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Arkansas faces Charlotte in NCAA opener

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas faces Charlotte in NCAA opener

TEMPE, Ariz. – Arkansas, the No. 2 seed in the Tempe regional, opens play in the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon when it faces No. 3 seed Charlotte at 4 p.m. (CT) at Packard Stadium.

Top seed Arizona State will face No. 4 seed New Mexico in the other first round game on Friday at 9 p.m. (CT). The two winners from Friday will meet on Saturday at 9 p.m. (CT), while the two losers will play in an elimination game on Saturday at 4 p.m. (CT).

All games of the Tempe regional will be streamed for free online at FoxSportsArizona.com. Fans can listen to all of Arkansas games on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network from IMG College. Three-time Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year Chuck Barrett will call the action. A live blog and live stats will also be available on ArkansasRazorbacks.com.

Arkansas (38-20) is in the NCAA Tournament for the 10th straight year and the 24th time in program history. The Razorbacks have a 53-49 all-time record in the postseason, including a 39-33 mark in the regional round. Arkansas has advanced to six College World Series and four Super Regionals, including each of the last two seasons.

Arkansas, ranked as high as 16th nationally, is led offensively by freshman Dominic Ficociello, who is hitting .351 with four homers and a team-leading 49 RBI. Junior James McCann is second on the team with a .309 batting average to go along with six homers and 33 RBI. Senior Kyle Robinson leads the team with nine homers and is second on the squad with 45 RBI, while hitting .293.Sophomore southpaw Randall Fant will get the ball in the regional opener against Charlotte. Fant is 3-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 19 appearances, including 10 starts. Sophomore righty DJ Baxendale is expected to start game two of the weekend. A Golden Spikes Award semifinalist, Baxendale is 9-2 with a 1.75 ERA in 18 appearances, with 11 starts.In relief, freshman Barrett Astin has pitched in a team-leading 25 games, compiling a 5-1 record with three saves and a 2.45 ERA. Redshirt sophomore Trent Daniel has appeared in 24 games and has a 2-0 record with three saves and a 1.80 ERA. Freshman Nolan Sanburn has saved a team-high eight games and is 2-4 with a 3.73 ERA.

The winners of the 2011 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, Charlotte enters the NCAA Tournament with a 42-14 overall record. The 49ers already have wins this season against No. 3 national seed North Carolina and Wake Forest. Charlotte is hitting .302 as a team, while the pitching staff has a 2.43 ERA, which ranks third in the NCAA. Like the Razorbacks, the 49ers like to run, stealing 106 bases in 134 attempts.

Ross Steedley leads Charlotte at the plate, hitting a team-best .349 with two homers and 31 RBI. Justin Wilson is batting .338 with two homers, 37 RBI and 24 stolen bases. Corey Shaylor has hit a team-high five homers and driven in 41 runs, while hitting .310. Cory Tilton leads the 49ers in stolen bases with 31 and is hitting .299 with two homers and a team-high 45 RBI.

Redshirt junior righty Andrew Smith is scheduled to start the opener against Arkansas. Smith has started 15 games this season and has one complete game, posting a 9-4 record with a 1.85 ERA. In 102 innings pitched, Smith has allowed just 26 runs, 21 earned, on 78 hits with 88 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting just .213 against Smith.

Out of the bullpen,John Hamilton has appeared in a team-leading 26 games, compiling a 2-2 record with a 2.86 ERA. Wes Hatley has pitched in 18 games and has two saves with a 1-0 record and a 1.95 ERA. Chad Rothlin (4-2, 2 saves, 2.45 ERA) and Bryan Hamilton (1-0, 4 saves, 3.63) also have multiple saves on the season.

Friday’s game will be the first-ever meeting between Arkansas and Charlotte.

Download: NCAATempeRegional_060311.pdf



Sports Category : Baseball