some easy outs on popups because it’s huge. You can almost get two bases on a wild pitch, there is so much room behind home plate, and there’s so much room down the left side of the third-base dugout. Balls that are normally 20 rows back in our stadium are caught.”
It would seem the stands being so recessed from the field would recess the crowd noise the Razorbacks are accustomed to at Baum Stadium and other SEC venures.
“It’s more of a laid back atmosphere,” Van Horn said. “Not real loud.”
The crowd may be laid back, but West Coast baseball talent generally is up front, nurtured both by a booming population recruiting base and by weather that allows baseball to be played or at least practiced year round.
“West Coast baseball is solid,” Van Horn said. “They always play defense and pitch well.”

MURPHREE’S LAW
With Sean Jones’ hand healthier and Aaron Murphree’s bat healthier, Van Horn has a pleasant dilemma what to about the about the 2 of 3 game employment of outfielder Jones, designated hitter Murphree and left fielder/DH Casey Coon.
Van Horn had planned to start the year with Coon in left, Jones in center and Murphree at DH and sometimes first base.
However, Jones broke his hand when hit by a pitch and sat on the mend while freshman Brett Eibner took over center.
Coon returned in left then missed time with a sprained ankle before returning not completely healthy.
Murphree began the season as the hottest home run hitter in college baseball, cooled off so drastically he rode the SEC bench then kind of reemerged to swing the bat pretty in the final SEC series against South Carolina and Mississippi State.
So against Pepperdine righthander Nate Newman, will Van Horn go with the golden glove but still mending batting hand of Jones in left or go with two bigger bats employing Coon, a clutch hitting regular but still not running 100 percent afield, in left and Murphree as the DH?
“I don’t know yet,” Van Horn said. “We’ll see how it goes. It really depends on whether Jones goes to defense and Coon goes to DH or if you want to get more of a bat in there and use Murphree. Jones has continued to get healthy, and Murph has hit the ball pretty good. Kind of a tough call.”

SPELLING RELIEF
Relief pitchers Mike Bolsinger and Stephen Richards were huge in Arkansas’ sweeping then nationally 17th-ranked South Carolina in Fayetteville but their struggles in Starkville, Miss. correlated to Arkansas losing 2 of 3 at SEC cellar-dweller Mississippi State.
Bolsinger actually pitched well one outing and poorly the next but lefty Richards struggled both times, showing the effects of elbow problems that has forced him throughout the season to rest his arm instead of improve his arm midweek.
“That’s why he hasn’t really improved,” Van Horn said, “because he can’t work on stuff during the week. But we’ll definitely use him if we need to use him.”
When he’s right, Richards’ left arm can still be Arkansas’ best from the pen though anyone would be hard put to match freshman James Mahler’s eight strikeouts in 3 2-3 innings to beat Mississippi State in the SEC finale that insured the Razorbacks going to Regionals despite not qualifying for the SEC Tournament.
“He’s one of the guys,” Van Horn said of Mahler, “who could get in the mix later in the tournament or out of the pen. It’s just whatever we need to do to advance in the tournament.”