HOUSTON — The Arkansas baseball team opens play in the 2012 Houston Regional, hosted by Rice University, on Friday at 1 p.m. as it faces Sam Houston State at Reckling Park.
“Friday’s game is the most important game in this event,” Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. “If you don’t win on Friday, you have to go the long road to win the regional. Friday’s the day. We have to get us a win. We have DJ (Baxendale) on the mound. For the most part, we’re pretty healthy. It’s about playing solid defense and making them earn everything they get. What it boils down to is us playing our game and playing well. If we do that, things will go smooth for us.”
All games from the Houston Regional will be streamed online on RiceOwls.com. The games will also be available on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network from IMG. Three-time Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year Chuck Barrett (play-by-play) and former Arkansas Sports Information Director Rick Schaeffer (analyst) will call the action. A live blog and live stats will also be available on ArkansasRazorbacks.com. The other first round match up on Friday features the regional’s top seed and host school Rice against No. 4 seed Prairie View A&M. First pitch for that game is set for 6 p.m. The winners of Friday’s game will face off in a winner’s bracket game on Saturday at 6 p.m., while the losers of Friday’s games will meet in an elimination game on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Razorbacks, the No. 2 seed in the Houston Regional, are in the NCAA Tournament for the 11th straight year and the 25th time in program history. Arkansas has a 55-41 all-time record in the postseason, including a 41-35 mark in the regional round. The Razorbacks have advanced to six College World Series and four Super Regionals. Arkansas is coming off an 0-2 trip to the SEC Tournament. The Razorbacks dropped a 9-1 decision to Mississippi State in the tournament opener and then fall 2-0 to Ole Miss in the second game of the tournament. The Razorbacks are hitting .279 as a team and are led at the plate by first team All-SEC and third team All-American Matt Reynolds, who has a .340 batting average with seven homers and 41 RBI. Tim Carver is hitting .313 with two homers and 27 RBI, while SEC All-Defensive Team honoree Dominic Ficociello is batting .309 with six home runs and 37 RBI. Second team All-SEC choice Bo Bigham is hitting .282 with a homer and 17 RBI. On the mound, the Arkansas pitching staff has a team ERA of 2.99. The Razorbacks will start junior right hander DJ Baxendale on Friday in the first game of the regional. Baxendale has a 7-4 record with a 3.02 ERA in 16 starts, while Stanek is 6-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 14 starts. In relief, sophomore right hander Barrett Astin has pitched in a team-high 28 games, 25 in relief, and has a team-leading nine saves with a 3-5 record and a 2.31 ERA. Sophomore right hander Colby Suggs has made 27 appearances and is 6-0 with a 1.32 ERA. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Brandon Moore has seen time in 23 games, 20 in relief, and has a 4-2 record with two saves and a 2.66 ERA. Junior southpaw Cade Lynch is 3-1 with two saves and a 2.11 ERA in 21 outings, all out of the bullpen. Sam Houston State earned an at-large berth out of the Southland Conference. The Bearkats enter the NCAA Tournament with a 38-20 overall record. Sam Houston State won their first Southland Conference regular season title since 1989, finishing league play with a 24-9 record. The Bearkats went 2-2 in the Southland Conference Tournament. As a team, the Bearkats are hitting .295. Sam Houston State is led at the plate by Anthony Azar, who is hitting .382 with three homers and 35 RBI. Kevin Miller is batting .324 with two homers and 33 RBI, while Colt Atwood has a .317 batting average with 16 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Ryan O’Hearn is batting .312 with two homers and 30 RBI. Sam Houston State has a team ERA of 3.42. The Bearkats will start sophomore left hander Caleb Smith on Friday. Smith has pitched in 16 games, including 15 starts, and has an 8-5 record with a 3.00 ERA. In relief, Bearkat closer Michael Burchett has saved a team-high eight games and has a 4-3 record with a 3.52 ERA in 29 appearances. Michael Oros has pitched in 24 games and is 7-1 with a pair of saves and a 2.67 ERA. Brandon Bergen has appeared in 23 games and is 3-2 with three saves and a 3.86 ERA. Friday’s game marks the first-ever meeting between Arkansas and Sam Houston State. The Razorbacks are 48-13 against teams from the Southland Conference.
Download: NCAA Regional Guide.pdf