FAYETTEVILLE – Coming off a three-game series sweep of Delaware State last weekend, the Arkansas baseball team, ranked as high as No. 20 in the country, returns to action this weekend with a three-game set vs. Utah. Game times are scheduled for 3:05 p.m. on Friday, 1:05 p.m. on Saturday and 12:35 p.m. on Sunday.All three games of this weekend’s series will be available through the RazorVision portal on ArkansasRazorbacks.com and on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network from IMG College. Phil Elson will have the call for Friday’s game, while Kyle Kellams will handle play-by-play duties on Saturday. Three-time Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year Chuck Barrett (play-by-play) and former Arkansas Sports Information Director Rick Schaeffer (analyst) will call Sunday’s series finale.
Single-game tickets for all three games of this weekend’s series are still available. Tickets are $10 for reserved seats and $8 for general admission. Season tickets are also available for the rest of the 2011 home schedule. Season tickets are $175 for adults and $125 for University of Arkansas staff, youth and senior citizens. Single-game or season tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-982-HOGS (4647), by visiting the online ticket center at ArkansasRazorbacks.com and on game day at Baum Stadium, while supplies last.
Promotions for this weekend include a Dell Inspiron Netbook giveaway on Saturday. All fans in attendance will be registered to win the netbook.Arkansas opened the 2011 season with an impressive three-game sweep of Delaware State, out-scoring the Hornets 24-2 over the three games. The Razorback pitching was dominant in the series, posting two shutouts, a team ERA of 0.67 and 37 strikeouts. Arkansas posted multiple shutouts in a weekend series for the first time since 1988 and the 37 strikeouts were the most in a three-game set since the Razorbacks fanned 39 Auburn batters in a series May 18-20, 2006.The Razorbacks also enjoyed a strong opening series at the plate, hitting .327 as a team with 12 extra-base hits. Jarrod McKinney hit a team-best .625 with an RBI and four runs scored. Kyle Robinson led the team with six RBI and finished the weekend with a .583 batting average. Matt Reynolds added four RBI, a team-high three doubles and a .308 batting average.Arkansas will tweak its starting rotation for the second weekend of the season. Freshman RHP Ryne Stanek will take the mound on Friday for his first career start. Stanek appeared in Saturday’s game vs. Delaware State and earned the save, tossing four hitless innings with six strikeouts. The Saturday and Sunday starters remain the same with Geoffrey Davenport starting on Saturday and Brandon Moore on Sunday. Davenport earned the win in his first start of the season, throwing five innings and giving up two runs, while striking out a career-high eight batters. Making his collegiate debut, Moore threw six shutout innings, allowing just two hits, while fanning four batters.
The Arkansas bullpen was stellar against Delaware State, combining for 11 shutout innings with 18 strikeouts. Cade Lynch tossed four shutout innings in the series opener against the Hornets last Friday, while Barrett Astin, Trent Daniel and Randall Fant each tossed a scoreless frame in Sunday’s series wrap-up. DJ Baxendale, who started last Friday’s season opener, will move to the bullpen this weekend. In his start last weekend, Baxendale threw five scoreless innings and struck out a career-best seven to earn his first collegiate win. Baxendale excelled in the relief role in 2010, leading the Razorbacks with seven saves. Utah enters the second weekend of the regular season with a 0-2 record after dropping a pair of games at No. 17 California last weekend. The Utes and Golden Bears battled rainy conditions for much of the weekend, but were able to get in a doubleheader on Sunday. Cal won the first game 7-0 and scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to rally for a 6-5 win in game two.
As a team, the Utes are hitting .176. Preseason All-American catcher C.J. Cron leads Utah with a .375 batting average, a home run and a RBI. Michael Beltran has driven in a team-leading two RBI.
On the mound, Utah has a 7.02 team ERA. Senior lefty Rick Anton will start in the series opener for the Utes. Anton is 0-1 on the season with a 1.59 ERA after allowing a run on three hits in 5.2 innings last weekend at Cal. Sophomore righty Zach Adams will start Saturday’s contest. Adams picked up a no decision in his first start of the season last weekend, giving up two runs on three hits, while striking out nine in 5.0 innings. Sophomore righty Joe Pond will start the series finale on Sunday. Pond made one appearance out of the bullpen against California and suffered a loss, allowing four runs on five hits in 3.2 innings.
Out of the bullpen, Tyler Wagner and Kesley Kondo each made an appearance last weekend for Utah. Wagner allowed a run on three hits in 1.1 innings in his outing, while Kondo gave up a run on a hit in an inning of work.
Arkansas and Utah are meeting for the first time in series history. The Razorbacks have a record of 52-25 against teams from the Mountain West Conference.
Press Conference Quotes
Head Coach Dave Van HornOn Utah…"I think this is going to be a big test for us. This is a big step up in competition. Utah is a Mountain West team, which is a very good league. TCU is the team that jumps out at you in that league, ranked in the top three nationally. Utah is going into the Pac 10 next year. They have one of the premier hitters in the country (C.J. Cron). I think he hit .430 last year with 20 doubles and 15-20 home runs. It’s going to be a good series. We’re facing a lefty tomorrow named (Rick) Anton. I think he started 14 games last year as a junior. He’s a very experienced pitcher. The other thing that concerns me is the way they lost the second game against California on Sunday. They had a three-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth and they gave up four runs. You know from being in that situation in the past that they can’t wait to get back on the field. They’ll be very hungry for a win."
On Ryne Stanek starting on Friday…"I told you guys that we were going to experiment. We have 15-16 non-league games before we open up at Auburn, which is a very tough place to play. We knew we were going to start DJ (Baxendale) some and use him out of the bullpen. We decided to use him out of the pen this weekend. It’s not like he didn’t pitch well, because he had a great outing last Friday. I think he threw five innings and gave up a couple of hits with no runs. We just felt like we needed to get (Ryne) Stanek a start. We’ll go with a couple of freshmen starting this weekend with (Geoffrey) Davenport in the middle of them. We thought about moving Davenport to Friday, but we thought we would be better off if we split the two right handers with a lefty and let him go on Saturday again."
On the performance of the pitching staff last weekend…"I thought our pitching staff did a great job. There’s a lot of competition amongst the pitching staff. They threw strikes. They attacked the hitters. We have three more kids that we need to get on the hill and get them some time. Nolan Sanburn is one of them. He’ll get some innings hopefully in the next five games. (Colby) Suggs is also another freshman that has a very good arm. These two kids threw yesterday in a scrimmage we had and they threw well. (Jeff) Harvill is a left hander that has really good stuff. He’s coming off a little bit of an arm injury. Those are three more that we think we can mix in. I made the comment earlier that we have more pitching than I’ve had since I’ve been here. The issue is that it’s young. Do we have a Nick Schmidt type of guy or a Jess Todd type of guy or a Drew Smyly? No one’s had the opportunity to prove that yet. We do have a lot more options down there. All those kids can come in and throw the ball 90 miles an hour. We have a lot of games coming up. We’ll get a lot of guys in."
#55 Ryne Stanek – Fr. RHPOn starting Friday’s game…"I feel good. I was glad to get out there and throw (last weekend) and do well enough to work my way in there."
On his outing last Saturday…"I don’t know if I was as nervous as excited. Getting out there and working all the energy out should help to keep me calm throughout the game."
On having several freshmen pitchers contributing this season…"We brought in a lot of good arms this year. We have a lot of people that are able to come in and do the job. The coaches have confidence in us to get the job done."
On DJ Baxendale moving to the bullpen…"He’s just out there trying to help us win. That’s why you want in a leader on the pitching staff. You want someone who wants to be out there, but he’ll do anything it takes to help us win. That says a lot about him."