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Arkansas and Florida Clash for SEC Bragging Rights

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas and Florida Clash for SEC Bragging Rights

Arkansas Razorbacks (26-10, 8-4)

vs.

Florida Gators (20-16, 8-4)

Baum Stadium • Fayetteville, Ark.

Radio: Razorback Baseball Radio Network

Sat./Sun Cox Sports TV • Live Stats: Hogwired.com

Game Outlook

Game 37: #17 Florida at #9 Arkansas

Friday, April 13, 7:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 42 Duke Welker, RHP (4-2, 3.22 ERA)

UF: 21 Bryan Augenstein, RHP (3-4, 5.69 ERA)

Game 38: #17 Florida at #9 Arkansas (CST)

Saturday, April 14, 2:07 p.m. – Baum Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 33 Nick Schmidt, LHP (7-0, 2.05 ERA)

UF: 20 Tony Davis, LHP (2-0, 3.46 ERA)

Game 39: #17 Florida at #9 Arkansas (CST)

Sunday, April 15, 12:07 p.m. – Baum Stadium

Probable Starting Pitchers

UA: 28 Jess Todd, RHP (4-2, 4.54 ERA)

UF: 44 Billy Bullock (2-3, 4.61 ERA)

Arkansas and Florida Clash for SEC Bragging Rights

No. 9 Arkansas looks to rebound from a series loss to Mississippi State last weekend as the SEC East-leading Florida Gators visit Baum Stadium for a three-game set. Action gets underway at 7:05 p.m. Friday night and continues at 2:07 p.m. Saturday and 12:07 p.m. Sunday.

The Saturday and Sunday games will be televised by Cox Sports Television (Channel 119 in NW Arkansas). Mike Nail and Ron Swoboda will call the action on Saturday while Mick Hubert and Nick Belmonte will be in the booth on Sunday.

All three games can be heard on the Arkansas Baseball Radio Network with Chuck Barrett and Rick Schaeffer calling the action. The series opener can also be seen live over the internet inside the RazorZone at Hogwired.com.

The Gators (20-16, 8-4) own an 18-11 lead in the all-time series and a slim 7-5 edge in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks (25-10, 8-4) took two of three from UF in 2005 with wins on Friday night and Saturday at Baum Stadium. Last season, Florida rallied for an 8-7 win on Sunday in Gainesville last season to win the series two games to one.

Duke Welker will toe the rubber for the Hogs on Friday night. The junior right-hander has been outstanding in SEC play this season despite his 1-2 record. He boasts a 2.28 ERA in 27.2 innings with 27 strikeouts and just nine walks with a .168 opponent batting average. He is 4-2 overall with a 3.22 ERA. UF will will counter with right-hander Bryan Augenstein (3-4, 5.69 ERA), who threw a complete-game loss last season in Gainesville against the Hogs. Saturday’s game will be broadcast on Cox Sports TV with Nick Schmidt in pursuit of Arkansas school strikeout record. The junior left-hander from St. Louis has 300 career strikeouts, just one shy of Matt Carnes’ (1995-97) school record of 301. Schmidt is 7-0 on the year with a 2.05 ERA and will matchup with the Gators’ freshman left-hander Tony Davis (2-0, 3.46 ERA).

Jess Todd is slated to start on Sunday for the Razorbacks as long as he isn’t need too many times in relief on Friday and Saturday. He is 4-2 on the season with a 5.54 ERA and 50 strikeouts. Florida will start right-hander Billy Bullock, who is 2-3 on the year with a 4.61 ERA.

Leading Off …

Nick Schmidt makes his bid for the school strikeout record on Saturday. The junior left-hander from St. Louis, Mo., is one strikeout shy of Matt Carnes’ school record of 301. Schmidt fanned 89 as a freshman in 2005, 145 last season, and he has 66 strikeouts this season.

The Razorbacks are hitting .305 with runners in scoring position (RISP) this season. Jeff Nutt and Ben Tschepikow lead the way. Tschepikow boasts an impressive .417 (15 for 36) average while Nutt is close behind with a .405 (15 for 37) RISP.

The Hogs are 0-1 in games played on TV this season, dropping a game to Louisiana Tech in Ruston on Feb. 3.

Arkansas has been hit by an amazing 65 pitches in 36 games this season (1.81 per game). The mark already ranks eighth in school history and is second in the SEC.

Forsythe has also been one of the hottest Razorbacks at the plate. He had hit in eight straight games before going 0 of 3 vs. Missouri State on Wednesday. He has hit in 28 of his last 31 games. He leads the team with a .361 batting average, a .400 average in league play and has career-bests with six home runs and 29 RBI.

Casey Coon’s 45 RBI rank second in the SEC while his 11 doubles lead the Razorbacks and rank tied for ninth in the league.

Danny Hamblin leads the Hogs with nine home runs that ranks fourth in the league. Arkansas’ 44 home runs as a team ranks third in the SEC. UA also ranks second in the league in doubles with 87.

UA ranks third in the league in on-base percentage at .402 and second in total runs scored with 297.

Nick Schmidt claimed his fourth-career SEC Pitcher of the Week after tossing a complete-game victory at Tennessee on Friday, March 30. Jess Todd was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week after earning two wins over then-No. 1 Vanderbilt. He worked three innings and struck out five on Friday night. He then pitched the final six innings in relief on Sunday, allowing just one run on four hits.

Danny Hamblin’s 188 career RBI rank third all time at Arkansas. He is 16 shy of Jeff King (204) and 45 behind record holder Ryan Lundquist (233).

Nick Schmidt and UF’s Bryan Augenstein played together on Team USA last summer.

The Hogs notched their second shutout of the season on Wednesday vs. Missouri State with a 2-0 win. Chris Rhoads, Dallas Keuchel, Brian McLelland and Travis Hill combined to allow just four hits – two bunt hits – and strikeout 11 with one walk.

Arkansas is 2-0 this season in extra inning games and has not gotten a single hit in extra innings. UA benefited from a error, intentional walk and a fielder choice to beat Illinois State. UA then beat Vandy in 10 innings when Sean Jones scored from second on a sacrifice fly deep into the right-center field gap after reaching base on a hit by pitch.

Shaun Seibert injured this right elbow in the fourth inning on Sunday, March 11, and will be out for the season. He will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday, March 22.

• Hamblin is ranked as the No. 13 senior prospect by Baseball America.

• Schmidt is ranked as the No. 13 pro prospect by Baseball America in their top 100 college prospects list. Duke Welker is ranked No. 70 on that list while Jess Todd comes in at No. 73.

• Todd and Welker rank as the No. 3 and No. 5 transfers in college baseball this season by Baseball America.

Scouting the Gators

Florida enters the weekend with a 20-16 record and a No. 17 national ranking by Collegiate Baseball. The Gators have played their best ball of the season during SEC action with an 8-4 record that leads the Eastern Division. UF dropped the opening SEC series of the year against Mississippi State, but rebounded for back-to-back sweeps of Auburn and Georgia. The Gators then lost a series against South Carolina last weekend.

Matt LaPorta powers a potent Florida lineup. The senior is batting a gaudy .432 for the season with 15 home runs and 38 RBI. His numbers are even better in SEC play with seven home runs, 15 RBI and an almost unbelievable .511 average. As a team the Gators are hitting .291 overall with a .297 average in SEC play. Behind LaPorta is Brian Leclerc, who is hitting .315 with a home run and 17 RBI. The only other regular above .300 is Jon Townsend at .301.

On the mound, UF boasts a pitching staff that ranks 10th in the SEC with a 4.76 ERA overall and a 6.69 earned run average in conference games. Their rotation will consist of right-hander Bryan Augenstein (3-4, 5.69 ERA), left-hander Tony Davis (2-0, 3.46 ERA) and RHP Billy Bullock (2-3, 4.61 ERA). David Hurst has been one of their most effective pitchers out of the bullpen with a 2-0 record, three saves and 17 strikeouts in 25.1 innings this season.

Razorback Rotation

Friday – RHP Duke Welker (4-2, 3.22 ERA): Right-handed pitcher Duke Welker will make also make his 11th start of the season after a hard-luck loss to Mississippi State last weekend. He took a no-hitter into the seven, but two doubles and two runs in the inning cost him the game in a 2-1 loss. Opponents are hitting just .184 off the right-hander, which ranks second in the SEC. He has a low-to-mid 90s fastball with a good breaking ball. More information: See Page 14.

Saturday – LHP Nick Schmidt (7-0, 2.05 ERA): Junior southpaw Nick Schmidt is slated to make his 11th start of the season on Saturday afternoon against the Gators. He is coming off of his seventh win of the season last week against Mississippi State after being moved back to Sunday due to a sprained ankle. He needs just two strikeouts to become the school’s all-time leader in strikeouts. He currently has 300. His 2.05 ERA ranks fourth in the SEC, while his seven wins are tied for the most. Schmidt boasts a 1-1 career record against Florida with a 1.99 ERA and 25 strikeouts in three starts. Schmidt leads the SEC in opponent batting average at .181. More information: See Page 13.

Sunday – RHP Jess Todd (4-2, 4.54 ERA): Jess Todd is slated to make hits third start of the season on Sunday. He will, however, be available to close on either Friday night or Saturday if needed. He is 4-2 on the season with a 4.54 ERA in 35.2 innings of work and two saves. Todd’s last start came at Kentucky in mid March. He has struck out 50 and walked just nine. More information: See Page 15. Additional info on Dallas Keuchel is also available on page 16.

Forsythe Finds a Home

In and out of the lineup over the first two weekends of the season, Logan Forsythe’s name is penciled in on an everyday basis these days. Maybe the best defensive third baseman in the SEC, entering the season his bat was a question mark after hitting just .189 as a true freshman.

He has dispelled any questions about his bat over the last month and enters the Florida series as the Razorbacks leading hitter. His glove has let anyone down either, making play after play at third base. He boasts a .938 fielding percentage at third base this season with four errors in 64 chances, all coming on throws.

Forsythe has a .361 batting average, six home runs and a career-best 29 RBI. He leads the team in slugging percentage at .580, is also first on the team in on-base percentage at .431, and stolen bases (9) and has hit safely in 28 of the Hogs last 31 games after having a eight-game hitting streak snapped at on Wednesday vs. Missouri State. He also has two other 10-game hitting streaks this season.

Nick Schmidt at it Again

Junior Nick Schmidt continues to prove why he is one of the best pitchers in college baseball. The left-hander from St. Louis is constantly overlooked, but the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Year is at it again with a 7-0 record and a 2.05 ERA this season.

Schmidt had a streak of 17-consecutive scoreless innings snapped in the first inning at Kentucky. He took a no decision after seven-solid innings against No. 1 Vanderbilt on March 23 and left with a 7-5 lead. Schmidt fanned 11 against the Golden Gophers for his 10th career double-digit strikeout game in early March. He now has 300 Ks heading into Saturday’s game with the Gators and is just one shy of Matt Carnes’ school record of 301.

It will be Schmidt’s fourth career start against UF. He is 1-1 against the Gators with a 1.99 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 22.2 innings of work.

Schmidt/Welker A Dangerous Duo

Juniors Nick Schmidt and Duke Welker have developed into a dangerous duo at the top of the Razorbacks’ weekend rotation. The pair have combined for an 11-2 record and exactly 100 strikeouts this season (66 for Schmidt and 44 for Welker).

Schmidt is 7-0 while Welker has absorbed two tough-luck losses to Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.

Both rank at the top of the SEC’s opponent batting average list with a .181 average for Schmidt and a .184 average for Welker, who has been even tougher in SEC play with a .168 opponent batting average. Schmidt has allowed just 41 hits in 66 innings this season. Welker has given up 34 hits in 50.1 innings and just 17 hits in 27.2 innings in SEC play.

Hamblin Getting Hot

Danny Hamblin had had a tough time getting the hits to fall in early in the season as he got off to a terrible start with a .119 batting average (5 for 42) at the beginning of March. But the senior continued to drive in runs when he could and has things head in the right direction.

He has caught fiver over the last 20 games, hitting .338 with eight doubles, eight home runs and 20 RBI to raise his average to .248. That average goes up to .304 in conference play, including six doubles, three home runs and seven RBI. Hamblin is second on the team with 29 RBI.

Hamblin continues to move up the Arkansas record book as well with each at bat. The senior ranks second in career home runs (44) and third at bats (833), third in career RBI (188), second total bases (446), sixth in walks (112) and fourth in hits (251).

Razorbacks Rocket Up in the RPI

The Razorbacks’ 26-10 overall record and 5-5 mark against ranked opponents have them flying high in Boyd’s World Pseudo-RPI. The Boyd’s World RPI is a simulation of the Ratings Power Index, the official NCAA measure of team quality used by the tournament selection committee. This ranking was as of Thursday, April 12.

Pseudo-Ratings Power Index (RPI)

Rating Record Team

1 0.646 30-5 Vanderbilt

2 0.645 18-12 Long Beach State

3 0.643 26-7 South Carolina

4 0.638 27-10 Rice

5 0.628 22-8 Mississippi State

9 0.623 26-10 Arkansas

Todd Assuming Familiar Role for Hogs

Junior Jess Todd could possibly be reprising the role Jay Sawatski held for the Razorbacks in 2004. Sawatski was 10-3 in 2004 with seven saves, a 3.38 overall ERA and a 2.49 mark in SEC play. He started seven games that season while making 24 appearances out of the bullpen with 86 strikeouts.

Todd is 4-2 on the season with a 4.54 ERA and is the SEC Pitcher of the Week three weeks ago after notching two wins in relief vs. No. 1 Vanderbilt. Todd pitched the final three innings on Friday night to secure the win and then tossed the final six on Sunday to clinch the series. He then threw 2.1 innings on March 31 to clinch a series win at Tennessee.

He is second on the team with 50 strikeouts and just nine walks in 35.2 innings and leads the team in strikeouts per nine innings at 12.72. He also has a 5.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Todd could be used to secure possible wins on either Friday or Saturday but is tentatively scheduled to start on Sunday against the Gators. He has made two appearances in a weekend series on five occasions this year and has two saves.

Hitting When it Counts – RISP

A key to the Razorbacks’ offense in 2007 has been their hitting with runners in scoring position. Overall, Arkansas is hitting .298, but that average jumps to .305 with runners on second or third base. Ben Tschepikow leads the way with a .417 average, while Jeff Nutt is close behind at .405 with RISP. Logan Forsythe is hitting .372 while Casey Coon is hitting .320. Below is a look at the Hogs’ top hitters with runners in scoring position.

Player RISP RBI

Ben Tschepikow .417 (15 for 34) 21

Jeff Nutt .405 (15 for 37) 26

Logan Forsythe .372 (16 for 43) 29

Jake Dugger .323 (10 for 31) 17

Casey Coon .320 (16 for 50) 45

Big Innings Key Razorbacks’ Offense

Arkansas has made a habit out of putting up crooked numbers on the scoreboard this season. The Razorbacks are averaging 8.3 runs per game and a big part of that has been innings where UA score three, four or even five-plus runs. The Hogs have scored three-or-more runs in 38 innings this season, including nine four-run innings and 15 innings of five or more runs. Arkansas has scored seven runs in an inning four times this season and eight runs in the fifth inning on Saturday, Feb. 24, against Illinois State.

Big-Inning Breakdown

Three-Run Innings: 14

Four-Run Innings: 9

Five-Run Innings: 7

Six-Run Innings: 3

Seven-Run Innings: 4

Eight-Run innings: 1

Razorbacks in the National Polls

Arkansas’ series loss to Mississippi State dropped the Hogs in this week’s polls. Baseball America moved the Razorbacks down three spots to No. 9, while the USA Today Coaches’ poll also moved Arkansas down to No. 10. Collegiate Baseball slid the Razorbacks down two spots to No. 5 while the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll tabs the Razorbacks No. 9 and Rivals.com slides them in at No. 7.

Coon’s Bat Shines

Casey Coon came to Arkansas has a heralded hitter and he has quickly shown why. He is hitting .315 on the season with five home runs, 11 doubles and a 45 RBI, which ranks second in the SEC.

Coon is third on the team in slugging percentage at .515 and is second in on-base percentage at .417. He connected for two home runs on Friday, Feb. 9, at Troy and then cracked two more at Centenary on March 21. He leads the team in multiple-RBI games (14) and is second in multiple-hit games (11).

Tschepikow Back at Full Strength

Junior infielder Ben Tschepikow finally appears to be back at full strength in 2007. He was bothered by back problems throughout his freshman season in 2005 where he hit .400. He was then put on the shelf 14 games into his sophomore season and underwent surgery to correct the problem.

The athletic Fayetteville native is back to his old self. He has been spraying balls all over the field early on in the 2007 season. Tschepikow is hitting .307 with six doubles a home run and 21 RBI. He also has a .393 on-base percentage with 10 walks and only nine strikeouts. Tschepikow has an impressive .417 average with runners in scoring position.

A left shoulder has limited Tschepikow over the last week, but he is rested and appears ready to go for the Florida series.

Game-Winning Hits

Coming through with the game-winning base hit is not an easy thing to do. Here we will track the Razorback players that come through in the clutch this season. Tim Smalling leads the way with three game-winning hits, while Casey Coon, Danny Hamblin, Logan Forsythe and Matt Willard all have two game-winning hits each.

Date Opponent Player Result (Inning)

2/4 at Louisiana Tech Brian Walker HR, 3 RBI (8th)

2/9 at Troy Sean Jones HR, RBI (8th)

2/11 at Troy Casey Coon HR, 2 RBI (1st)

2/18 Wisconsin-Milwaukee Casey Coon 2B, 2 RBI (7th)

2/18 Wisconsin-Milwaukee Jacob Julius 2B, 3 RBI (1st)

2/23 Illinois State Jake Dugger 2B, 2 RBI (3rd)

3/9 Kansas Wayne Hrozek 2B, RBI (5th)

3/11 Kansas Tim Smalling 1B, RBI (6th)

3/13 Oral Roberts Tim Smalling 1B, RBI (2nd)

3/16 at Kentucky Logan Forsythe HR, 3 RBI (1st)

3/18 at Kentucky Danny Hamblin HR, 2 RBI (2nd)

3/21 at Centenary Danny Hamblin HR, 2 RBI (7th)

3/25 Vanderbilt Jeff Nutt 2B RBI (1st)

4/1 at Tennessee Matt Willard 2B, 2 RBI (2nd)

4/3 Northern Colorado Logan Forsythe HR, 3 RBI (4th)

4/4 Northern Colorado Matt Willard 3B, 3 RBI (5th)

4/8 Mississippi State Tim Smalling HR, 3 RBI (2nd)

* indicates walk-off

Schmidt and Todd Both on Roger Clemens Award Watch List

Schmidt and junior-college transfer Jess Todd are on the preseason Roger Clemens Award watch list. The Roger Clemens Award goes to the top pitcher in college baseball.

Schmidt and Hamblin on Brooks Wallace Award Watch List

Schmidt and Danny Hamblin are also on the Brooks Wallace Award watch list, which goes to the top player in college baseball.

Host of Publications Tab Schmidt First-Team All-American

Arkansas sophomore left-handed pitcher Nick Schmidt was named a preseason Louisville Slugger First-Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

Schmidt, a native of St. Louis, is 17-5 with a 2.91 ERA and 234 strikeouts. He was named the SEC Pitcher of the Year by league coaches last season. Schmidt is also a preseason first-team All-American by the NCBWA, Rivals.com and the College Baseball Foundation. He is a second-team selection by Baseball America.

Hamblin, Schmidt and Walker Selected as Captains

The Arkansas baseball team selected three captains for the 2007 season last fall. Both senior Danny Hamblin and junior Brain Walker were selected for a second straight season, while junior Nick Schmidt was picked for a first time.

Hogs Post 3.11 GPA During Fall Semester

The Arkansas baseball team proved they were truly student-athletes during the 2006 fall semester with an impressive 3.12-team grade point average.

The 3.11-team GPA follows a 2.9 GPA in the spring of 2006 and a 3.15 GPA during the fall of 2005.

The Razorbacks had 32 players compile a GPA of 3.0 or better with two players, Brandon Barr and Brad Secrist, making a perfect 4.0.

Senior right-hander Brian McLelland earned his degree in chemical engineering in December. Volunteer assistant coach Bubbs Merrill also earned his degree in sociology and former Hog Clay Goodwin finished his masters in adult education.

Fourteen Razorbacks posted GPAs of 3.5 or better during the fall, including Barr (4.0), Casey Coon (3.8), Thomas Hauskey (3.81), Travis Hill (3.81), Scott Limbocker (3.8), Brian McLelland (3.71), Sam Murphy (3.81), Chad Pierce (3.60), Stephen Richards (3.8), Secrist (4.0), Shaun Seibert (3.53), Jess Todd (3.8), Ben Tschepikow (3.8) and Michael Wild (3.5).

Hogs Believed to Lead Country in Actual Attendance – Again

The NCAA and Southeastern Conference recognize paid attendance as their method of ranking attendance, but Arkansas keeps both an actual attendance and paid attendance. After 19 games at Baum Stadium in 2007 the Hogs are leading the way once again. The Razorbacks have sold 141,048 tickets for an average of 7,423 per game. UA is averaging 4,501 fans per game in actual attendance with 85,512 fans passing through the gates this season.

In 2006, Arkansas set school records in both tickets sold and attendance over 29 games at Baum Stadium, including the NCAA Regional. The Razorbacks sold 206,352 tickets for a 7,116 average (the average is second all time). A record 164,608 fans passed through the gates in actual attendance for an average of 5,676.

In 2005, the Hogs also set a then-school record in actual attendance with 146,902 fans showing up at Baum Stadium. That averages out to 5,247 fans per game and is believed to have led the country last season.

In an informal survey by the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate, Arkansas led all SEC schools in actual attendance. The Razorbacks’ average of 5,247 fans in actual attendance would rank fifth nationally on the NCAA’s paid attendance rankings. LSU finished second in The Advocate’s survey of actual attendance with 3,922 fans per game. Below is a breakdown of both paid and actual attendance at Baum Stadium over the past four seasons.

Baum Stadium is undergoing its third expansion since prior to the 2003 season with the addition of 20 luxury suites, over 1,500 chairback seats and an expanded Hog Pen. Baum Stadium will now features 34 luxury suites, 8,237 chairback seats and a capacity of 10,737 with additional standing room only available.

Year Tickets Sold Actual Attendance

2007 141,048 (7,423) 85,512 (4,501)

2006 206,352 (7,116) 164,608 (5,676)

2005 200,378 (7,156) 146,902 (5,247)

2004 (regular season) 134,525 (4,204) 91,779 (2,868)

2004 (w/postseason) 188,753 (4,840) 146,007 (3,743)

2003 100,372 (3,585) 60,510 (2,161)

Download: Arkansas baseball Notes – Florida.pdf



Sports Category : Baseball